Bulli Woonona Sports Club

Police raids, seized pokies and SP bookie arrests By MICK ROBERTS © UNREGISTERED sporting clubs were scattered throughout the Illawarra last century; places where working class men gathered to socialise over a game of billiards or snooker, table games such as cards and dice, and to have a flutter on the pokies. The clubs, although…

Illawarra’s first clubs

By MICK ROBERTS ©  REGISTERED clubs, with their assortment of restaurants, bars and cafes, gymnasiums, and ‘mini-casinos’, have come along way from the timber cottages, offering dominoes and newspaper and magazine libraries, that began to appear throughout colonial New South Wales during the 1890s. Prior to this, membership of early colonial clubs was confined to…

The wild men of 22 Mile Camp

By MICK ROBERTS © AMERICA’S Wild West could be considered tame compared to the wilderness separating Sydney from Illawarra’s far northern coal mining villages during the mid to late 1880s. Notorious shantytowns sprang up in the bushland to service the men who built the Illawarra Railway and they were no place for the faint hearted. The navvies…

Turf problems delayed roll-up

By MICK ROBERTS © ALTHOUGH the formation year is recognised as 1905, Corrimal Bowling Club’s first inter-club game wasn’t played for another two years due to problems finding suitable turf. An extract from the NSW Bowlers Annual 1906 reported the Corrimal Bowling and Tennis Club was formed in September 1905, “but owing to some preliminary…

Rain, rain go away… Bulli Show

By MICK ROBERTS. ALTHOUGH Bulli Show Society president Les Strachan didn’t mind a thunderstorm dumping rain on the inaugural Bulli Show he may have had a differing view if he knew it was to set precedence for half a century. His society had wisely invested in rain insurance for that first 1953 show boosting the…

The Bulli Rifle Range

By MICK ROBERTS© STRADDLING the banks of Slacky Creek, fronting ‘Sharkey Beach’ between Sandon and Waniora Points, the Bulli Rifle Range operated for over 70 years. Not long after the first mention of the range during December 1886, when the Bulli Rifle Club invited Wollongong marksmen to a shooting competition at its paddock, were concerns…

A working man’s club

By MICK ROBERTS © ALTHOUGH Helensburgh Tradies Club began operating on shaky grounds, and has relocated to a new site, it has survived to become the Illawarra’s oldest operating registered club. Born from a dispute with the town’s two publicans over beer prices, the Helensburgh and Lilyvale Workmen’s Club was established by a group of…

Deegans’ shop

By MICK ROBERTS © AFTER managing a coal miners’ pub during World War II, Phyllis Deegan would have thought running a small mixed business a piece of cake. The 37 year-old mother of two teenagers probably looked with relief at mixing milkshakes instead of pulling beers. Pubs, especially the rough and tumble of a miners’…

Thirroul bowlo

By MICK ROBERTS © THIRROUL Bowling Club is the last of three registered clubs that once traded in the seaside suburb. For over 80 years Thirroul lawn bowlers have enjoyed a few beers and each other’s company after and during a roll-up at their Gibson Park site. The Station Street property has supported four different…