Club History



11th July – Inaugural meeting held at the Rockhampton National Fitness Centre. Club fees set at a very affordable $5 for single and $7 for a family. A desire to affiliate the new club with both the Australian Canoe Federation and the Qld Amateur Canoe Federation was decided at this meeting.

Constitution developed and put into place

The formation of the Club was primarily to consolidate a very keen group of recreational paddlers together. In these early days, canoe touring trips around the Rockhampton and Gladstone area were predominant with trips on the Fitzroy, Boyne, Calliope, Dawson, and Mackenzie Rivers, and a host of local creeks. Regular outings to the Capricorn Coast to test kayak skills in the ocean were also popular.


On the Australia Day long weekend in 1980, a group consisting of 4 kayaks and 4 Canadians paddled the Fitzroy River from Glenroy Crossing to Yaamba. This 3 day touring trip became an annual event for the Club and attracted in excess of 80 paddlers in some years.


The Fitzroy Club colours of green and white were decided on and the first Club T shirts were adopted for a display stand at the local show in 1980.


Kayak manufacture was all the rage in the early 80’s, although the cost of manufacture, and the acquiring of fibreglassing skills were initial hurdles in setting up a fleet of Club boats. The Club manufactured its first kayak mould, and members were charged $150 for a kayak (if they participated in its making).


In true pioneering spirit, and with tremendous publicity for the Club, a trip from Funnel Creek to Rockhampton a total distance of 750km was undertaken by Bart vanderMeer, his brother Hans, Trevor Rufus, and a new member Geoff Olsen in 1981.

Club members began showing an interest in marathon racing with 8 members competing in the 1981 BV100, but reports note that they were “outclassed by the slim water-cutting craft of the Southerners”.

1982 The Mackay Canoe Club suggested in 1982, the setting up of a Fitzroy River Race to make a Central Zone Racing circuit, with a suggestion put forward for a race from Alligator Creek to the Barrage a distance of 41km. This race has been an annual club event since its inception.

The Club purchased its first racing kayak from Ron Snow in 1983, a TK1 finished out in the green and white Club colours.

The first official Fitzroy River Marathon over the 41km course was held on 28 August 1983 with Ron Snow the winner in one of those “slim craft”, a TK2.

1988 Club achieved its incorporation in 1988.
1994 Discussions commence with Rockhampton City Council on securing a suitable site to base the Fitzroy Canoe Club operations
1995 Members have always struck a balance between recreational touring, sea kayaking, and competitive racing. Competitive racing has seen the Club produce State and National champions with Luke Offord competing on two occasions at World Championships as a junior and earning a silver medal in the K2 at the Worlds in 1995.
1997 Negotiations commence with Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, and Rockhampton City Council for lease on land

8th March – Lease documents signed for a 10 year lease on land at 2 Richardson Road

October – Grant received from Rockhampton City Council allowing construction of shed foundations to commence


February – Funding received from Jupiters Casino Community Benefit Fund to establish shed.

June – Shed slab poured

December – Construction of shed completed. All boats moved from under Bart’s house which was used as the site of the club for over 20 years.

2001 July – Fitzroy Canoe Club shed officially opened by the State Member for Rockhampton, Robert Schwarten


When compiling our Club history, there are obviously many memorable moments and many people who have contributed to the Club, but one cannot forget to mention Keith Bromham, and Bart vanderMeer who together have shaped our Club from its early inception to what it is today.


The Club is always seeking new members and welcome paddlers of any ability and canoeing interest.