Joe bowled over by Gayndah
WHEN Joe Lord decided it was time to leave his home of Maryborough he knew Gayndah was the place he wanted to be. And he has never regretted that decision.
"I've been here for about two and a half to three years now,” Lord said.
"I was at Maryborough for a long time and played for the Maryborough Services Club but my brother had to move and I was living with him at the time.
"I had played out here in the past and I really came to enjoy Gayndah and I still do, so I decided this was the place to go and I have zero regrets about that.”
Lord credited the atmosphere and welcoming nature of the Gayndah Bowls Club as the catalyst for his move and now that he is part of the club has had first hand experience with its success.
"Before coming out here I knew about the juniors and their success,” Lord said.
"I played here in competition games before and got to see that first- hand, playing in fours tournaments, pairs and triples and so on.”
Lord is in a position to know just how the country juniors compare.
"I think the youngsters stack up really well here compared to the bigger places, probably better actually,” Lord said.
"Maryborough wasn't really conducive for youngsters, when I was at the services I tried to get the high school involved and they weren't interested.
"I think country kids like to get out and about more and get involved, that's why I think they play so well.”
Wyatt Martin, one of the Gayndah Bowls Club's junior players, agreed that the club was welcoming and encouraging of the junior players.
"I have got to play him (Lord) a couple of times and it's good for experience,” Wyatt said.
"And in those singles games I only lost by two or three points.
"It's just so much fun for me and I love being able to keep learning.”
Wyatt has had a chance to get to know Lord in recent years.
"I really like Joe, he is my friend and he gives me tips on how to play,” Wyatt said.
"Sometimes the other players give me experience when I play against them because they are older and harder to play so I learn from that.”
It is that community drive and club atmosphere that Lord had hoped to find in Gayndah and now that he has he feels like it has become home.
"One of the first things I did when I relocated to Gayndah was join the bowls club, lawn bowls is the only sport I play now,” Lord said.
"It's a great club, I found there was more friendliness and companionship in these small regional centres, more so than the bigger places.
"That made it much easier to settle into the town, the comradeship, the team atmosphere, it's all good for me.”
Lord first took up bowls in the late 1960s and at 76 has loved every decade of bowls since then.
"The country bowls scene is great, playing these Sunday social games is beautiful and relaxing, it's a nice way to finish off the week,” Lord said.
"We also get to travel around to all the other country clubs, places in the South like Nanango and Goomeri for instance, you name it.
"I think that adds to the country lifestyle, I'm getting a bit long in the tooth these days so I need to be able to get out and keep doing something.
Lord said it was the people that make a club and the people in Gayndah are both welcoming and kind which made his transition easier.
Gayndah Bowls Club Ladies president Helen Walker has seen new members join the club over the past couple of decades for much the same reason that Lord did.
"We've had a number of people come through just to have a look, we may have met them socially somewhere else and have invited them down,” Walker said.
"There was a couple once who came through in a caravan and stopped at the club for a meal, they returned a few times and ended up staying in Gayndah.
"It's a great social point in my book, a lot just come to see who is there and what is one.”
Walker also credits the club atmosphere as a big selling point.
"It seems to me that the bowls club is a lot more about being social, everyone there knows each other by their first name and it is very relaxed,” Walker said.
"It's just such a friendly place that if a stranger comes into the club they are welcomed and will be introduced to other players.
"They might finish up the day having a few social drinks and perhaps come back the next day, it really is marvellous to see. To me bowls is a social hub in Gayndah that attracts visitors.”
Walker remembers being new to Gayndah and how the club helped her to feel welcome and begin to call the place home.
"The club does seem to attract visitors, from the first day I stood in the club I was made to feel welcome,” Walker said.
"Coming to a strange town and not knowing anyone can be a difficult thing and the members were marvellous to me.”
Being a friendly club is what makes it great, Walker said.
"It improves and it enhances the club as a whole,” she said.