Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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The Best Grass in Town

The Best Grass in Town
Nimbin Bowlo- Rebels with a Cause

There’s something out in left field about Nimbin Bowls Club.
For starters visitors are welcomed an artist commissioned 3D mural prominently plastered across the front of the club rooms.

Then there’s the 3 flags flying from the mast, The Eureka Flag, a Skull & Dagger pirate’s flag and one sporting a Pink Elephant.

There’s a palpable feeling of – ‘We do it differently in Nimbin’.

And the back of the club’s business card cheekily reads,
‘Bowl on the Best Grass in Town’.

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During my time in town I regularly played the Sunday morning Rock and Roll Bowls social game. These games occasionally saw a bus load of tourist bowlers driving down from the Gold Coast for a day out on the green. There was a palpable vibe as the sounds of classic rock and country tunes created a party atmosphere before roll up. Some of the visitors displayed signs akin to groups of school kids about to wag school.

‘ We don’t do this at Tweed Heads’.

The tales of Nimbin bowlers puffing away on joints in between ends are folklore in bowls circles around these parts.

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It’s fair to say that Nimbin go about their bowls somewhat differently from the average Gold Coast club. During a Sunday morning game one of the Nimbin skips walked across 3 rinks to offer me a joint-to which I kindly declined,
“No thanks, I don’t substance abuse when I’m bowling.”, but a couple of blokes on my rink partook.

My skip suggested , “You’re taking your bowls far too seriously.”

It may have been a little dig implying it would probably have helped my game if I took a couple of puffs.

I was informed that smoking dope is confined to the opposite side of the green, [ away from the club rooms] in case the local constabulary decides to do a ‘drive’.

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Kombi Karl is the greens keeper- resident gardener. His tarpaulin covered Kombi camper van is a permanent fixture on site. (I got the impression it doesn’t get out much.)

He sows seeds and gives away pots of herbs and vegetable seedlings to members and visitors alike- another nice Nimbin touch. His text book delivery is a joy to watch.

Yes these Sunday morning Rock n Roll Bowls social games attract a motley crew of participants. The format usually pits locals against visiting teams and measuring for shots is discouraged and generally frowned upon. There’s a palpable vibe of let’s have a good time. Uniforms aside, Nimbin locals tend to stand out like the proverbials.

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Graham’s one of the club’s rare sober-teetotal members and he takes more grass than the average member using an old set of Super Grips he’s used since taking up bowls in the UK in the early 1970s.

He told me how he confounded the club’s president when he first joined.

President, “You don’t drink, you don’t smoke dope, what the fuck are doing here?”

Graham, “This is a bowls club, isn’t it…….. I’m here for the bowling.”

He stumbled across the area looking for a property which ticked the boxes, oblivious to Nimbin’s history and reputation. Just before signing contracts he asked the estate agent. “What do people do around these parts. In other words, how does the local economy tick along?”

The estate agent’s dead pan response was, “The locals sell marijuana to tourists.”

It didn’t stop him from buying the property and subsequently joining the bowls club…

Yes, the Nimbin Bowlo is a Special little bowls club with it‘s endearing quirky paradoxes.

I’ve lost count how many times news broadcasters have used footage of Seniors bowling on the green when they’re covering news items relating to pension cuts, the plight of the elderly or retiree superannuation woes.

Well the ABC would be out at sea – pushing shit uphill trying to film at the Nimbin Bowlo, looking for footage for those ‘stereo typical’ seniors.

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This club is proactive in trying to engage with the local community and it’s inclusive policy of welcoming social members appears to be paying dividends.

The annual social membership fee is a token $5. It’s a way of saying ‘come on, give this a go’. And the colourful cast of characters bowling on their green is testament to these initiatives working. They’ve capitalized on their unique demographic and in turn chased the tourist bowler market.

A segment willing to travel to experience bowling in an environment light years from the norm, at so called ‘conventional clubs’.

I gathered that the club’s recruitment initiatives have paved the way for countless lost blokes taking up bowls. While country town sports clubs tend to be the backbone of local communities….. Nimbin isn’t your average country town. So providing an avenue for social activities takes on a central-pivotal role….and the camaraderie on the green is terrific.

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They won their last pennant flag in 2005 with a motley crew of dairy farmers, odd balls and hippies…It also happened to be the year I last payed them a visit.

Let’s hope this augurs well for some ‘silver ware’ in 2014-2015.

An omen for another flag !

The Nimbin Good Times covers the local news scene in a fashion befitting Nimbin‘s unique community. Zuela, one of the contributors calls herself a ‘Polarity Energy Balancer who can facilitate a process of releasing blockages to the free flow of energy.’ Now I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t got the foggiest what that means, I’m an ignoramus when it comes to the esoteric world of Chakras….

However Kombi Karl’s ‘free flow’ delivery is something I can appreciate.

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If you find yourself around these parts pop in and have a roll on the best grass in town.

And tell them that ‘that smart arse wog from Melbourne’ sent you !

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John Ryan- on the left, quasi Pirate President keeps the ship on course-steering it through the precarious waters of keeping bowls clubs viable and relevant in rural communities

Fabrizio Marsani

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