Backward Glance: history of lawn bowls
  • Wednesday 15 June 2016

This week’s Backward Glance highlights some of the Coast’s bowls clubs while welcoming all the visiting bowlers and guests here for the Sunshine Coast Winter Bowls Carnival.

Today, with the advent of barefoot bowls and numerous social games and competitions, it is interesting to look back at the beginnings of some of the region’s earliest bowls clubs.

Like many clubs and organisations, bowls clubs have played, and continue to play, an important part in community life and in the development of the tourism industry.

From its earliest days, bowls has been a popular sport producing some great champions too.

After World War II lawn bowls was flourishing in the region as a sport.

Members worked hard fundraising and labouring to establish bowls clubs and without them the early clubs would not exist.

In March 1919, a meeting was held to form a bowls club at Buderim and G Burrows, who was elected secretary, made some of his land available for a bowling green.

At the time, the club joining fee was two pounds two shillings ($5) with an annual fee of half the amount.

Initial matches were held in 1921 but by early 1923, the club was wound up and it was not until April 1951 that a new bowls club formed in Buderim.

By 1952 a green was under construction in Elizabeth Street and when the green was opened for play in 1955, club membership comprised 24 men and 28 ladies.

The original clubhouse was purchased at an auction of army buildings and dismantled and re-erected on the green.

Many of the Coast’s present bowls clubs formed in the 1930s and rapidly developed.

Nambour was a prosperous place during the 1930s and on August 3, 1932 a meeting was called to form a bowling club.

After 10 sites were inspected, the present site near the showgrounds was selected and on June 5, 1933 the Nambour Bowls Club was officially opened.

Nambour Bowls Club became the first businessman’s club in town and had a selective membership during those early years.

In February 1932, Palmwoods Bowls Club officially opened followed by the Maleny Bowls Club in 1938.

Maroochydore’s Swan Bowls Club was formed in 1936 and it was still in its infancy when in August 1937, at the invitation of Nambour Bowling Club, two delegated members from Maroochydore, Palmwoods and Mapleton clubs held a meeting to establish a series of inter-club matches.

This meeting resulted in the formation of the Maroochy District Bowling Association.

Maroochydore Beach Bowls Club held a meeting on March 11, 1939 where a decision was made to name their club Maroochydore - Mooloolaba Bowling Club.

Green fees were a shilling (10 cents) for members and sixpence (five cents) for visitors.

The original clubhouse was opened in 1940 and, around this time, a liquor licence was also obtained.

The club changed its name to the Maroochydore Beach Bowls Club in 1959 and on June 21, 1969 Cr E De Vere officially opened the club’s extensively renovated clubhouse.

The first committee meeting of Caloundra Bowling Club was held at the School of Arts on August 30, 1944 and the club was officially formed when a site was selected and purchased in September 1944. 

A meeting to form a bowls club in Mooloolaba was held in the old Pacific Theatre on October 13, 1947. 

With much excitement, number one green opened for play in October 1949 and by March 1950 construction of the clubhouse was well advanced.

Coolum Beach Bowls Club was established on May 29, 1960.

The clubhouse was purchased from the Coolum Beach Surf Life Saving Club and re-erected during 1961 and 1962 on a portion of Morgan Park.

On November 2, 1963 the club was officially opened by Cr David Low MLA.

The warmth and hospitality our bowls clubs extend to visiting clubs and bowlers results in visitors coming regularly to the Sunshine Coast to participate in carnivals and competitions as well as establish and strengthen friendships.

Bowls clubs in the 21st century offer a welcoming family environment, a place for competition and social barefoot bowls and great food.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images which provide a wonderful visual record of the earlier years of some of our bowling clubs.

Hero image caption:

Official opening of the Yandina Ladies Bowling Club, Yandina on 17 May 1956.

Carousel images

Image 1: Nambour Bowls Club taken during a visit by the Queensland Bowling Association early in 1934. First stage of the original clubhouse pictured on far left.

Image 2: Official opening of the Nambour Bowls Club on 5 June 1933.

Image 3: Maroochydore Beach Bowling Club, Cotton Tree, 1955. The Ladies Bowling Club was formed in 1946 although there were a number of ladies listed among the foundation members in 1938.

Image 4: Men playing lawn bowls at Elston Guest House, Montville, 1930s.

Image 5: Bowlers on the green following the official opening of Mooloolaba Bowls Club's first club house, 22 July 1950.

Image 6: Bowlers on the green at the Swan Bowls Club, Maroochydore, during the Sunshine Coast Winter Carnival, August 1965. Visiting Bowlers from Victoria, New South Wales and Brisbane participated in the Carnival program, which was held on various club greens throughout the Sunshine Coast District.