Bowled over with enthusiasm
By Kate Lockyer
Just across the road from New Farm Park is the New Farm Bowls Club, home to the current Division 1 Pennants champions in the region.
Club President Dean Merlo said: “We are attracting a lot of young state players, but we still welcome beginners and have coaching available.”
Joel Hay is one of the almost 150 full-time members and said he and his mates can be found at the bowls club almost every Friday afternoon.
“I got into bowls there because I was at a buck’s party, and I just thought it was a really fun activity, and as I started playing, I immediately found myself getting competitive,” Mr Hay said.
He now plays competitions with his friends and has just started playing for the Div. 1 New Farm Lightning team.
Coming from a man who was ranked #6 in Queensland in tennis, the 32-year-old said: “Bowls is not just an old person’s sport, it is absolutely a young person’s game as well.”
“It is incredibly competitive, a game where you are constantly making improvements to the way that you play, and there are lots of tactics, strategy and skill involved.”
“The bowls club is a great place to spend time with friends. We all live in the area, and there is nothing better than the sense of community.
“It’s just a bunch of salt-of-the earth, good people… there’s nothing better than a cold beer and a roll up,” he said.
The club has just announced that the main green is open again this month, and so kids will be allowed back to play on the top green.
Club Vice-President Mark Huntley said: “We’ll have two designated lanes for walk-ins on the weekend, so you can come in anytime, pay and play.”
Not only will it be easier for people to stop by for a game on weekends, but they may also be enticed by the smell of coffee, bacon and eggs, with breakfast offerings on the horizon.
Merlo Coffee has provided a brand-new coffee machine and the club currently caters for three business network groups who meet there in the mornings.
Mr Huntley said the club, which was built in 1907, is one of the oldest bowling clubs in Brisbane.
Sir Samuel Griffiths, who helped write Australia’s constitution, was a member there.
Chef Craig Wright’s bistro is named Turner’s Paddock Bistro, a nod to the previous owner of what was once farmland where the bowls club now stands.
Mr Wright, who also owns his own catering business, said the club is a popular place for celebrations, having hosted many birthday parties, baby showers and more, and offering tailored menus for any occasion for up to 250 people.
They have live music on Tuesday nights, trivia on Wednesdays, free kid’s meals on Thursdays, and a members’ draw on Friday nights.
Mr Wright said his “nutritious and homemade” chicken tenders and spaghetti Bolognese are popular on their Thursday family nights.
The team has said that student nights with cheap drinks are also in the works.
New manager Rick Muir, who has recently come to the club from the XXXX Brewery Alehouse, said the club offers a range of craft beers.
“I rotate the taps at least once a week, so there is always something new to try,” he said.
New Farm Bowls Club offers a $15 social membership, which gets you discounted food and drinks, plus entry into the member’s draw.
They are currently open Tuesday – Thursday from 5pm, and Friday – Sunday from midday.