East Brisbane Croquet Club, 19 Park Avenue

The early 1900s were a busy time for the establishment of sporting clubs in Mowbray Park, East Brisbane, one of the most picturesque locations in Brisbane. First up was the East Brisbane Bowling Club, which was officially opened on 23 September 1905, followed by a croquet club and a tennis club.

The East Brisbane Croquet Club was established in 1905 when a small group of ladies met at the East Brisbane Bowling Club pavillion to discuss formation of a croquet club. Their application for a lease of land adjoining the bowling green was granted in November the same year. An application by the newly-formed tennis club for land further down towards the river was also successful.

In September 1906 construction of a croquet court, tennis court (and cricket pitch began). Various fundraising events helped to establish the croquet club as a popular social club for ladies, many of whom were well-off, they played in full formal dress and hat. In 1929 the club applied for a second green and a third court was completed 1942-1944.

A rare photo of the early days at the croquet club.

The ladies took their croquet seriously and were one of the first Brisbane clubs to take part in pennants competitions. The club celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1955 and centenary in 2005.

News item of 1931 describing the growth of the club and opening of a new green.

As with most clubs, membership fluctuated over the years and there were many changes, such as accepting male members, and challenges. Play ceased during the war years and it is assumed that the club helped raise money for the Red Cross.

At the time the club was founded on 1 November 1905 women were expected to be homemakers and few were able to take up paid positions until WW1. Marriage meant that working women had to stop work, this did not change until the late 1960s, and it was not until 1966 when married women could hold permanent positions in the public service.

Club President Doug Williams, president for 20 years.

It is not surprising then that the EBCC was a ladies-only club until the 1970s when men first joined, initially enabling couples to play together. The first male vice president was elected in 1985 and the first male president, Doug Williams, in 1999. He is still the current president in 2019.


Membership has always a major issue, with gradually decreasing numbers (in 1962 membership was only 26) and again in the 1980s and 1990s. This required members to come up with more creative ways of fundraising and promotional events to encourage new members. For a while golf croquet events, bridge and mahjongg clubs based at the club helped, but finances continued to be a struggle.

Social croquet in action.

When the club became incorporated on 13 April 1991 it had only 27 financial members. Intensive club promotion continued. In 1992 a prominent CROQUET sign was erected on the fence adjacent to the ferry carpark.

Incorporation also gave access to a variety of grants which helped the club to improve and update its facilities, e.g. watering system, storage shed, spectator facilities, clubhouse etc.

It is the club’s strong focus on friendship, collegiality and support which helped keep it functioning despite these constant challenges. As well as dealing with ever-increasing costs for court maintenance, greenkeeper wages, fertilisers and other expenses they had to cope with several cases of vandalism and break-ins. Despite all valiant efforts by members, numbers continued to drop and by 2001 there were only 8 active members. New strategies such as hiring out the facilities (introduced in 2004) and hosting croquet titles have helped keep the club going. Current membership in 2019 is 18 and new members are always welcome. Social croquet days are also available for non-members.

Social croquet.


However, it is the passion, dedication, hard work and tenacity of many members which has enabled the club to continue to exist for 114 years. Hopefully it will continue for many years to come, it deserves the support of local communities and authorities.
(Source: Trove / Rechner, Judy Gale: East Brisbane Croquet Club, 100 years).