Tribal History

  • Turbbul Tribe are the Traditional Owners
  • The name Booroodabin means -Place of She-Oaks

Historical Narrative

1888 was a different time and Queensland was a very different place with the pulse of life being more in tune with our historical ancestry. The forefathers of Booroodabin Bowls Club were not only gentlemen they were genteel, testament to this is the prose of the day. The following extract from The Brisbane Courier has a colour and rhythm now long past.

…It is a cause of much gratification to me, on the eve of my departure from Queensland, to receive so cordial an address from the members of your club, and to recognise in it so sincere an expression of kindly feeling towards myself. I assure you that such feeling is heartily reciprocated, and that my association with the Booroodabin Bowling Club will always be a source of pleasurable reminiscence…

These were some of the words expressed in June 1901 by the departing Governor of Queensland and first Patron of the club, Lord Lamington. In the audience was the former Premier of Queensland (Sir Thomas McIlwraith) whom as President of the Brisbane Bowls Club had been a driving force in the creation of the new club. In the closing years of the 19th Century and into the early years of the 20th, Booroodabin had a membership replete with politicians and businessmen who were known to use their time on the greens to forge more than just friendly rivalry. Many of their decisions of policy and commerce have woven the very fabric that is today’s Brisbane.

Just as Queensland moved from Colony to State and the district surrounding the institution that was the Booroodabin moved from timber homes to commercial activity only to return to avenues of apartments in the 21st century; so too has the face of Booroodabin – now called the Booroodabin Community & Recreation Club Inc. Once in an earlier time it was a lawn bowls club that welcomed Governors, Premiers and the captains of industry.

In the 21st century, with its welcoming family environment, it is a place of barefoot bowls, great food and a growing display from its profound historic legacy since 1888 …trophies, records, photographs and Honour Boards.

‘The Boo’ (as she is more affectionately known) has had to forsake much of what was once at the core of a traditional lawn bowls club. There is some sadness at the passing of the years and with them the slowing down of a very proud game; there is, however, no sadness at the fading memories of the ‘topless years’ when topless ladies served at the bar 3 days per week. Testament to what desperate clubs will do to survive. The current membership, merely caretakers of the club, has embraced a new model of broader community engagement to ensure the club survives.

There is no question that in 1888 Sir Thomas McIlwraith and Lord Lamington had any idea what was going to face their beloved club. It is the sum total of all the small and large decisions that defines who we are today and the old girl has survived the past so she can now look forward to the future.

You are welcomed as a part of that future.

Click here for the Courier article of Booroodabin’s grand opening Saturday March 30th 1889.

Booroodabin Bowls Club - 1899
Booroodabin Bowls Club – 1899
The Booroodabin Bowls Club – established 1888 is Queensland’s oldest bowls club and part of Brisbane’s formative history.

Lord Lamington

Lord Lamington was the founding patron of the Booroodabin Bowling Club and went on to become Queensland Governor from 1896-1901. His name attaches to such Queensland state treasures as the Lamington National Park and Lamington Plateau. After serving as Governor of Queensland he took up the post of Governor of Bombay and later served meritoriously in the 1914 – 1918 war.

Lady and Lord Lamington are seated, second and third from the left
Lady and Lord Lamington are seated, second and third from the left

Sir Thomas MacIlwraith
Sir Thomas MacIlwraith, Who was President of Brisbane Bowls Club in the City was a major supporter of the creation of the Booroodabin site. He was the Premier of Queensland at the time, (1879-83, 1888 and 1893).

The original Honour Board which still hangs proudly in one of the oldest sections of the club lists Sir Thomas above a long line of distinguished Queensland family names. Many of them are synonymous with businesses that flourished in the more genteel atmosphere of the then emerging Brisbane and gave foundation to the world class city which it is today.

circa 1940
circa 1940

The original club house was erected in 1888 on what is Edmondstone Street today. We have no records of the date that the clubhouse was moved to its current location but hints of information suggest about 1912. Various additions have been made with the current façade suggesting completion in the early 50’s. The committee is committed to ensuring that the history of the site is maintained and that answers are found for some of the mysteries of the past 125+ years.
Today the traditional pursuits of the club have been widened to allow the broader community to have access to and use of a piece of Brisbane’s heritage. A more relaxed form of bowls allows anyone to enjoy some outdoor recreation as well as to take advantage of the club’s hospitality. Everyone is welcome to come in and look around.

Honor Board
Honor Board
The Booroodabin Bowls Club hosted some of Australia’s best bowlers and in the early 1990’s a young man by the name of Steve Glasson won the prestigious Booroodabin Masters not once, but twice. The popularity of barefoot bowls now means that all age groups, including families and children are out on the green enjoying the activity and experiencing a taste of yesteryear. Booroodabin is continuing as part of the present while still preserving the history of the Newstead area.