CITY of Ballarat officials and rowing groups must be breathing a collective sigh of relief after Lake Wendouree was given a big tick of approval after the Victorian Masters championships at the weekend.
After more than a decade of drought, which resulted in the iconic lake completely drying, and several years of initiatives to refill it, Lake Wendouree is now returning as a major Australian rowing centre.
Rowing Australia national development and events director Matt Draper said at the weekend Lake Wendouree’s infrastructure had passed its first major test with the state masters regatta. “It’s a huge improvement. It’s great. The basics are in place,” he said.
This glowing testimonial to the former Olympic rowing venue now means Lake Wendouree is truly ready for the Australian Masters, which begin on Thursday.
Lake Wendouree had more than proved itself when it again hosted the centenary Head of the Lake regatta earlier this year. It was the first time the facility had been used for the popular annual event since it was moved to Nagambie in 2004 and later to the Barwon River in Geelong, due to the drought.
The combination of heavy rain and much work at every level of the community over recent years has brought Lake Wendouree back to its former glory. But these people are not resting on their laurels when it comes to maintaining the facility. There is a plan in place to roll out further developments in the lead-up to the 2014 World Masters Rowing Championships.
While Mr Draper said the lake’s rowing course had come a long way in six months since the worlds had been awarded to Ballarat, he admitted there was still a lot to do in preparation for the prestigious event.
He said while there would always be weed in the lake, there was an ongoing plan to manage it.
Photographs of Lake Wendouree will be sent to the World Masters organisers, and Mr Draper said he was sure they would be impressed by the progress made.
He confirmed Ballarat was well and truly back in the mix as a possible location for national events, such as the Australian titles which rotated around the states.
Through continued work by the city council, dedicated lobbying by regional rowing groups and support from the community, Lake Wendouree should be a shining example of not only a top-quality sporting facility, but also a hub for leisure and social activities for many generations to come.