Well she was back where it all began. Begonia was back on the water where she came out and did herself proud. She arrived on Friday, ferried up by Tim Gay. Thanks Tim. Rob and Pat Ripley, who camped out at the Welcome Stranger Park in Ballarat, arrived with Green Pea and Maple, the canoe.

Saturday saw a beautiful sun rise across Lake Wendouree, empty for the past 10 years, and now full and, in fact, overflowing. Quinton Wilkinson from Ballarat, a relatively new member, brought his 5 meter Put-Put (The Wastell) with a Blaxland Twin down and the art of rigging Begonia began. Neither of us having rigged her before, we welcomed Brian Canny, the commodore of the Ballarat Yacht Club, who lent his considerable yachting skills in assisting us. Thanks Brian.

Brian can remember when Begonia had her outing in Ballarat many moons ago and he noted that she looked at-home on the Ballarat water. Quinton’s boat was then set up to launch and, aided by a nifty extension bar, slid into the water - only the third time on water (yes, the bung was in). Following were little Green Pea and Maple. All this time Pat was standing by, with the camera and encouraging us. Thanks Pat for the great support.

Now the lake might be overflowing, but the weeds have started to grow, and they have been left to become profuse in order to get the ecology right. So, some fun was ahead. A slight northerly was blowing so we decided to tow Begonia from the southern part of the lake up to the Lake gardens where all the entertainment, food, activities and Begonias (flowers) were on hand. The put-put started well but, about half way up the lake, the weed began to wrap itself around the prop. Slowly we inched forward and made it, but with a problem with the water pump, or so we thought. Anyway, we moored and were greeted by event organiser Heidi Zukauskas - a really pleasant and helpful young lady.

Everything was swinging at the gardens; so many activities for all the family from the young to the seniors. Many people stopped to talk about the boats and read the articles on them (thanks Heidi). Rob was asked innumerable times for plans for Green Pea. In the meantime, Quinton was shuttled home to get some more tools and the workshop manual, all of 10 pages, for the Blaxland. So down again to the engine and yes, there is a filter on the water intake and yes, it was totally blocked with duckweed. So simple - anyway, no damage and fixed. Weed? Now that was another matter. Quinton finished up with a weed covered prop, a real tangled mess, but managed to slowly tow Begonia back to the club house. The boats were all stored overnight in the pens at the Ballarat Yacht Club. A great first day!

Day two started with another beautiful morning across Lake Wendouree and Tony and Linda Remington arrived to take Begonia for a sail to the Lake Gardens. Quinton’s wife was ill, so he could not come, but Rob took Green Pea towing Maple. He was now an expert on sailing on Lake Wendouree. However, if ever there was skill to be had , as well as Rob’s, it was learning about the exploits of Tony and Linda as they took Begonia up Lake Wendouree due West in open water and then turned due North to tack all the way across, in narrow channels, to take Begonia to the Gardens. Congratulations, you two on a feat of navigation and sailing - and no arguments? Now that is a great team. Pat again supported us all and took Linda for a quick review of the festival happenings - me-thinks Linda would like to come back. Another great day was had with many activities and great people. Quinton came down to see what was going in time to see Begonia with her new super crew sailing out through the reeds and back to the clubhouse along with now expert Rob in Green Pea (Maple in tow) and Pat by car.

Day three - again a beautiful day for the festival parade. This was the last day and it was decided to leave Begonia at her moorings at the club house. There was a stiff Westerly wind with no promise that it would turn for the return trip to the Yacht Club, so Rob sailed Green Pea and Maple up to the lake and back. Quinton met Rob and Pat down at the clubhouse in the afternoon and Begonia was loaded back onto her trailer with some assistance from Charles Weatherly, another Ballarat Yacht Club member, who was just back from the State Jubilee Titles at Sorrento. Begonia was now tucked up and awaiting pick up for her trip home and Pat and Rob packed up Green Pea and Maple and headed home to Pakenham.

Our thanks to Rob and Pat for their organisation, support and encouragement - I hope they had fun, and to Tony and Linda for their demonstration of skill. It is a wonderful venue and lots to do at this time of the year. It would be a wonderful place for a weekend or even another Begonia Festival outing next year. We could show more boats off to the public as well as enjoy the activities of the festival; it’s for all ages. Maybe even have a sailing race organised by the yacht club. You also have to visit Sails Restaurant as its part the Ballarat Yacht clubhouse.


Additional photos, by Roderick Smith

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