Live music, raffles, the courtesy bus, bare feet on the green, Keno on the TVs, a bistro, sunscreen at the ready and carpet as far as the eye can see—there’s something distinctly enjoyable about spending an arvo at the bowlo. It’s like every club in NSW agreed to roughly stick to the same formula, with a few added tweaks, and we all agreed to never get sick of it.
For some, it’s a little easier to stand out from the pack with the cool coastal breeze rolling in and picturesque beaches within view. It might be an unfair advantage, but the NSW coast is brimming with some of our favourite bowling clubs. From way down south, through Sydney and as far north as our state goes—there’s a coastal bowlo worth dropping into on your next backyard road trip.
Whether you’re five years old, 25 years old or 85 years old—you’ll find something to do when you check out one of these epic bowling clubs on the NSW coast.
Cherry Street Sports Club
Heading up to Byron or on your way to the Sunshine State? We’ve got somewhere up north worth dropping into. Cherry Street Sports Club, home to the Ballina Bowling Club, sits on the Northern NSW rivers in the charming town of Ballina. With a few lush bowling greens, a big playground for the little ones, a giant undercover outdoor deck with big screens for watching sport, and a long list of wines, cocktails, and beers, the Ballina local does a bit of everything. It also takes known staples to the next level, with croquet on the greens, a daily happy hour, and a twice-weekly mega raffle with over $700 of local produce to be won.
Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club
How good is a club where you do a little barefoot bowls, then keep your shoes off and walk in the sand just a few metres away? Well, if you keep heading north and find the Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club, that’s precisely what’s on offer.
Just shy of the NSW and QLD border, this bowlo backs directly onto the gorgeous Kingscliff beach—giving you the perfect two-for-one deal. Sporting three large greens, good times at Kingscliff bowlo peak every Friday and Saturday evening from 5pm with the beachside sunset, barefoot bowls, live music, cocktails for the adults, and activities for the kids. Looking for a picturesque wedding spot in the North Coast Hinterland? Well, you might have just found it.
Club North Haven
Located 30-minutes south of Port Macquarie, Club North Haven sits about a kilometre from North Haven Beach but is somehow still blessed with waterfront views. Lucky locals can whip off their boots for a game or sit down for a cold schooner overlooking the Camden Haven Inlet, which feeds into the Pacific Ocean.
After a multi-million dollar renovation in 2017, the North Haven bowlo looks better than ever for locals and travellers alike. Pop into Seagulls Restaurant for a taste of local seafood or plan your visit around the October Riverview Carnival, which has been running for more than 60 years for bowlers around Australia.
Clovelly Bowling Club
You didn’t seriously expect us to not give a shoutout to at least a couple of local Sydney bowling clubs, did you? Sitting on the NSW coast, right in the centre of Sydney’s magnificent Eastern Suburbs, resides Clovelly Bowling Club. You’ve probably strolled past it while doing the famed Bondi to Coogee walk, thinking it looked like a prime spot for a day of bowls and beers—and you’re not wrong.
Sporting one of the most picturesque views in the state, Clovelly bowlo sits up high on the cliffside overlooking the waters between Clovelly beach and Bronte beach. Birthdays, family lunches, arvo bowls, sunset beers—no travelling for this one; it’s in our backyard.
Bowlo Sports & Leisure Yamba
If you haven’t already spent time in Yamba, on NSW’s North Coast, book it in for your next holiday immediately because the less visited, more chill version of Byron Bay won’t remain a secret for much longer.
Famous for prawns, the cliffside Pacific Hotel, and a bacon and egg roll to die for served up on the main beach by The Kiosk Café, Yamba is one of Australia’s best beach towns. At the heart of it sits the Bowlo Sports & Leisure Yamba, which alongside the usual bowling greens and sports bar areas, are a few extra unique features. Head in with your mates, your partner or your kids for the club’s 18-hole mini-golf course, 4-lane bowling alley, or even its indoor bouldering wall. There’s plenty of drinking areas to choose from, but our favourite has to be the Boardwalk Bar, with a more refined collection of cocktails, wines, share plates, and pizzas.
Club Sapphire Merimbula
Before we get into this recommendation, can we all agree that Club Sapphire Merimbula has the coolest name on this list? But we might as well give you the lowdown on all the other reasons you should drop by. Located on the Sapphire Coast and representing Southern NSW, the Merimbula club boasts another unique waterfront location, sitting near (the unfortunately named) Boggy Creek. Moreover, the bowlo offers some of the state’s largest greens, both out under the sun or under state-of-the-art, gigantic, weather-proof coverings. Depending on how casual or fancy you feel like eating, you can choose between The Shack kiosk-style café, the Rockpool Café or the Pacific Bistro.
The Greens North Sydney
Okay, one more Sydney inclusion. If you’re all in on the amazing coastal views we’ve been proposing in this piece, then how about a view of Sydney’s world-famous harbour. Just north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and yet still somehow unknown to many living below it, The Greens belongs on any list discussing NSW coastal bowlos. We’ll happily recommend the North Sydney local only for its outstanding restaurant menu and its extensive cocktail list, including plenty of jugs to share between friends. But if you are looking to free up your toes and have a bowl, there’s plenty of space for that, too, alongside the club’s outdoor area where you can soak up the Sydney sun all day long.
Ocean Shores Country Club
We know we’re giving you a few far North Coast options, but there must be something in the air up there that breeds ridiculously good spots for bowling clubs. Located just north of Brunswick Heads, you can add Ocean Shores Country Club to your road trip as well. From the aptly named Horizons Bistro and its elevated deck, you can gaze out over both Marshalls Creek and the ocean views right behind it. Alongside the usual barefoot bowling greens, you can also cool off in the club’s pools or round up a few mates to play 18-holes of golf right in between the ocean and the Koonyum mountain ranges.
If you’re still waiting to take that trip up or down the NSW coast, check out some of our favourite places to play barefoot bowl right here in Sydney.
Image credit: Clovelly Bowling Club