For Olympic gold medallist and Sport Australia Hall of Fame inductee Peter Antonie, there is always one thing Ballarat can be relied upon for.
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"Well in Ballarat you get four seasons in one row," Antonie jokes.
But Ballarat's infamous weather aside, Antonie is one of many rowers who will return this week to Ballarat with a great affection for Lake Wendouree.
"We had some great experiences in Ballarat; we rowed in so many important races, many state and national championships,'' he says.
Antonie is one of the most outstanding and diverse rowers the country has produced.
He was world champion in single sculls in 1986 and won gold in the double coxless sculls in Barcelona in 1992, along with numerous other championships.
Now at 56, Antonie speaks enthusiastically about his return to Ballarat for the World Masters Rowing Regatta.
One constant among the diverse ages and 27 nationalities that will hit Lake Wendouree is a love of the sport that Antonie describes as having outstanding longevity for participants. "Of all the team sports it's the one that you can just keep doing," he says.
"We have masters crews at Melbourne University Rowing Club well into their 70s that have been rowing together for 50 years."
Quite apart from the extraordinary camaraderie this creates among crews, Antonie speaks about the health benefits of a sport whose low body stress allows a lifetime of competition.
"I think there are all sorts, some who rowed earlier and some who picked it up later in life but the thing is rowing is just so do-able," he says.
"Running is a pain and bike riding you can fall off and be seriously injured but rowing is very user-friendly.
"You can row easily or you can row as hard as you like."
According to Antonie, the experience of being out on the lake propelling his way with rhythmic strength across the yielding glassy surface is a joy that has rowers returning year after year.
"It's a pretty good environment out there on the water and you can simply enjoy that or you can row really hard," he says.
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