Croquet Club going for Gold
It was Saturday 12 March 1928 at 2.30pm when the first croquet ball was rolled at the opening of the Canberra Croquet Club by Lady Butters, Chair of the Women’s Sports Association.
Lady Groom, wife of the Speaker of the House of Representatives was the first president of the club which had 41 members ranging from beginners to more experienced players.
Ladies only until the early 70s
Current President Hilary White says the club was started when the wives of parliamentarians and public servants began to arrive in Canberra looking for ways to keep busy and make social contacts.
“As many of these women lived in a Hostel number one (now the Hyatt Hotel) they didn’t have homes to run, so they got busy building a croquet and bowls lawn and a tennis court. Through the years they developed it and made it bigger and it remained a ladies club until the early 1970s,” she says.
Many Canberrans would drive past the croquet club each and every day which is located along Commonwealth Avenue. In the early days the quaint pavilion, which was opened in 1933, accommodated lavish afternoon teas and celebrations of the day’s competition.
Today the club still celebrates their achievements in the club house and has an active and healthy membership. They offer three mallet sports, Golf Croquet, Association Croquet and Gateball, which Hilary says appeals to younger audiences.
Hilary says they were motivated to put in a nomination for a Canberra Gold Award with the aim of protecting and promoting the organisation.
“It is vital to protect a club like this, that we keep this historical facility here and that it remains a community organisation that’s low cost to join and runs simple games that are easily learned,” she says.
“We play twilight croquet in the summer and have dinner at the club. Lots of older members now live on their own so it’s nice for older people to come along and mingle. We play all year-round and brave the elements in winter.
“We have a group of volunteers who work very hard to do the maintenance and help look after the greens.”
And the secret to being a great croquet player? Hilary says while some people are naturals at croquet, the trick to being a great player is great mental concentration.
Nominate your favourite ’50+’
Do you know of a club, business or individual that has lived or been established in Canberra for 50 years or more? You can nominate them here for a Canberra Gold Award.