The tiny club that plays and stays together

by Team BV

Tambo Valley Bowling Club is a lot of things.
It’s small, it’s isolated and it’s remote.
It’s also one of Victoria’s most picturesque clubs, most inspiring clubs and probably one of the best examples of what a bowling club is all about.
Based in East Gippsland, the club has a fantastic group of loyal members. Its committee.
They don’t play pennant, but every Thursday night all of the club’s loyal members (all 10 of them) come down to the club, catch up and have a few games of barefoot bowls. Following this they all head down to the local pub in Swifts Creek to share a meal for dinner.
Although their facilities need upgrading, they (like most clubs) need more members, and there are probably 101 other things that the club needs assistance with; they still remain positive and make do with what they have.
They’re involved with a number of community groups to make sure they’re getting the most use out of their facility. The club currently has connections with the local art groups, the Trackmaster group who host meetings and events at the club, as well as putting on events for people staying at the local caravan park. They’ve also built connections with the Planned Activity Group from the local hospital who use the club for various activities. They’re now turning their sights to Swifts Creek P-12 College and Omeo Primary School to build connections with families in the area.
With only 10 members, most of this work comes back to the same people time and time again. The fantastic, hardworking and enthusiastic club committee that includes President Marie, Vice-President Anne, Secretary Carol, and Treasurer Annie do the bulk of this work, but from time to time other members of the community are their to help out as well.
They’ve recently connected with the Men’s Shed who are going to help construct some shade at the end of the green, using materials donated by one of their sponsors, a timber company.
They’ve also got a new greenkeeper at the club. Jake’s a local tradesman who put his hand up to help, he makes do with the old, out-dated maintenance equipment at the club that is almost literally only still going on the smell of an oily rag. 
In the lead-up to the club’s annual Labour Day Tournament, a couple of members from their nearest club Bruthen, (which is an hour and a half’s drive) even came out to lend a hand to make sure the green was at its best.
Their Labour Day Tournament was a big success in 2016, with up to 70 people coming from Bruthen, Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance and Elsternwick to take part in a great, social competition.
The club normally runs two events each year; their Labour Day Tournament and their Alpine Triples that has been running in November for the past 39 years.
Unfortunately Tambo Valley were unable to proceed with the Alpine Triples in 2015. With next year being the 40th Anniversary of the first time the event was run, one of the club’s big focuses for the next 12 months is to ensure this event goes forward.
They also have a number of other projects they’re looking to achieve in the coming year.
Gippsport is currently helping Tambo Valley look at their facility, by doing an Access Audit. This audit will help the club identify ways to improve access to the clubrooms and the green, but also act as a tool to help with future grant applications.
Brenton Dinsdale of Gippsport has assisted the club through this process and says: “After meeting with the club’s committee and Bowls Victoria, plans are in place for further participation opportunities as well as improvements to the facilities coming from the Access Audit.”
“There’s great enthusiasm from the committee to not only increase participation, but improve accessibility to cater for the whole community that want to become engaged in bowls.”
Aside from improvements to the club and greater connections with the community the club is realistic of what they can achieve. Getting the Alpine Triples back on the calendar and improving the club’s facilities are well on track, and with greater connections to local community groups and schools, no doubt the club will continue to be a meeting place for the community. Although their community is small, the club is still there, and continues to play role within the community.
They might be small, and they might be isolated. But there are some great ideas flowing from Tambo Valley to help bring the rest of the community closer together. They’re a great example of small club doing great things, and while they hope to get back into pennant in the coming years, the Thursday night barefoot bowls in a beautiful alpine setting isn’t such a bad way to enjoy our sport in the mean time.
Special thanks to Carol Johnson for organising our visit and providing content for the article and Ann Bingham for supplying photographs from Tambo Valley’s March tournament.
If you’d like to hear more about the Tambo Valley Bowling Club or have some ideas that could help them continue their momentum, please get in touch with Bowls Victoria’s Participation & Club Development Manager Scott Nicholas on 03 9861 7111 or