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HomeLatest NewsLocals band together to save the Bally Bowlo

Locals band together to save the Bally Bowlo

Balgowlah Bowling Club has been a social hub in the suburb for decades, but after some recent hard times, the much-loved establishment may have to close its doors.

Tony Wagener is the Bowling Club Secretary. Over the past few years, he has had to overcome a series of hurdles to keep the venue alive, and now he is faced with an impending deadline.

“Our cash reserves at the Bowling Club are just too low for us to continue trading,” he said.

“Most of that is due to a delay in obtaining our outdoor licence and preventing us from being able to obtain that critical summer trade to get us through the quieter months.

“This week, our primary goal is to raise $20,000 to ensure that the club can continue trading, with a longer stretch goal of $50,000 within the month.”

Tony with Northern Beaches band Lime Cordiale who filmed a music video at the club.

The potential displacement of the regular bowlers who attend the venue is a heavy concern for the club.

Not only that, the unique range of community groups who use the venue for similar purposes are also under threat.

“Keeping active the older you get is extremely important. Bowls play a really important role in keeping our bowling members active and former members who can no longer bowl mentally active,” Tony said.

“We also host many community activities such as Tai Chi, we have a business networking group that comes fortnightly on Thursdays, and a vintage fitness group to help keep members 50-plus active and mobile.”

The club has been operating since it opened its doors in 1956.

Balgowlah Bowling Club 1956

Walking through the club today is like stepping foot into a time capsule, with a few updated exceptions.

Attendees can enjoy a wide-open vintage space with plenty of cold beverages to drink on tap or otherwise, paired with a great selection of food from the Carly May kitchen, including a newly added roast on Sundays.

Those looking for some extra entertainment can make their way to the ‘Locker Room’ where they can enjoy a game of pool, darts or multiple sports on the wall-mounted TVs.

Balgowlah Bowling Club today.

From Thursdays to Sundays, there is also an array of activities to partake in, including trivia, live music, functions and, yes, barefoot bowls with a nicely timed happy hour from 4 to 6pm.

But you would be mistaken if you believed the Bowling Club was a one-demographic district, rather, it attracts people from all walks of life within the community.

David Bartholomeuz, the Balgowlah Bowling Club Captain, explains he constantly sees people wander into the venue and become amazed by what they find.

David Bartholomeuz, Balgowlah Bowling Club Captain.

“Everybody comes here and everybody loves it. And people who have never come here before are absolutely shocked and surprised, and very, very pleasant, and want to come back again,” David said.

“So we are now fighting back, having to find the bowlers and the money, and people to support us. And we need sponsors to make that happen.”

Zach De Rooy, a 24-year-old local, comes to the club most Sundays to enjoy the facilities and a brisk brew.

“There’s nothing better than going down to Bally Bowlo on a Sunday and getting into the barefoot bowls,” Zach said.

“The facilities are off tap, the brews are cold, and the whole thing is just bloody sweeto burrito.”

Ariel view of Balgowlah Bowling Club

Northern Beaches Deputy Mayor, Georgia Ryburn, said the club is her local watering hole and its facilities like this that are the fabric of the community.

“It’s a place that you can bring the whole family for a Sunday roast or celebrate a 16th birthday or a 60th birthday, or even fundraise for a local charity,” the Deputy Mayor said. 

“That’s why it’s really important that the community gets behind the club at this critical time and I’ve been working with council staff to look at the different options of how we can also help and support them.”

The Deputy Mayor said she is looking into a payment plan which could help the club back up on its feet.

Mayor Sue Heins (left) with Deputy Mayor Georgia Ryburn (right).

The ‘Save the Bowlo’ campaign has just surpassed its goal of $20,000. Tony is incredibly grateful for the support so far but emphasises there’s still a way to go.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from members of the community,” Tony said.

“We are so grateful we made it past phase one of the fundraising. Now let’s get past phase two and raise 50K so the Bowlo can continue being a pillar of the community!”

The Balgowlah Bowling Club has been uniting people for 65 years, and with the quick turnaround in fundraising, it looks like it’s still succeeding in this role.

If you want to see the Bowlo legacy live on, donate here, and better yet, join the community at the venue for a cold drink and a good meal.

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

Kim Smee, Editor


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