Friday, 19 January 2018 08:17

Row, row, row your boat

The Bairnsdale Riverside Holiday Park is a hive at activity at present with the arrival of the senior rowing team from Methodist Ladies College (MLC) in Melbourne. About 50 girls are onsite this week along with a team of 15 coaches and a band of parents who cook for the entire crew. The girls, in years 11 and 12, are getting in some pre-season training in preparation for the regatta season, which begins next weekend. While some of the girls will be chosen for the nationals in Sydney, the majority will compete against other Victorian school teams. Rowing has been a long-standing tradition at MLC and the college has been coming to Bairnsdale for many years for their pre-season warm up. Head coach, Tim Dolphin, says the Mitchell River is a perfect spot for training the rowing team. “You have 12-13 kilometres in one direction to row, so you don’t have to turn around all the time, it’s fantastic,” Mr Dolphin told the Advertiser. “The other advantage is we can get a large amount of boats in the river at the same time, so access is great. “Bairnsdale is very handy for us because we can walk between the accommodation and the water, we don’t have to catch a bus, so it’s time effective,” Mr Dolphin said. “We’ve been coming here for 15 years and MLC has been coming for at least that time. It’s a fantastic place to row.” Linda Roman from the holiday park says that it’s not just MLC who make a regular booking at the park, but other schools, such as St Kevin’s and Melbourne Grammar are also regulars. “We even have Nagle College come here,” Ms Roman said. “The mums and dads come too and book out every cabin in the park.

“MLC has set up a huge marquee where the parents cook, it’s like a community kitchen,” Ms Roman said. Mandy Brander is the president of the Silver Star Rowing Club – the name of the MLC parents’ group that caters for the young rowers. She co-ordinates the camp and liaises with the head coach as to when the girls will be back at camp for their meals. Her daughter, 17-year-old Caitlin, is the second of her children to undertake the rowing program. Mrs Brander loves the outing to Bairnsdale and is full of praise for the “beautiful river”. “Last year my husband came and we went down to Metung,” she said. “Quite a few parents bring their bikes along because of the nearby bike trails.” This time Mrs Brander has chosen to stay at the nearby Riversleigh. Secretary of the Silver Star Rowing Club, Ros Doyle, says the Mitchell “is a lovely river to swim in”. “The caravan park is ideal, it’s an easy distance from Melbourne.” Sarah Gardner and her partner, Jeremy Anghie, live in Glen Iris and took annual leave from their jobs so they could accompany their daughter, Sophie Anghie, who’s in year 12, to the pre-season rowing trials in Bairnsdale. “We came up last year and really enjoyed it,” Ms Gardner told the Advertiser. “It’s quite relaxed and very social,” she said of the team of parents who accompany their children to Bairnsdale. The parents’ main job is cooking – breakfast, lunch and dinner. “We prepare the food, cook it and clean up afterwards,” says Natalie Smith, whose daughter, Mabel Li, is vice captain of the rowing team. Ms Smith expects she’ll get plenty of practice in all three disciplines. Her other daughter, Iris, is in year nine and also rows.