The Official Opening of Croquet Club 14 October 1930 – Photographer Alec Collingridg CCC

In 1925 Hostel No. 1 (later the Hotel Canberra, and still later the Hyatt) opened with a bowling green and a croquet lawn as amenities for its guests. The Canberra Croquet Club, established at a meeting held on 8 March 1928, was allowed to play on the lawn at the Hotel.

An early decision of the new club was to ask the Federal Capital Commission to make Wednesdays and Saturdays exclusive days for the club to use the lawns.

There was no clubhouse: a room at the Hotel was converted for use as a locker room. After negotiations the club paid the Federal Capital Commission rent of 18/6 per member per annum, out of the annual subscription of £1.1.0. There were 41 foundation members. People who belonged to other croquet clubs coached the new members. In November 1928 a member offered a trophy of one guinea for the winner of a tournament in which only those who learned to play on the lawn at the Hotel Canberra could compete.

The history of the club reflects the effects of the social changes encompassing the economic depression, World War II and the gradual growth of Canberra from the bush capital to a city of more than 300,000 people.

The clubhouse was opened in 1933, with the club agreeing to pay a maintenance of 5% of the capital outlay. Whilst the club paid the amounts stipulated by the department responsible for administering the Territory altered economic circumstances dictated a radical change in the 1970's.

Men were admitted to membership of the club after the AGM in 1976, and in that year four men joined the club. There is an annual program of competitions, both advanced and handicap events for members. The club championship was last won by a woman in 1981. There are some excellent women players but the men seem to be the stronger at this level at the current time.

The club has, since 1996-97, accepted responsibility for its lawn maintenance and changed its fee structure to meet these costs. Urban Services, a departmental instrumentality, continues to cut the lawns. The clubhouse and grounds, owned by the ACT Government, are leased to the Canberra Croquet Club Inc. The clubhouse and grounds were listed on the Heritage Places Register in December, 1994.

As part of its 50th birthday celebrations in 1978 the club held its first carnival - the Easter Carnival - which continues annually. Nine years later the first Australia Day Carnival was held. Designed as an elite event with players invited from each of the Australian states, this has evolved into the Canberra Open to which players from other states regularly attend and those on handicaps of 8 and under may compete.

Throughout its history members have supported the club wholeheartedly because they love the sport of croquet. The club continues to play on its original site which has been extended to provide for three lawns.

Visitors to Canberra from other croquet clubs are welcome to play.

The club’s history was published in 2000. A History of The Canberra Croquet Club 1928-98 was launched by the then Club’s patron, Senator Margaret Reid.

Copies are available through the club for AUD $7

Heather Clark
Canberra Croquet Club
January 2001
(updated Dec 2008: S Meatheringham)