A Short History of Clunes Bowling Club

The bowls club was inaugurated in 1878 and the Town Clerk and Surveyor, Arthur Batson, laid out the greens. Although there was some early concern about the annexing of land in the middle of the public reserve for a private club, the club has been very popular over the years and became an integral part of the town. By the end of the 19th century a pavilion had been erected (approved by council in 1882) and the greens renovated and extended.  Films were shown at nights as a fund-raiser for the club.  By 1912 the club was able to play bowls at night, under gas and acetylene lights.  In those early days the membership was entirely male, with ladies providing refreshments.  Membership of ladies was proposed as early as 1899, but it was not until 1921, with drastically declining membership, that nine ladies were allowed to join for half the usual subscription fee. In 1924 the Ladies Croquet Club was also using the greens.  A Ladies Bowling Club was formally started on 20 October 1927 and the ladies contributed considerably to the state of the pavilion and in raising funds.  The present clubroom (see photo on the right) was built in 1965.  The men's and ladies clubs formally merged in May 1987.  Early photographs of the club can be seen on the gallery.

It would appear that for much of the early life of the bowls club the land was not reserved for that use: the whole of the reserve was temporarily reserved in 1887 as "public gardens".  This was rectified in 1963, with that reservation being revoked for an area of 3 roods 10 perches for the bowls club.  Over the years the greens have been shaded by large trees along its borders and poplar suckers have been a recurring problem.  In 1887 gum trees were removed to facilitate the growth of pines between the club and Ligar St.  Trees have been removed at various times since that date, between the creek and the club and outside the southern boundary of the club.  Recent removals have resulted in articles and letters of complaint in the newspaper. While blame was laid on the club, acting outside its authority (the club had also appropriated the old tennis court as a car park and built a shed outside its southern boundary), it would appear that the correct formal channels had been followed.  However, the bowls club now effectively cuts the reserve in two, isolating the southern "pinetum" from the rest of the gardens.  The result is that Queen's Park to most people is merely the northern area containing the fountain.