A Day in the Life…

Barwon Heads is both a seaside town of holiday dreaming and a place on the move with a transient population of tourists and residents. Roslyn Hames takes a look at Barwon Heads through different sunglasses.

The Crackerjacks

       A mid-thigh hemline and high boots is not the obvious attire to don for a visit the Barwon Heads Bowling Club, but I soon discovered that if I had arrived in bare feet I still would have been welcome. You see, thanks to the movie Crackerjack, bowls is bathing in a fresh new light where young meets old and the emphasis has shifted towards sociability.
       I was greeted most hospitably at the entrance of the clubhouse by the departure of the nattering Men’s Pennant Division, bowl bags in arms and dressed in ‘civvies’, revved after a rigorous 25 ends (bowls speak). There was not a white hat to be seen. A few stragglers remained inside enjoying – and I must let this kitty out of the bag – the cheapest ale in Barwon Heads ($1.80 for a VB and $1.20 for a soft drink). My sparkly-eyed host, Les Jennings, who swiftly introduced me to Jim and Cliff and Ron and Stan and others, welcomed me and I felt like a part of the family.
      Les brims with enthusiasm for the game and the club. Born in Barwon Heads in 1928, he has a long association with the local fire brigade. Les used to run cows from where the club now stands down to Taits Road on his grandfather’s property and the land from Taits to the river was owned by his aunty. He has been a past president of the club (incorporated in 1975) and is currently the secretary.
       Les is also a member of the greens committee. Les showed me the greens, a velvety rectangle of contemplation, a most relaxing space. The greens has its own official opening ceremony at the start of the season and strikes me as almost reverent. Mornings, Les rises at 8.30am to mow and roll the green. (A green ‘doctor’ comes to the club once a week to appraise the lawn, but club members are responsible for daily care.) Les then returns home to change, and then play bowls and finishes with a few beers. He also helps organise the calendar and team draws, and attends to correspondence.
        While the most senior member is 88 years old, the club boasts a new junior team – youngest member 13-years-old – showing, what I am told, great promise. The weekly calendar consists of men’s, women’s and mixed events, social casual days (Thursdays), coaching and practice (Fridays), and special sponsored days. The juniors train on Sunday mornings so as not to conflict with cricket.
          Before I left, I enjoyed a mean lemon-lime-and-bitters on the house while chatting to my gracious host and the remaining lads. ‘If someone wants to play in jeans and bare feet, they are most welcome,’ I was told. Then Les took me to the shed where an array of mowers, rollers and other greens’ equipment are stored, as well as cupboards of bowls donated to the club for new members, just itching to be bowled.
    For enquiries, contact Les Jennings on 5254 3124 or pop in at anytime for a beverage and meet your local crackerjacks.