Batemans bowlers left looking for greener pastures

Batemans bowlers left looking for greener pastures

Batemans Bay lawn bowlers are incredulous over the loss of $6 million worth of greens, their licensed club and equipment in just three years.

The club, in the NSW coastal town popular with Canberran holidaymakers, is being forced to close its doors on Wednesday night - three years after an amalgamation with a nearby club.

The men's president Greg Wale said they could not have imagined what happened, after signing an agreement to amalgamate with the Catalina Country Club.

He said they were struggling and thought the bigger club would save them, but instead it led to their quick demise.

"They said they would close it on the 28th, (Thursday) so we planned a wake.

"Now they're shutting it tonight (Wednesday). It's mind boggling what they are doing.


"We are gutted.

"We're all here for companionship. We've made friends, we love the camaraderie.

"That's all been taken away. They took our poker machines. They closed our restaurant, they just gutted the place."

In November the Catalina Club advised members of a trial to allow trading at the bowling club to continue under limited opening hours.

But in the latest update to members president Catalina Country Club president Kim Odgers said following a review in January and February which revealed a substantial and unsustainable decrease in trading revenue, the club would shut on March 28.

Catalina's chief executive was unavailable for comment. The Canberra Times is awaiting to hear from Mr Odgers.

Mr Wales said the Catalina's previous chief executive and board had wooed the bowlers and convinced them they could turn around the fortunes of the club, which has a membership of 260 men and women.

They expected turnover to increase to about $1 million annually. If the worst-case scenario happened and they did have to sell the club, they would make greens on Catalina's golf course and everyone could continue bowling.

A new board and chief executive had ignored that hand-shake agreement, and told the bowlers there was no room at the Catalina.

Mr Wale said the land, zoned private recreation, was about a kilometre from Hanging Rock, a collection of sporting and community ovals and buildings which will undergo a $50 million redevelopment.

His members were hoping the bowling club could feature in the redevelopment plans, but worried Eurobodalla Shire Council wouldn't have enough money to help.

"We're the number one club on the coast. We have a town of 16,000, now the only town without a bowling club," Mr Wale said.

The nearest club at Malua Bay was 20 kilometres away.

John Thistleton

John Thistleton is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

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