The McIlwraith Croquet Club at Auchenflower is a charming well-preserved relic from the 1920s that is enjoying a renaissance as more people discover the joys of old-fashioned lawn games.
The club, established in 1923, has an interesting history. The land was bequeathed to the Town of Toowong by Lady McIlwraith (wife of Sir Thomas McIlwraith, then Premier of Queensland). It was donated for “recreational purposes” only. The origin of the clubhouse is unclear, as club records were destroyed in the 1974 flood when all but the clubhouse roof was submerged. It has recently been learnt, however, that this was a "Women Only" Club until 1946, when males were allowed to join. In the 2011 floods the water rose to just over halfway up the front door on the top level.
After the floods, the clubhouse was completely renovated with support from the community and government. As a result, the club now has first class facilities for its members and visiting croquet players, who are always welcome. Upstairs, the members have a lovely spot for their morning and afternoon teas, with trophies and memorabilia on display.
Croquet is a game for people of all ages and levels of ability and is a very reasonably priced sport to play. At McIlwraith an annual membership costs $340* which includes green fees. Providing players have flat soled shoes and a hat, there's little else needed. Loan mallets are available from the club to start with, commercial mallets can be purchased for approximately $100 or players who are handy can make their own. For those who think they'd like to sample the game, the club offers free "come and try" sessions where members of the club explain the rules and guide first-timers through the game.
There is another side to this centrally located club - it is also available to hire as a function venue. Bookings are heavy as this is a very popular choice for many gatherings: birthdays, hen's and buck's events, baby showers, corporate team building, end of year celebrations, social gatherings etc. Whilst the club does not have a licence to serve alcohol, guests are welcome to BYO. To make your event even more successful, club members run croquet games at these functions and help new players get a grasp of this fun sport. Whilst the club provides marquees, tables, chairs, and a kitchenette (including a full size fridge), function organisers are asked to provide disposable cutlery and crockery. For another $5 a BBQ is available to hire.
For general enquiries please call the clubhouse on 3870 3771. For come and try sessions or function bookings please call Functions Co-ordinator, Sandy Ridgway on 3511 7954 or 0417 636 433.
by Sandy Ludinski