McIlwraith Croquet Club Centenary Celebrations
Representing the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor for Paddington Ward, Councillor Clare Jenkinson; President of the McIlwraith (pron. Mack-il-rayth) Croquet Club, Ms Ruth Matchett and Chair of the Centenary Committee, Mr Bob Elliott; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people here today.
I am delighted to be here at the McIlwraith Croquet Club for your Centenary Day, and I congratulate everyone involved in planning today’s marvellous event.
A celebration like this takes commitment, imagination and many, many hours of voluntary effort – and it’s clear that these qualities have characterised this enterprising club from the very beginning.
In December 1923, less than three months after the club was established, a deputation of members, led by Alice Maxwell, attended a meeting of the Toowong City Council to present their case for a longer lease than the 10 years initially granted. They left that meeting with a 21-year lease!
That same determination and entrepreneurial spirit has been on display here through the recovery from repeated inundations since 1931, and in the decision to make the grounds and club house available for hire for activities ranging from breakfast barbecues to baby showers and, of course, parties with an “Alice in Wonderland” theme to exploit the link to the most famous croquet match of all time.
Coincidentally, Lewis Carrol published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 – the same year that Brisbane’s very first croquet ground was established in the Botanic Gardens.
It’s now almost 160 years since the women in the first Brisbane club played croquet in their so-called “lawn dresses”, unencumbered by trains and crinolines. This was an early indication that croquet, one day, would no longer be seen as a genteel, frivolous pastime, but as a legitimate sport with real health benefits.
This is particularly pleasing to me because, when I was sworn in as Governor almost two years ago, one of the priorities I identified as a focus for my term was to encourage a healthy and active Queensland.
I am very pleased to see that this is a focus shared by the McIlwraith Croquet Club and I am confident that Lady Harriette McIlwraith would also be proud to see that the land she donated is helping to keep Queenslanders healthy – even without live flamingos for mallets or hedgehogs for balls!
I look forward to shortly presenting the Centenary Cup to the inaugural winners and wish you all a very Happy Centenary Day! Thank you.