VO2023 – we had a blast!

by Melanie Allen

The Henselite Victorian Open has wrapped up for another year, the first of five to be held in the lovely Latrobe Valley/Gippsland Region.

The conclusion of day ten and the final day of the event saw some unbelievable finishes in both the Men’s & Women’s Singles and Pairs finals, we really couldn’t have asked for a better finish to our first Vic Open in the Latrobe Valley.

The crowd loved it, U18 bowlers who stayed on to watch after their event were in awe, and when Latrobe City Council Mayor, Cr Kellie O’Callaghan, joined the commentary team she was hooked! We’re pretty sure the finalists were loving the atmosphere as well.

BV General Manager Commercial Operations, Andrew Haug stated, “as the Governing Body for the sport in Victoria, we have been incredibly humbled by the support received in launching the first ever Vic Open in the Latrobe Valley. From our event partners to the incredibly hard-working team of volunteers at each of the host clubs, right through to our wonderful contingent of bowlers (several of whom travelled as far as Hong Kong and California), this year’s Vic Open played an integral role in showcasing the sport of Bowls to the rest of the world.”

Latrobe City Mayor, Cr Kellie O’Callaghan, with BV’s Andrew Haug & Jimmy Whitehead

The Bowls Vic team along with so many participants loved getting to know the Open’s new home in Gippsland, over the extended 10-day schedule. The facilities in Gippsland were first class. We were pleased to introduce the newly minted Barb Gilbert Medal, awarded to the player who had the most success during the Vic Open, and is generously sponsored by Karingal Bowling Club. This year’s award was presented to Thor Shannon. The Barb Gilbert Medal (formally Vic Medal) is named after Barb, who has been instrumental in the conception and growth of the Vic Open over the past 10 years.

Events & Competitions Mangager, Jimmy Whitehead said, “what a great start to the Vic Open in the Latrobe Valley Region. The clubs were incredibly welcoming to all players, providing excellent facilities and great organisation. Throw in some challenging circumstances with weather, we all managed to pull of a memorable event. We can’t wait to see this event grow, year on year, into the foreseeable future”.

The team was proud to present 35 games and 80+ hours of live streaming during VO2023, and this doesn’t happen without the best stream team in town! Well done to our producer Brad, and commentators Jimmy, Matt, Josh, Tony, Mel, plus all the guest commentators throughout the event including Tris, Tyson, Ange, Troy, Matt Flapper, Cr O’Callaghan, Vinnie, Sophie – too many to mention them all…

Leon & Karen, Heathmont.

This year we introduced VO Supporter Events, for those who may have been knocked out after sectional play and were looking for another day of bowls action, or even those planning a day trip. Our thanks to both Warragul and Newborough Bowling Clubs for hosting these events. Unfortunately, the Open Triples scheduled at Newborough got washed out, but the Mixed Pairs at Warragul was thoroughly enjoyed by those who entered. Congrats to the winners, Leon Verkuyl and Karen Tanti from Heathmont Bowling Club.

Also added to the event lineup was the U18 Mixed Pairs event. The locals, both bowlers and non-bowlers, loved watching the skill of the junior bowlers and their enthusiasm for the game.

“What was really pleasing about the new and improved Vic Open in Gippsland was the welcoming nature of all the host clubs. All participants were full of praise for the volunteers and staff at the club they played at, said BV CEO, Tony Sherwill. “I think we’ve found a terrific new home for our largest event and the 2nd biggest event in Australia. To have players coming from the USA, UK and Asia, along with players from all parts of Australia, it’s a real celebration of both bowls and Gippsland.”

A massive thank you to our two hub clubs Traralgon Bowls Club & Morwell Bowling Club, as well as the other 20 clubs who hosted around the region, and the swarm of volunteers who made everyone welcome over the 10 days of bowls. Thank you!

Once again, to our VO2023 partners, host clubs, staff, volunteers and event ambassadors, thank you!


Latrobe City Council
Destination Gippsland
Latrobe Valley Authority
State Government Victoria
AM Sportswear
Traralgon Bowls Club
Morwell Bowls Club

VO2023 Ambassador Matt Flapper with his Ocean Grove teammate and Men’s Singles Winner Brad Pavey
Mixed PairsPhil Crowder & Leonie Flynn (Karingal)
Men’s PairsJosh Corless (Sub- Bundoora RSL) & Mathew O’Brien (Yarra Glen)
Women’s PairsAnita Jenkins (Somerville) & Tris Doolan (MCC)
Men’s TriplesRyan Kearns, Michael Stevenson & Thor Shannon (Essendon)
Women’s TriplesSophie Kurzman (Sunbury), Kate Argent-Bowden (Angaston)
& Tris Doolan (MCC)
Men’s SinglesBrad Pavey (Ocean Grove)
Women’s SinglesJenny Miller (Leongatha)
U18 Mixed PairsAmity Bickley (Berwick) & Kaleb Shaw (Bundoora RSL)
Barb Gilbert MedallistThor Shannon (Essendon)

Relive VO2023 – check out all the results, photos and live stream replays here: