The school began with pairs and fours on Wednesday afternoons in Terms 1 and 4 with volunteer coaching provide by Bob Morell form the Corio Bay Rowing Club. In 1976, five Morongo girls made their rowing debut and in 1977, Morongo was represented by two crews in the first Junior Head of the Rivier. The years following became a period of consolidation, perseverance and commitment.

Morongo rowed in many regattas around Victoria and interstate. In 1977, at the Ladies Four Youth Championship in Adelaide, Morongo girls made the final and finished third. The girls competed in 1st and 2nd Fours over a distance of 800 metres.

By 1981 Morongo had three crews and made history with a crew in the Senior Head of the River – the first time girls had ever rowed in the 131 year old event and the Australian Private Schools Association (APS) invited three girls’ schools, Morongo, Methodist Ladies College and Clarendon College to compete in their regattas. Virginia Vickery (nee Kratochvil) was the teacher in charge of girls’ rowing at the time, assisted by Paul Marks as second coach.

The first Year 12 crew participated in the Junior Head of the River on the Yarra in 1982 and in 1983, the Program for the Head of the River stated: “Three races for girls’ crews will be held. The Geelong College and Geelong Grammar girls have rowed for a few years and Carey began last year. Crews from Lauriston, Morongo and Methodist Ladies’ College have accepted the invitation to participate in these races.” Morongo entered three girls’ fours who rowed a distance of 800 metres.

In 1984, Headmistress Dulcie Brookshaw (Morongo) and Mary Waters (Clarendon), approached Rowing Victoria, the meeting resulted in the Head of the Schoolgirls Regatta (HOSG). The inaugural regatta was held in 1985 on Lake Wendouree, Ballarat. Morongo participated. They also gained valuation experience at the National Rowing Championships held at Lake Wendouree, Ballarat in the same year. At this stage the number of crews had grown to six and the school became the proud owners of four carbon fibre oars and a rowing shell aptly called the ‘Dulcie Brookshaw’.

The Morongo Boat Club became affiliated in 1986 with the Victorian Rowing Association and in 1988 they purchased a new shell, the ‘Edna McCann’. Anne Young (nee Chirnside), an old collegian was appointed coordinator or Rowing. Anne had been a member of the Australian Rowing Squad which competed in Amsterdam in 1977. Morongo crews continued to be competitive and upheld their high standard of spirit. In 1989 Morongo first fours won the HOSG regatta.

In the 1990’s Bob Morell coached the Morongo eight crews, they competed at many regattas including Mildura-Wentworth, Horsham-Dimboola and Hamilton, proudly winning trophies, medals and a perpetual trophy. An ‘eight’ for the HOSG regatta was purchased, with the first and second crews combining.

Morongo hosted the HOSG regatta in 1992 and purchased four shells. Students Nikola McGrath and Claire Wookey secured rowing scholarships at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS).

The Morongo Medal

Rowing Victoria continue to present “Morongo Medals” to Year 12 students who have completed 3 years of rowing. The medal has the Morongo crest on one side and “HOSG Morongo Medal for Commitment and Endeavour” on the other. The Morongo Medal commemorates Morongo Girls’ College and Principal Miss Dulcie Brookshaw’s contribution to HOSG Regatta. Each medal includes a lanyard in the school colours and a card with details of the former Morongo Girl’s College.

The Morongo Regatta

Held on the Barwon River in early February each year, the Morongo Regatta is hosted by Rowing Geelong for Years 9 and 10 girls crews racing over 1000 metres.

Souce: Jeanette Joseph (Dehnert) and others. Final edition Morongo Old Collegians Association Newsletter 2015.

Morongo Rowing Memories
Morongo 1984 Rowing M Shrimpton (cox) S McAllister S Storey F Bucknall S Manton
Morongo 1994 Rowing IV (2)
Morongo 1994 Rowing IV (1)
Morongo 1992 Rowing VIII