Established in 1896, the Petersham Bowling & Recreation Club (the PBC) is one of the oldest clubs in NSW, with a rich and interesting history. A few years ago the club was snatched from the jaws of property developers intent on building town houses on the site. Now the PBC is a vibrant, dynamic and creative, poker machine-free community club with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
The PBC survives on the work of dedicated volunteers and staff and the patronage of the local community and visitors from all over the place.
People come because the PBC is a warm and welcoming old club – a bit worn and beaten-up around the edges – but with great food, a family-friendly atmosphere and a growing reputation as a live music venue.
As a multi-purpose facility the PBC offers sport, music, the arts, space for functions, a selection of tasty beers and wines, great food and lots of opportunities for fun while protecting the open green space for the next 116+ years.
Come and be a part of it! Bring your mates for a drink and some barefoot bowls. Bring the kids for a play while you listen to some great music on a Sunday afternoon. Come to a gig and support Sydney’s live music scene. Get involved as a volunteer or just come and enjoy the friendly atmosphere. Everyone is welcome at the PBC!
In October 2006, members of the local community stepped up to the plate and became Directors of the Petersham Bowling Club after the encumbent board resigned.
None of the new board bowled, none had run a licensed premises before, none had changed a keg and few had poured a beer. It was a steep learning curve, but years later we and the club are still here!
Meet the board and management…
George Catsi - President
George is on his second stint as President after heading the community crew that took over the running of the club in 2006. A diverse background that overlaps education, film, theatre and art. Sees club as a great playground for ideas and a place for all types of people to meet each other, with arts as the glue. Often found with a glass of house red in hand he is always good for a chat.
Jason Harty - Treasurer
A producer of many talents including his fine taste for decadent beers. Usually found at the bar on a Friday afternoon, come ask him fiscal advice over a pint.
Eileen Leather - Secretary and Licensee
Eileen first encountered the PBC in 2008, and has been involved in one way or another ever since. Now Board Secretary and Licensee, she is thrilled to have been a member of the Club through its many trials and tribulations. Eileen considers herself honoured to have participated in the PBC’s journey from a struggling pokie-free venue to its current success as the Inner West’s best kept secret. Eileen loves the PBC’s ethos and community focus as a not-for-profit. She’s thrilled that it has set the standard for the reinvention of bowling clubs across Australia.
Dan McCulloch - Vice President
A beer nut and IT expert, Dan started working the bar at The PBC before moving onto the board as a director. Recently left his IT Operation manager role for a Quality Assurance position at Young Henrys Brewery in Newtown.
He enjoys urban gardening, aquaponics and great quality craft beer.
Kath Reynolds - Vice President
Kath has lived around the corner from the Bowlo since 1983. She became a director in 2006, "just for 3 months" but just can't give it up. She works for herself, loves travel and camping, and one of her favourite things is seeing the local community get together at the Bowlo and enjoying the odd glass of wine with them.
Lyndell Sawyer - Board Member
Marketing pioneer and promoter of the bowlo. Lyndell plays a diligent role in keeping us on track and providing community events and good times for our members and their guests
Peter Dixon - Board Member
Our most recent addition to the board and what a cracking one at that. Family man and all time lover of the PBC, Pete is always willing to volunteer his time and resources to those in need.
Christine Williams - Board Member
Loving the community spirit the PBC provides Christine joined the board hoping to bring more people together. Now, we have more members then ever, thanks Christine.
From 1896 to 2004 the Petersham Bowling served its membership well with a focus on bowling. However by 2004 the club had lost most of its membership, due to demographic changes, declining membership and a whole host of factors. This led to a financial spiral downwards.
In 2004 the board put out a proposal to demolish the clubhouse and top green to build 17 town houses and build a new club on the bottom green with a fake bowling green on the roof. The local community, activated by the large development proposal, fought and had it stopped.
Council urged the community and club to work together, however this combination had only minor victories and in 2006 a proposal to build an ABC learning childcare centre on the bottom green - leased for 99 years - was proposed.
Again, this was fought by the local community who had since become members. They were successful in voting down the proposal on the grounds there was no plan for engagement. (Lucky as ABC learning childcare corporation went belly up soon after). So in 2006 after the vote went against the old board they resigned en masse and a new board made up wholly of community members took over the club, vowing to protect the open space. The club building and grounds were in disrepair, it had no paid staff and no viable income - failure was what most predicted.
The community board, all volunteers, none with club experience, rallied the community to save the club. For the first few years no permanent paid staff were able to be employed, volunteers ran the bar and venue.
In 2007 the decision was made to remove the poker machines and make a stand against gambling - the stage now sits where the pokies were. Creative ways of thinking were used to do things differently - kids were allowed on the greens, sustainable practice was built into every operation of the club, arts - film, music and visual arts were incorporated into the fabric. Kids were given a place where they could enjoy live music - watching it and performing it. Most importantly the club was set up so that different people and different groups could meet each other, intersecting at the bar or the greens.
After a very challenging first few years the club is now a vibrant, award winning, musical, fun, club that is a role model to other small clubs. The PBC shows that by using your wits, your talents, providing something special and delivering good service is what a club should survive on - not pokie machines. The club board is run by members from the community for the members and the community. We survive by your contributions, your patronage (and your patience at times).
George Catsi - PBC President (2006-2011, 2015 - current)
Received Community Water Grant of $42,870 (excl. GST) from Federal Government.
Received Energy Grant of $23,450 (excl. GST) from NSW Dept of Environment, Climate Change & Water, Climate Change Fund, under Public Facilities Program.
Received $8,080 from NSW Community Building Partnerships Program to build a pergola.
Received $30,225 from NSW Community Building Partnership Program to upgrade electrical switchboard to improve efficiency and safety.
Received $1,000 from Marrickville Council for two Aerobin Compost Bins.
Received $2,400 from NSW Community Building Partnership Program to install gas hot water system.
Received $2,721.80 under the NSW Energy Efficiency for Small Business Program to upgrade refrigeration.
Won the Highly Commended Award in the Keep Australia Beautiful ClubsNSW Sustainable Clubs Award.
Received Award from Marrickville Council through the target sustainability@marrickville program for achieving ‘20% reduction in WASTE diverted to landfill by June 2008’.
Finalist for ‘Community Partnership Award’ with Marrickville Council’s target sustainability@marrickville program.
Received the Runner Up Award in Keep Australia Beautiful Sustainable Cities ‘Visy’ Waste Minimisation Award.
Received Marrickville Council ‘Carbon Smart Award’ at the annual Environment Awards for Businesses and Organisations program.