Beloved bowlo facing closure after neighbours complain of noise

Locals say birthday parties, noise from people playing lawn bowls and other sports games and ceremonies are disruptive.

Members seen raising their hands in joy at the Bowling & Community Club, as it faces closure.
The Balgowlah Bowling & Community Club has been in operation for some 68 years, but that may all soon be about to come to an end. Source: Australian Sports Foundation/Save the Bowlo

A beloved community bowling club in operation for almost 70 years is facing permanent closure if it doesn't come up with $20,000 within the next week, as it grapples with soaring running costs and a string of noise complaints.

The popular Balgowlah Bowling & Community Club, located on Sydney's Northern Beaches, has been in operation for some 68 years, having been founded in 1956. But that may all be about to change if board members can't come up with the cash.

The club, which unlike others in the city, does not rely on pokies for income, says it needs $20,000 up front this week and an additional $30,000 in the coming weeks just to be able to stay open during winter.

Tony Wagener, the club's secretary manager launched the “Save the Bally Bowlo” campaign. He says they're a crucial part of Australia's identity. "Bowling clubs are closing at an alarming rate across Australia," he lamented. "Yet they remain a critical part of our cultural fabric, deserving preservation for future generations.

Members seen enjoying the Bowling & Community Club on the green, as it faces closure.
The club does not rely on pokies for income - but it comes at a cost. Source: Australian Sports Foundation/Save the Bowlo

"If we fail to meet our fundraising goal, the doors will close for good, and the site may be redeveloped, erasing a vital community asset."

Wagener said that extended delays in securing a licence to service liquor outdoors contributed to the club's struggling revenue, in addition to a two-year noise dispute with neighbouring residents.

Those complaints, lodged by 16 locals, were investigated during the pandemic years. According to residents, noisy patrons playing barefoot bowls and drinking outdoors reverberates through their homes on weekends. In addition, they say soccer games, kids' birthday parties and award ceremonies are also disruptive.

Despite the complaints, in mid-2022, Liquor and Gaming NSW found in favour of the club. Nevertheless, the impact on the club was felt, board members say.

“The club is not in this financial position because of any mismanagement,” Wagener told The Manly Daily. "It’s due to issues largely out of our control.”

He said the club had also started hosting "milestone" events such weddings, birthday and engagement parties in a bid to boost profits.

The Bowling & Community Club is pictured, as it faces closure over lack of funds and noise complaints.
Tony Wagener, the club's secretary manager said "bowling clubs are closing at an alarming rate". Source: Australian Sports Foundation/Save the Bowlo

There are 10 bar staff which rely on the club for income and any money raised would help to secure its future, Wagener added.

"We’re trading reasonably well now, but we just didn’t have time last year to book parties, corporate events and boost the barefoot bowls to build up a nest egg to get us through the slow months from January to April," he said.

"But clubs like this are part of the cultural fabric of local communities and play an important role in supporting older people to stay physically and socially active.

“We help keep the whole community better connected." On Tuesday the campaign had raised $15,700.

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