The weather in Brisbane is absolutely stunning at the moment and it makes me want to spend every possible moment outside, especially as it is the perfect temperature for sports and activities. While out walking the other day I saw people playing croquet at the McIlwraith Croquet Club in Auchenflower and it reminded me that this is the perfect time of year for active yet relaxed games like croquet.
While it conjures up images of the mad Queen from Alice in Wonderland playing croquet with flamingos and curled up hedgehogs or very genteel English garden parties, it is actually a very enjoyable game of skill that has been played since the Middle Ages. It was apparently quite popular in Australia in the late nineteenth century until it was overshadowed by that other newfangled game of lawn tennis. Like lawn bowls it is no longer seen as just an old fashioned game for older people and is experiencing a bit of a resurgence. While at university I did a ten week course that taught the basics and more recently I played a round at McIlwraith Croquet Club as part of their Come 'n' Try series. An experienced croquet player showed us around the course, explained the game and gave us some tips. It is a great game to play socially as you can chat and have a laugh as you realise it's not as easy as it looks.
The club's picturesque setting
The McIlwraith Croquet Club has four beautifully maintained lawns and has several playing days a week. The Club is very welcoming and encourages people to come and try the sport and provides coaching to new members. It is also a beautiful setting with lots of history behind it. The Club was established in 1923 with land from the original Auchenflower estate donated by the widow of one of Queensland's premiers, Sir Thomas McIlwraith. The site flooded in 1974 and 2011 but has now been fully restored with the help of the Brisbane City Council.
If you really get the croquet bug you can apply to join the club for an annual membership fee. Another great idea is to hire out the venue for a function with a difference. I have walked past many times as parties have been in full swing and it looks like a great place to accommodate family members of all ages. Sometimes people get into the spirit and dress as if for an English croquet party. The Club can cater for up to 80 people and provides a range of amenities as well as volunteers to show your guests the finer points of croquet. If it's a Christmas Party you are planning you might want to get in early and book now.
Located at the corner of Auchenflower and Dixon Terraces, Auchenflower
The Croquet Club can be contacted on 3870 3771 or through its website.