It has been all quiet in the blogosphere for some time.  Either there has been nothing to report or there has been nothing that could be reported.

In short, Dubbo City Croquet Club has upped hoops and moved on.  The upping of hoops was not of our doing but the moving on has certainly been done under our own steam.

Members with longer memories than mine will swoop to correct me but my grasp of these matters is as follows.   There are records of croquet being played in Dubbo and against neighbouring towns in the 1890’s, and of croquet being established at the Dubbo City Bowling Club in 1906 with the lawns being laid down in 1908.  The impetus for this effort seems to have been altruistic in that the men bowlers wanted their women-folk to enjoy the same benefits of companionship and sport.

It was not until 1921 that the Croquet Club was formally established as a section of the Bowling Club.  Mrs T. D. Palmer was the inaugural president and held that position for an unbroken thirty-three years.  A clubhouse for croquet was built alongside the bowling club, facing the two courts and looking across Victoria Park to the fountain.   

For almost a century this has been a venue of skilled play, strong friendships and of aesthetic appeal.   Anniversaries have been observed at the usual chronological points as well as – unusually – the ninety-fifth (reported elsewhere, click on the 95th Birthday tab above).

Although we had been looking towards our centennial bash, events beyond our control and definitely beyond our influence – through no lack of our own efforts – have led to our seeking another venue. A number of possibilities were investigated by the executive, with consultation with the club’s membership, over the past year and a half.  Some of these were not suitable, others were strong possibilities but financially beyond our reach, and there were some potential solutions that fell into the “you’re dreaming!” category.

In the meantime and unbeknownst to us, the Muller Park Tennis Club had reached the point of closure.   MPTC is the successor of the Catholic Tennis Club which was established in 1924, and had long been a tower of strength in Dubbo’s considerable tennis community and a pillar of support for oncology services support and – more recently – for Camp Quality (  with fifty thousand dollars raised over the years.

After brief negotiations, MPTS voted to include croquet as a sport to be played and promoted at their site in Brisbane Street.

And so it came to pass.

The preparatory work of packing and sorting lead up to the final move on Monday, 10th December, thanks to the efforts of members (some were more able to be involved than others) and Michael of ‘Michael’s Moves’ (

For weeks now – months even – there has been some odd behaviour around the club.  Dark mutterings. Whispered conversations between only two people.  Appraising stares across the lawns.  Signals.  Covered-mouth conferrings. Strangely recurring pairings in the morning draws for play.

Ominously, a revised list of handicaps was issued.

What tidings?  Portents, undoubtedly, but of what?

Dear reader, it is the season of late frosts, warming days, the promise of a green flush in the lawns, buds a-buzzing and bees a-budding.  It’s spring and that means the Doubles Championships.

Not yet summer but (almost) all have switched to white trews and (almost) all have retained the winter top: it's the Spring Uniform.

Those months of preparations came to their appointed fruition on Saturday, 22nd September.  It is equally true, alas, that for some the preparations ended in abysmal failure but your scribe has enough on his plate without dwelling on the unhappier events in life.

We have noted in past years that Dubbo turns on a special sort of day for important events such as competitions and celebrations of the Dubbo City Croquet Club.  The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will just have to take their chances like everyone else.  (They will be in town on a Wednesday which is not a regular play day, but a practice session is often held late afternoon.  We have spare mallets and the green fee is modest.)

Our Games Captain – the dear man has such a lot to bear – had again meticulously prepared the programme and the first pairs were on the grass by 8:30.

Our lawns usually ring with laughter and comment, encouragement and bonhomie but the tone all day was of quiet intensity and concentration. Quite unnerving.   There was a steady trickle of non-competing members dropping in during the day to watch.

By the end of the afternoon there were three pairs well ahead of the pack.   Don and Pam Day were the winning combination, and second and third places were decided on nett games: Mavis Grant and Beth Stanley, Tom Barclay and novice player Tricia Shanks.

Silver, Gold and Bronze medalists.

Return Visit by Orange Croquet Club.

There is something magic when Dubbo and Orange meet.   The weather is always wonderful, the catering is magnificent and calorie-negative, the play of exceptional standard, and the fellowship warmly sincere and abiding.

The last Wednesday in August was chosen for no other reason than that it suited everyone.  President Ann Snape,  Secretary Rik Mills, Di Drew, Wal Stone, Jenny Sams, Len and Maria Banks, James Myles and Sharon Newton arrived promptly (when will the road works be finished?) and we were soon on the lawns. 

The morning's play was organised for mixed partners playing 7-hoop games.  Twenty games were fitted in before lunch (soup, sandwiches and sweets).  After lunch we played twelve 7-hoop games in home club pairs.

Our Club Captain read the entrails and came up with these results:  Dubbo - 5 wins - 34 hoops vs Orange - 4 wins - 29 hoops.

Annual General Meeting

The club’s annual general meeting was held on Saturday, 30th June with a large number of members in attendance.  As practiced hands at this sort of thing, business was dealt with expeditiously and office bearers were confirmed in their positions – Jenny Brown, Charles Campbell and Peter Heywood continue as President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively.  Liz Beazley replaces Jean Blight as Assistant Games Captain and we thank Jean for her involvement and contribution in that position over the years.  Margaret Sheridan takes on the role of Publicity Officer.

Presentations were made to winners of the All Year Golf Croquet Singles: Peter Heywood (Round 2) and Ben Vang (Final), and the runners-up: Del Heywood (Round 2) and Max Green (Final).

A special acknowledgement award was made to Bev Chapman for her perseverance and participation in competitive play, sportsmanship and overall contribution to the Club in numerous small ways.

The quarterly business meeting followed the presentations.  Players were encouraged to make the most of their green fees by playing before and after morning tea.  It was also pointed out that one can sleep in on cold mornings and come down to the club at morning tea time when the temperature is kinder.  

The meeting agreed that we will hold a training session on the fourth Thursday of each month, beginning after lunch.   The format will include provision for beginners and enquirers. 

Vale, Lilla Logan.

Lilla’s family and friends were joined by members of the Dubbo City Croquet Club to farewell her on Tuesday, 12th June. 

Lilla was raised on a farm near Trangie and thrived on the lifestyle becoming an active, sporty, robust child.  This proved to be the foundation of a life enriched in many ways; Lilla, in turn enriched the lives of many others throughout her life whether as wife and mother, neighbour or friend.

As a clay pigeon shooter Lilla was highly regarded but it was not until she and her husband, Peter, moved into ‘town’ that she took up croquet.  It was a wise choice as her shooting prowess was a transferrable skill.  She became an accomplished player and a treasured friend.  Her most recent triumph was winning the doubles championship in 2017 partnered with her brother, Tom Barclay.

Thank you, Lilla, we will miss you very much.


The Dubbo City Croquet Club has indeed been busy this month.  As well as our regular three mornings of play and Wednesday afternoon/evening practice sessions, we have conducted a tuition day, made a club visit and knocked off the singles championship.

Singles championships

Dubbo City Croquet Club doesn’t do things by halves; here is something it did double – singles championships!

For the 2018 year it was decided that the Singles Championship would be a round-robin in which entrants would play their matches (best of three games) over the first quarter of the year.  The aim of this format was to promote the opportunity to participate and to even out the playing variations of individuals: after all, everyone claims a day on which play is uncharacteristically poor, while wishing that the results were the outcome of one’s better days.

The date for the finals of this competition was set for the 24th March.

However, in order to ensure as many matches as possible could be played, this date was converted to a seven-hoop singles day open to all players grouped in handicap divisions.  Seven-hoop really puts the pressure on.  That first hoop takes on much more importance than it does in the usual ‘best of 13’ and being two hoops behind creates a greater sense of urgency.  5-2 sounds like a more convincing win than 4-3 whereas both games can be equally tight.

It was another great day at the Dubbo City Croquet Club – great weather, great play, great friendliness.  Margaret Sheridan won Division C, Charles Campbell won Division B and Tom Barclay blitzed all-comers in Division A.

The Six: Max Green, Tim Abbott, Ben Vang, Del Heywood
 Charles Campbell, Peter Heywood

Meanwhile, the singles match play continued as originally conceived and the finals date was moved to the 26th May.  Of all the players who completed their matches, the six who had the greatest net scores played a round-robin on that day.  The scores on that day were added to the net scores brought forward from the matches played earlier to determine the placings. 

There was some great play to be seen on the lawns that day and the players were heartened by the presence of spectators who enjoyed the morning thoroughly.  The winners of the round-robin day were Peter Heywood and Del Heywood while the overall results taking into account all the matches and the round robin day were Ben Vang in first place, and Max Green in second.  Congratulations to all.

Visit to Orange

Orange and Dubbo clubs hold an annual social visit.  Being an even numbered year Dubbo travelled to Orange. We gathered up a team of eight plus a spare, made a generous allowance for the road works on the way, and off we went.  For the week prior we had anxiously checked the weather forecast noting with dismay a maximum of 11° and winds but as the day appointed drew closer so the forecast temperature rose.  We arrived to a tolerable temperature which rose gradually to make a perfectly charming day, one that gave an azure dome tainted only by a jet trail.

Very nearly almost ready to start thinking about playing.
The format of the day is highly recommended.  Introductions, a pre-morning tea following by chat and morning tea, then a post-morning tea after which ‘best of seven’ was played with Orange and Dubbo players paired.  For those waiting their turn on the lawns, a grazing style of ongoing morning tea was provided.  Lunch was spelled  ‘s-u-m-p-t-u-o-u-s’.

A select contingent from Bathurst was welcomed and it was useful to have the attention of John Cooke, the regional convener, to air a few matters.

To balance the numbers the Bathurst players joined the Dubbo team and Orangeman Wal was deemed a Dubbonian for the day – thanks Wal.
And thanks three-fold and more to the hospitable Orange club for a very enjoyable day on the lawns and in the clubhouse, and for involving so many of their new members in the day.

Tuition Day

We schedule a tuition day annually – last year Graham Innocent accepted our invitation to be the tutor (his first outing in that new capacity) and the year before that our tutor was Barb Piggott.

This year our Games Captain organised the information and lined up a batch of our better players to arrange an in-house presentation.  Ben Vang took us through the basics of hitting the ball and running the hoop – it is always instructive to go back to basics as it consolidates technique and leads to extending one’s skills.  Peter Heywood gave useful and practical advice on tactical play, Beth Stanley was very informative on the use of extra turns and Tom Barclay inspired an outbreak of jumping practice.

Not by coincidence this was held a week before our visit to Orange.

More visitors

Further to our hosting a day out for the chaps of Horizons Village Men’s Shed, we welcomed a mixed group of residents from that village on the last day of February.   The weather was a pleasant move away from the intensity of the high temperatures and the ultra-violet burn of an extended summer towards the promise of milder autumn.  As at the time of writing, however, we are still awaiting confirmation that there will actually be an autumn this year.  The visitors were so taken with the experience that after morning tea when Peter and Charles left, they dragged Max back out on the lawns for more play until lunch time.

Other visitors in recent weeks have been our special chums, the maggies.  Baby magpies are nearly to full adult height by now while still showing their nestling colours and still sooking about being fed.  We were amused by one hard-working parent pacing at the end of Lawn Number One, turning and looking hither and yon, a succulent grub in her beak – one could sense the frustration that all parents identify, “Where is that rotten kid?  I’ve prepared a meal and it’s gone off somewhere.”

Another avian visitor worth mentioning is the Dumpsteris duckii . They step grandly to better display their white plumage and magnificent curved beaks as they go about the smorgasbord breakfast they assemble of black bugs from out of the lawns.

Crows occasionally call by to offer advice but I fear there are few fans of its song.  Some butcher birds came for a holiday stay of several weeks in January, and crested pigeons come and go.  A courting pair on the edge of Lawn Number Two had the stamina and histrionics of an operatic hero and heroine. Honey eaters call in to snack on the Canna flowers from time to time.

Other visitors to the garden receive less attention but are working just as hard – European honey bees are there every day and we are starting to see a variety of native bees coming in to see what is on offer.  Cunning of a non-croquet kind is on display by the black grubs which make their topside appearance after the avian breakfasters have moved on. 

Our ladies of croquet (and, yes, the term is a ‘croquette’ – or so I am informed by one with an air of great confidence) hosted a morning tea for the ladies of the Dubbo City Bowling Club on Thursday 10th April.  There was a goodly number of both groups in attendance and the pleasure generated by the chat and fellowship of the morning was equalled only by the provisioning of the festive board.

More recently, Mark Horton came around for a chat about the NSW Government’s Office of Sport and his role as Regional Co-ordinator.  Co-incidentally, as he was leaving, Robert and Virginia Brown from Adelaide called in on their way through to (ultimately) Cooktown.  They had some of their impressive Transforma mallets with them so, of course, we had to get them out on to the lawns and put them through their paces.

What can follow all that? Our visit to the Orange Croquet Club on the 23rd May, of course.  To prepare for that event, we are holding a tuition and practise day the previous week.