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Toorak Burnside Bowling Club

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:44): I rise today to speak about the Toorak Burnside Bowling Club. As patron of this club, it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge their 100th year anniversary. For background, the club was established on 18 July 1918 by a group of community-minded residents of the new suburb of Toorak Gardens. The group agreed to privately fund and establish bowling greens, croquet lawns, grass tennis courts and a clubhouse with two billiard tables and a bar.

In its early years, the club flourished and was a popular venue for socialising. In 1953, the women's bowling division was created and the game of lawn bowls became so popular with both men and women that the club decided to disband the croquet club. The sport's popularity continued to grow, so in 1959, the club decided to sell the billiard tables to make room for afternoon tea and post-game refreshments for bowlers.

In 1972, the increasing costs of running a member-funded organisation took a toll on the club and they were forced to disband the tennis club and sell the accompanying land. Unfortunately, financial pressure continued to rise and the club made the decision to sell their most prized possession, the greenkeeper's cottage, which was generously donated by one of the club's first trustees, Mr Otto Von Rieben.

In 1982, the club held a major three-day bowls tournament which raised considerable revenue. The treasurer of the club and a committee member planned to deposit the revenue raised the following Monday after the event. However, to their disappointment they discovered that the club had been robbed. In 1983, in response to the robbery, the club held a successful fundraising auction. Five years later, the club suffered another loss when faulty electrical equipment caused a fire. Fortunately, the damage caused was covered by insurance. However, one loss that could not be recovered was the missing Galway trophy, awarded to the club by the governor of South Australia.

The 1990s saw the rise of the digital age and a decline in the number of new members joining the club. This change forced many clubs to close across Adelaide. In response, the Toorak Bowling Club reached out to other clubs to propose mergers. After negotiations, they eventually merged with the Burnside RSL Bowling Club. The merger transition was quite successful because both clubs shared the same values for heritage and tradition. In acknowledgement of the history of the Burnside RSL Club, the Diggers Day tournament was added to the club's annual calendar.

In 2000, the Toorak Burnside Bowling Club was still under financial pressure and needed a complete financial restructure, so the property was purchased by the Burnside council with a lease-back arrangement. In 2010, the clubhouse was subject to an arson attack, started by vandals who were searching for petty cash. Unfortunately, great damage was done to the ceiling area of the clubhouse.

Reflecting on this time, the club members view the arson attack as an event that united its members. It provided them with an opportunity to work together to overcome hardship. It also allowed them to come together to rethink the future layout, design and functionality of the clubhouse that exists today. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of this forward-thinking club for not only overcoming the arson attack but a number of obstacles they have faced throughout the years. I am proud of their past achievements and wish them the very best for the next hundred years to come.

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©2017 BY JOHN DARLEY.