CHAMPIONS: The Bundaberg eight oared crew- winners of the interdistrict test eight oared race on the Burnett River in 1927
CHAMPIONS: The Bundaberg eight oared crew- winners of the interdistrict test eight oared race on the Burnett River in 1927 Picasa

Zunkers our rowing legends

IT WAS on a bike ride home when two Kalkie State School boys stumbled across a book about rowing that ultimately stirred the Zunker family's passion for the water sport.

That was in the 1920s, when Arthur Zunker, from Bundaberg's cane farming family, founded family rowing for generations to come.

In the years that followed, the Zunker fathers, brothers, cousins and fellow members of the Bundaberg Rowing Club participated in 19 eight-oared championship titles.

Renowned for their rowing abilities, the family's history is still talked about today and remembered for their strength of character and determination to achieve.

According to Lynda Zunker it was also a time of great camaraderie and mateship, with her husband Allan spending his weekends and days off out on the river.

"It was our life. We were married in 1968 and I think Allan was in the rowing from two years prior to that,” she said.

ZUNKER CREW: Barry, Herb, Arthur, Col, Laurie, Gordon, Allan, Bevan and Brian.
ZUNKER CREW: Barry, Herb, Arthur, Col, Laurie, Gordon, Allan, Bevan and Brian. Picasa

"I ran the committee at the rowing club and used to run the kitchen. It was something to do on the weekends.”

Mrs Zunker said between juggling farming work, the Zunker men would train and prepare for state titles and championships, with some even making it to the big time.

"A couple of them were picked to represent Australia at the Olympics,” she said.

"The weekends away for rowing were always a big thing for them, especially beating the Brisbane crews,” she said.

"We travelled around a lot, we went to South Australia, Melbourne, Tasmania.”

Mrs Zunker said one of the highlights of Bundaberg Rowing Club's earlier days was when the King's Cup tournament was held in the region.

President Nev Cullen had been pressing the Australian Rowing Council to consider the Burnett River for the event and finally the decision was made in the clubs favour for the 1969 momentous presentation of rowing.

"When Nev Cullen got the King's Cup here, it was a really big thing for Bundaberg,” Mrs Zunker said.

"It was the elite Australian rowing event that featured state teams. Our guys had won it three years in a row at that time.”

The greatness of the rowing event saw the King's Cup eights crew, stroke Bevan Zunker, David Slaughter and cox Dean Wilkinson along with many Bundaberg crews opening up the Burnett River to the great sport of rowing.



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