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The city of Ballarat is extraordinarily unique in that it has a beautiful Lake almost right at its centre. Lake Wendouree is a daily destination for the city’s active community: every morning residents run and cycle around the lake as the local wildlife stirs; anglers drop their lines in search of the local Trout and English perch population, and canoers and kayakers launch their boats onto the calm water’s surface to paddle out to the birds amidst the sounds of the city coming to life.
History of the Ballarat Canoe Club
On the Eastern side of the lake, the Ballarat Canoe Club has made its home. The building has remained there in its current state since 1988. The club itself was formed in 1983 with the goal of creating a place where passionate canoers and kayakers could go to meet others interested in the sport and develop their skills.
We caught up with Ballarat Amateur Canoe Club President, Graeme Bowes to learn more about canoeing and kayaking on the Lake and throughout the Ballarat region.
Graeme said the club organises group training sessions for its more competitive members. Lake Wendouree has been the training ground for some great canoeists over the years including Olympic paddlers, Rodney Fox and Bryan Thomas, all calling Lake Wendouree home. That being said, the club caters to paddlers of all abilities, from the novice, right up to the veteran. New members are encouraged to attend an induction course run by one of the four coaches. They’ll make sure that you are set to hit the water with all the skills and knowledge needed to operate your craft safely on the lake and in the surrounding region.
Canoeing and Kayaking on Lake Wendouree
There are a number of factors to take into consideration before heading out for a day’s paddling on the Lake. The wind is the first and last challenge to kayakers of all levels of ability in Ballarat. It’s important to remember that you are not the only Lake user out there. Sailboats and anglers enjoy the lake too, so an induction course with the Ballarat Canoe Club should also explain the right of way rules for boating on inland waters.
Image Credit: Tony Evans Photography
For those who enjoy watching the pros, Lake Wendouree has played host to some big events on the Australian Canoeing, Kayaking and Rowing calendars. Most recently in 2014, the Australian Canoe Marathon Championships were held at Lake Wendouree. An awesome excuse to pack a picnic, head down to the lakeside and support the local talent with friends and family.
While canoeing and kayaking might often seem like a solitary endeavour, all paddlers share one thing in common. For Graeme, it’s the love of getting out on the water, leaving his mobile phone at home and just being in the environment — all of his senses attuned to the sights and smells and sounds that we so often ignore, distracted by the importance of our own lives.