History of the O55CC
The Over 55 Canoe Club lncorporated owes its origins to the Department of Sport and Recreation (W.A.) 'HAVE A GO' Programme in 1986. This programme introduced canoeing to men and women over the age of 55 years.
lnitially a rack of six aluminium, two-person, Canadian canoes along with paddles and life jackets was hired each Thursday from the Canning and Swan district Councils. As club numbers increased, a second rack of canoes was hired to enable up to 24 canoeists to participate in the day's paddle. This system worked well for some years, as several members were willing and able to collect and return the hired canoes. Every week canoeists booked and paid a non-refundable fee in advance of their paddle.
ln those early years the club was fortunate to be under the firm leadership of John House, a former World War Two Special forces (UK) sergeant.
ln 1991, members began purchasing their own canoes, namely the plastic "Minnow". By 1997 the club had ceased hiring canoes.
ln 2000 Stan Wallin loaned the club sufficient funds to purchase a purpose built six canoe trailer to enable canoes to be transported to the start point of a one-way moving-water paddle, while most vehicles were left at the finish point of the paddle. lan Ferguson was closely involved in the design and fit out of the trailer.
ln the early days of the club it was flat water paddling on the Swan and Canning Rivers, at various venues, such as Middle Swan, Kings Meadow (opposite Point Reserve, Bassendean), Point Walter, Kent St Weir, and Riverton Bridge.
As skills and confidence increased the moving water venues of the Upper Swan and Upper Canning Rivers were added to the list. It was not long before members became more adventurous and began to explore rivers outside the metropolitan area.
The first canoe camp was held at Ravenswood with members accommodated in the caravan park and hiring on-site canoes. The next camp was lcy Creek near Dwellingup in 1999. The popular campers felt the venue lived up to its name. Canoe camps became more popular and further venues, such as Wellington Mills for canoeing on the Collie River in September and Augusta for paddling the Blackwood River in February, were tried. The club eventually settled on Dwellingup as the base for regular three-day camps where members could experience white water kayaking on the Upper Murray River.
More recently the Dwellingup white water experience takes place from early June to late October and may be a one, two or three-day expedition depending upon water levels and demand.
It is interesting to recall that initially members portaged their canoes around rapids on the Upper Murray River. Until one day, Stan Wallin in a "Minnow" canoe, was floating a Canadian canoe, on a length of rope, down the rapid at lsland Pool when he accidentally followed the Canadian down the rapid and emerged unscathed the right side up. This was a club defining moment and led to the start of the white-water aspect of the Over 55 Canoe Club.
The annual five-day Augusta camp at the beginning of February became a very popular paddling and social event that continued for 3O years, ceasing following the 2015 camp.
The club then moved its annual February camp to Walpole for 5 years, where we enjoy a cooler summer camp on a variety of rivers.
In 2021, the club then moved its annual camp back to Augusta in March.
ln 2010 the Moore River was added to the list of rivers paddles by the club.
lt should be noted that, in the interests of safety, participation in club white water kayaking events are only permitted after each individual has demonstrated adequate paddling skills. The club introduced an annual safety day, held at Hillary's Boat Harbour, where various safety procedures as well as shallow and deep-water rescues could be practiced.
In September 2019, the Over 55 Canoe Club was privileged to receive a significant grant from LotteryWest to aquire safety eqipment for our club. The grant enabled us to purchase Sattelite Phones for emergency communication
in remote areas and 2-way radios to faciltate better communication within the paddling groups. This is appreciated by the O55CC Members.
Today, 35 years after its founding, the club has over 60 active members in a range of modern kayaks, with anything between 15 - 40 kayaks on the water every Thursday morning between March and December come rain, hail or shine.
Life Members: (to 2011)
John House (deceased)
Len Harris (deceased)
Jean Warren (deceased)