Think of lawn bowls, and you will probably imagine elderly men and women in white, competing in sombre silence. But in Australia the game is being taken over by the young and the hip – who want to have fun and walk barefoot on the grass.
They are tanned, they are twenty-something and they are drinking beer, with the vast South Pacific Ocean stretching off into the distance.
This is the scene at Clovelly Bowling Club in Sydney, one of 2,000 bowling clubs in the country where the game is undergoing a youthful transformation.
There are no dress codes, no rigid regulations and no shoes – think swimming trunks rather than starched whites.
Barefoot bowls, as players lovingly call the new game, has been growing for more than a decade, possibly driven by two Australian pop culture phenomena – a low-budget comedy film called Crackerjack released in 2002, and a Melbourne-based TV show called the Secret Life of Us which aired from 2001 – 2005.
Both featured young people playing lawn bowls, albeit somewhat ironically, and that – says Tony Sherwill of Bowls Australia – started changing the image of the sport.
“For a lot of people the stereotype was that bowls was played by retirees and it was stiff, but those two shows busted the stereotypes that people had,” he says.
Mick Malloy who wrote, produced and starred as the title character Jack in Crackerjack, says he’s glad the film seems to have had this unintended effect.
“Even though there’s a bowls club in pretty much every town I think young people kind of just walked past them and felt it was ‘secret old people’s business’,” he says.
“Hopefully the film showed that bowls clubs by and large are very welcoming, and fun places to be – a game of bowls is basically a front for a social occasion. And, as Jack says [in the film], the drinks are at 1970s prices. That probably helped.”The new clientele has helped breathe new life into a sport that was in decline.
Bruce Hockey, 61, a competitive bowler at the Clovelly Bowling club, says it was close to closing a few years ago, but the influx of new players turned things around.
“At one stage it was going pretty bad, but the new bare footers, that’s why the club is doing so well. We get 200 bare footers every weekend and it’s really big money.”
These casual players generally don’t become registered members of the clubs they frequent, opting to pay by the hour to play instead. They also spend a lot more at the bar than the older generation.
“It’s more about socialising with your mates It’s like a daytime alternative to going out and drinking at a bar,” says Justine Anderson, 31.
“I know I don’t take it seriously. I play it like I am playing 10-pin bowling.”
We have lots of old lawn bowling clubs in Ontario, but some have closed down in recent years. I hope this spreads across the Pacific!
Interesting trend! :)
I woke up to the sound of rain. My first thought was water running down your face. Hours pass, but beauty never fades. Pasteup by Minou, Collingwood.
Good work! :)
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Great shot! :)
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I’m in Company Magazine!
Exciting news- I am in this month’s issue of Company’s High Street Edit magazine as part of a Beach Bloggers feature!
You can pick up the mag in newsagents now to read my piece about the surfers’ haven, Bondi Beach. I think this is a sign I need to go back!
You can read my blog post about Bondi here.
I’m also thrilled to be on the Company website talking about why I feel you should spend your hard earned cash on travel rather than blowing it on clothes and nights out.
You can read it here.
I’m so excited to be involved in Company, a magazine I read religiously. Another dream come true!
Check out While I’m Young and Skinny !
Not much can beat the fun in the days leading to Easter like playing and having fun on a beach and for Prince William and Kate the Duchess of Cambridge Sydney’s Manly Beach in Australia was it! Happy Easter everyone!
Fantastic shots! :)
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After spending a week apartment hunting on the Gold Coast, actually finding an apartment, and coming within 24 hours of putting down a deposit, we made the completely natural 20-something decision to pack up our bags and road trip north… with a German traveler we found online who had two open seats in her camper-van. We spent two nights camping at Coochan Creek with her and an eclectic crew of backpackers and Aussie adventurists, but our desire for a proper shower overrode our lust for a coastal road trip and we knew it was time to move on.
Hopping on a bus we found our way to Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast and fell head-over-heels in love. The vibe we get here is Europe meets Southern California, with all the positives of both and hardly any negatives. Our evening went something like this: beach, wine, Tim-Tams (the best cookie ever made), wine, live music, beach… you get the idea. We would stay, but we already bought our bus tickets up to Airlie Beach, so we are marking Noosa as a to-be-continued…
Super cool bus! :)
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Tasmania is mostly known for its devils, but it certainly felt like basking in paradise once we had a chance to visit this corner of the world. Picturesque meadows, lush rainforests, beaches with water so clear that the waves are almost see-through — this state has it all.
With it being peak season, I was expecting the parks to be overrun with visitors, but amazingly, crowds were sparse. It was even a bit ironic that Tasmania is one of the rare places where I didn’t meet a lot of Aussie adventurers. Truly, there were times when I felt like we were the only group carousing through the garden of Eden in a coaster bus.
If you’re planning to visit Tasmania, I’d recommend for you to fly into Launceston and start exploring from there. Whether you’re heading west for the mountains and rainforests, or heading east for the beaches like we did, it’s all accessible from there. If you want to visit the same aquamarine paradisos, check out the itinerary for Jump Tour’s East Coast Adventure.
Fantastic shots, must have been an awesome adventure! :)
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Descent (street impressions)
Nice shot! :)
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Day 15: Sand between my toes
Sunday, February 23: Lazy days are extra easy when you live opposite the beach. Me, my flip flops and my sketch pad spent the day lazing around, soaking up the sun and watching the world go by. #Lush.
Cool post! :)
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Isn’t making new friends one of the best things in the world? A friend who enjoys photography as much as you do and who also tries every type of topping on their fro-yo. I’ve made a couple of new friends lately and I had the pleasure of going to the beach with my friend April (ironic as my name is “June” in Norwegian). Yes, there was adventure involved. Yes, there was too much frozen yoghurt. Yes, we did take a million photos. Yes, she got extremely sunburned… Summer is over, so we have to enjoy our last days of warm weather while we can. Quoting Nelly Furtado: “Why must all good things come to an end?”.
Australia isn’t that cold in winter anyways, so I’m very much looking forward to wearing jeans for the first time in 6 months! Somewhere the limit of how many outfits look good in 30 degree weather is reached… Goodbye, summer! You will be missed.
see you soon x
Wonderful shot, too bad summer ever ends. :)
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Cape Tribulation is where World Heritage Daintree Rainforest meets the other World Heritage, the Great Barrier Reef – all three paradises on Earth!
The Cape Tribulation region is home to over 3,000 plant species including trees, vines, palms, ferns, epiphytes, as well as the world’s largest and smallest tree ferns and cycads. Unknown plants and animal species are still being discovered. Many of the animals come alive at night and the region has many nocturnal activities, which are especially enjoyable in the summer months.
But these figures lying on the beach are not beached whales – they are backpackers who lost their backpacks in carefree and utter enjoyment of sun, sea, sand, flora and fauna.
Love them wild and crazy backpackers! :)
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I met this incredible Norwegian boy at the hostel in Byron Bay. He was one of the most interesting people I have ever met, and possibly the happiest. Sindre was all smiles, all laughs.
We rented surf boards together with my free passes, and he and I tried out the waves on Main Beach my second-to-last morning in Byron.
He plans to come back to Sydney before he heads home, and then possibly a trip to the US (and a roadtrip with me) could be in the future.
Wonderful shot, you two look pretty good together! :)
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