Players return to playing Gateball at McIlwraith Croquet Club, Brisbane

On a very cold Saturday several  club members from McIlwraith Croquet Club returned to play Gateball. Enthusiastic players were setting up for passing gate 1 with their ball. Sparking the balls was also practised. Hopefully many other Clubs can soon return to playing this Gateball games.

Lining up to stroke balls through Gate 1.

Sparking the ball needs practice also.

A good session was enjoyed by Alan, Chris and John.

(Thanks to Frances Wregg for the photos.)

The History of Gateball at Rockhampton Mallet Sports Club, QLD.

Gateball History – Rockhampton Mallet Sports Club Inc.

In late 2002 membership of Rockhampton Croquet Club was dwindling fast and we needed to look further afield to boost numbers and offering gateball as an added game looked attractive, but how?

We held an open day – nineteen attended – eight agreed to come again. The next three Saturdays saw nine, then thirteen, then eleven persons attended.

By December we had new balls and sticks, also gates, poles and score boards made be member Les Feddersen.

In February 2003 Edna Vincent visited with twenty-seven players from all clubs in the region attending her demonstrations. We then applied to Australian Croquet Association for funding assistance for gateball – we received $300.00 to buy equipment for school programs. By this time we had seven new members join the club, and Ethel, Averil, and May were busy making bibs for our seventeen gateball players. We were going great guns!

With much hesitation and trepidation and with Keith McLeod’s encouragement, we agreed to play in the Australian Championships at Caloundra in November 2003. We excitedly decided on a uniform of gold shirt with white slacks/shorts and had to make another set of bibs with up to twenty players on Saturday morning enjoying the game. We still value greatly our “Bravery Award” for competing in this competition. In 2004 our club won the Midas Cup in Caloundra and in 2005 two teams, (Gaters and Gold) competed in the Inaugural State Titles in Ipswich with Gaters winning the trophy with six wins from six games played and Gold winning two. Six players (Steven O’Connor, Norm and Bette Bull, Ethel and Eric Hughes, and Greg Featherstone) competed in the Australia Titles in Mosman, Sydney and our club was buoyed by our success, so much so that we applied to host the State Titles in Rockhampton in August 2006. In May 2005 we won the Inaugural inter-regional Championships at the McIlwraith Club. The team was Margaret Daniel, Margaret and Ron Gall, Ethel and Eric Hughes, and Steven O’Connor.

We were now well equipped and our membership had grown substantially and we often had up to twenty-two members attending. The State Titles saw eleven teams competing, three of them from our club. In 2007 we ventured into playing doubles gateball and this proved popular at our C.Q. Gateball Tournament with a total of seven teams, three of them from Rockhampton plus nine doubles combinations.

In four years we had come a long way and would continue competing in State titles annually. In November 2007 Bette and Norm Bull, John Dargel, Lynne Farry, Ethel and Eric Hughes competed in the Australian Championships at Cairnlea in Melbourne. In 2008 Rockhampton Gold (Margaret Daniel, Lynne Farry, Bette and Norm Bull, Margaret Gall, and Greg Featherstone) won the Ipswich Heritage Cup and in 2009 we were honoured to host the Australian International Gateball Championships. There were many months of organisation led by Ethel Hughes and her teams, Magpies and Herons. Credit must be given to John Hoffman and Vince Hagen for their valuable assistance in preparing for the event and throughout the tournament.

We are always thankful for the support and encouragement we received from other clubs and especially from Keith McLeod, Bruce McAllister, and Edna Vincent without whose initial encouragement we may never have started.

We continue to play locally, competing in competitions whenever possible and are thankful that gateball added another dimension to our club’s activities.

May Feddersen/Ethel Hughes

The leafy surrounds at Rockhampton MSC

The leafy surrounds at Rockhampton MSC

Newest addition to the ClubThe main Club House

Not Deterred By a Virus

Despite the restrictions on playing any non- contact sport or sport of any kind because of the corona virus, two of the most experienced and enthusiastic players have managed to play their favourite game. From McIlwraith Club, these pioneers in Gateball – Beryl and John Holmes- are using their back garden as their Gateball Court. Seen here in the photo, they are having a wonderful time. In July they will celebrate their 90th birthday on different days in the month. Thanks to Frances Wregg for supplying us with the story and the photo.

Beryl wrote the following report back in 2015 and I am publicising it again.


In 2002 the membership of McIlwraith CC was still hovering around 22-23 people. Many other sports clubs in the area were closing. Vines covered almost all the boundary fences, reaching 8 to 10 metres along Auchenflower Terrace – covering the trees to their tops. The clubhouse was barely visible and the club looked dead. MCC members believed that their grounds might be used for a car park. They decided they must “think outside the square” and members began to remove the vines, two fence panels at a time. Slowly the clubhouse and lawns came into view. 

MCC began applying for every grant that was offering [four or more] each year, mostly for “Come and Try” days. Leaflets were distributed by the members, around the vicinity and beyond, mainly by letter box drops. Sometimes the grant allowed for a small notice in the Westside News. Signs [hand painted] were hung on the fences, “Available for Functions”, and people started to come.

The Gateball Grant: Early in 2003, members Bill Reynolds and Beryl Holmes [grants officer] were staffing a stall at the “QUT Open Day” to try to recruit members.  Beryl was preparing a submission this time for “A New Initiative”.  Bill suggested MCC start Gateball, even though they knew nothing about the game. MCC was awarded a grant.  “What is Gateball?” the members asked.

President June Tait knew and contacted Edna Vincent, a member of CAQ who worked at the South Brisbane Head Office. She had been to Japan and seen it played [or had played a game] and was keen to start Gateball in Brisbane. MCC had no money and certainly none to buy new equipment.

Sticks: June organised for 10 wooden sticks to be made and bought 10 hockey balls. Later, Bill believed sticks could be made from aluminium rods and golf stick handles. Beryl’s handyman brother, Ray Clark, constructed 24 sticks. [They are still being used.]

Gates:  Made by a metal firm, in East Brisbane

Court:  Bill made one from white woven tape and another was made from rope.

Score boards:  Jill Whitehouse found two small white boards handed in to the Salvation Army. Different businesses donated small advertising magnets which were painted red and black and used for markers. Later, Bernie Finnigan made three big permanent hanging score boards, again from recycled materials. 

Wristband scorers:  Bill made them; using solid white plastic squares with punched holes along which pink and white bead markers [attached by fishing line] were moved. Elastic held them on.

Play starts: Leaflets were again distributed for a “Come and Try” and Gateball began at MCC with an Open Day in late July 2003. Players were recruited; friends and family came. Later a small group of students from University of Queensland came to play. Within a short time Edna Vincent suggested that they join East Brisbane to form teams to play in the Gateball Australian Championships to be held at the end of October 2003. Such was the enthusiasm of the MCC players that they decide to enter two teams from MCC; the Muttaburrasaurs and the Echnidas. Bill bought a proper set of Gateball balls so that we could correctly judge distances. No, MCC didn’t win but each team did get a “Bravery Award” and a great time was had by all. Best of all, they saw the visiting Asian teams playing. They knew how much they had to improve!  

When MCC’s UQ players graduated, they went to Canberra and started the [very successful] team in the Canberra Club.  MCC had to lend them sticks [flying them by plane] so that their team could play in the Australian Championships in Sydney, in 2005.  MCC also competed; the Blue MAC’s were established.

June Tait records in her Annual report in 2004, that MCC’s membership had doubled to 50 plus.

MCC was by then playing Golf Croquet and Ricochet as well as Assoc. Croquet and Gateball She stated that: “playing a wide range of Mallet Sports is successful for MCC” and that “our variety is our strength”

In 2010 MCC is still the only Brisbane club regularly playing Gateball although Wynnum and Eildon are almost established.

Beryl Holmes    

Nowadays the annual McIlwraith Challenge Competition is held early in the year (except for 2020 because of the Covid 19 virus) as the first of many Club Competitions held around the State for Gateball players.  

Gateball Games in action at McIlwraith

The Clubhouse from a distance as Bernie takes his shot.