Shoalhaven Heads Bowling and Recreation Club will celebrate its 50th anniversary year with a number of events throughout May, including a members’ gala dinner. Club president Robert Ashby expressed his pride at the achievements of the club throughout its half century.
“Having spent all my school holidays and most weekends in Shoalhaven Heads as a child and teenager from 1960 and then as a permanent resident from 1980, I have been able to watch at firsthand how the bowling club grew from its very humble beginnings to the wonderful community facility it is today,” he said.
“It is extremely pleasing to see how many local young families and couples are becoming regular visitors to the restaurant and to the club in general,” Mr Ashby said. “The Jerry Bailey Bar and Grill continues to be very popular and well-patronised by members and visitors every day of the week. The children’s playground area is a great attraction for the many young children now coming to the club with their parents. Our club is no longer seen as only a place for ‘oldies’ to go to. This bodes very well for our future on-going growth and success.”
Intra-clubs have always been an integral part of the club’s structure, providing high quality sporting, social and cultural activities for members. There is a wealth of choice for members with intra-clubs providing activities in men’s bowls, women’s bowls, social bowls, fishing club, social golf, darts, euchre, indoor bowls and computer club.
Shoalhaven Heads Bowling and Recreation Club plays an important role on many levels within the local community. “We continue to strongly support local sporting, school, welfare and charity organisations via our community grants,” Mr Ashby said. “Our total commitment to community grants this year was $163,146.”
The club also provides a meeting centre for local community groups, including Lions club, Probus, Shoalhaven Heads Community Forum, Shoalhaven Heads RSL Sub-Branch and senior citizens.
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HISTORY & future
The origins of the club can be traced back to the desire of the locals of the small, sleepy village of the 1960s, to have a ‘watering-hole’ and meeting place, without having to travel to Berry or Nowra. A public meeting was held in May 1967, to look at possible ways of getting a licenced premise in Shoalhaven Heads. In January 1968, a further public meeting endorsed the idea for a bowling club.
The board’s first objective was to find a suitable site for a clubhouse. After several attempts, it was able to negotiate with Mr Robert Davenport, to purchase a block of land on Shoalhaven Heads Road, which at this time was a dusty sandtrack to the beach. Work took place to clear the bush to produce a bowling green, with the first sod being turned in May 1968 and the first bowl rolled on the green in December 1968.
The next hurdle was to obtain a liquor licence and after several frustrating attempts a licence was finally granted in May 1970. Work then began on building a proper clubhouse. By December 1970, the clubhouse was ready to operate. Eric Flack was appointed as the first secretary manager. The official opening of the clubhouse occurred in May 1971. The club at this stage had eight poker machines.
As club membership grew, so did the need for larger premises. Extensions to the original clubhouse were made in 1972-73 and 1976. By the 1980s, with membership now over 1200, the decision was made to build a new clubhouse. The new clubhouse was completed in 1982-83, together with the demolition of the old clubhouse and the purchase of six adjoining blocks of land to provide adequate car parking spaces.
Further extensions to the club took place on a regular basis from 1989 to 2005. Under current secretary manager Michael Bowen, significant work has taken place to bring the club into the 21st century, using best examples of modern club design and features. There have been major renovations and upgrades from 2012 to 2017. The club’s recent improvements have focused on developing outside facilities, including improvements to the old barbecue area, developed into The Garden Bar, with giant television screen, new covered area and bar, gardens and landscaping.
The club started putting solar panels on its roof in 2014 through local community-owned solar project, Repower Shoalhaven. This original project, the first of its kind in the region, has proven so successful in providing energy savings for the club and financial returns for investors they’re now looking to multiply the number of solar panels they have. The club is looking forward to switching on this new system in May.