About Us

History of Local Golf

The first recorded game of golf in Wilcannia came from the Sydney Mail newspaper in September 1905. The ‘course’ consisted of nine holes and the first tee was on the ‘western’ bank of the Darling River, and the first drive had to clear the river and land on the opposite higher bank, a carry of at least 80 yards in the old measure.

The next record is the opening of the Club and Course, where Victory Caravan Park now stands, by the Mayor Mr E. Baker, on 4th October 1924. This is close to the original 1905 course. The opening was followed by an 18 hole Stroke Handicap. The towns renown golfer S J O’Rourke (Postmaster) forfeited after the first round, giving Mr V Smith (former secretary at the hospital) the honour of winning the Australian Bank of Commerce Bank trophy.

Photograph: Wilcannia Golf in 1905 on the bank of the Darling River.

Photograph 2: Wilcannia Golf in 1905 on the bank of the Darling River.

Results were regularly reported in the local paper, the Western Grazier until the mid 1930’s. The last report found was for the Broken Hill Club v Aerodrome Wilcannia series of matches in August 1934. The name of the Wilcannia team may have been devolved from the site of the original airport in Wilcannia, which was around the area where the Mission now stands and close to the Victory Caravan Park area. Rounds played included four-ball best ball, stroke handicap, concurrent handicap and best off the stick.

The game lapsed, or at least no records survived, if any events were held during the 1940’s and 50’s. On the 30th of January 1960 a meeting was held at the CWA rooms to establish a new Golf Club. As there were not enough present to form a committee a second meeting was called. On the 14th February a meeting at the Queens Head established the current Wilcannia Golf Club. Allan Wells was elected President at the first General Meeting in May and Associates (ladies) formed their own committee in August to run their own competition. Members were prohibited from buying golf balls from children on the course.

After looking at a number of sites, including on the Cobar Road side of the river, the preferred site, known as the aerodrome site, (the airstrip had been shifted to its current location by then) became the Clubs first home. This is in the area now known as The Mallee.

The Clubhouse was erected in early 1961 at a cost of £586, doors and windows were extra. In September that year the Club was granted the Western Lands Lease of the 80 acre site at a cost of £5 per year, with £30 for the initial survey. The Club was insured for £1,400 and a liquor licence applied for in October when the Club had an overdraft of £3. A cigarette license was received in 1964 and the first, secret, vote on purchasing a Poker Machine was lost.

​The area next to the Club was developed as a 6-rink bowls green and a croquet lawn by the Wilcannia Bowls Club. The site was unofficially opened on the 1st January 1930 when Mrs Downs (of the store Knox and Downs) sent down the first jack and Mrs James McClure, wife of the president, send down the first bowl. The first game under lights was played in 1935. The Club went into decline after the World War Two. At various times since the Golf Club took over the site there have been a number of casual bowls events.”

​Photograph 3: Hanlon Bowls next to old Resches Brewery 1926 -1930

Hanlon Bowls next to old Resches brewery 1926-1930.jpg

In 1966 a concrete cricket pitch (still there) was laid down between the 5th and 9th fairways. A motion to buy a poker machine on the 16th July 1967 was carried 19 -3 with President Tom Lane resigning after the vote.

​While the minutes from 1968 – 1987 are missing, some of the events are known. The Club applied for the current golf course lease and to transfer the Liquor License to the new premises in November 1969. The current premises were occupied in 1970 with Peter Buck as caretaker/steward.

​In 1976 the Club was extended and the old club house moved from its original site, to become what is now the dining room.

​Photograph 4: Hanlon Mens Bowls, Brewery in background.

Hanlon Mens Bowls brewery in background_edited_edited.jpg

The minutes from 1987 show a different era. In 1988 Club staff had to be prohibited from playing the Pokies while on duty and from smoking behind the bar, though they could have a puff while collecting glasses. The club offered the Department of Main Roads $21,950 for the house opposite the Club to provide accommodation for the Secretary Manager. A loan of $20,000 (A bit over $46,000 in todays dollars) was taken out. The Club uniform was to be Burgundy jacket and tie. In 1989 local Segreant Ron Steer attended the Board meeting, concerned about the fights on Friday nights. This concern continued through 1990, with Ron telling the Club in April that year they had to lift their game.

​Photograph 5: Hanlon Mens Bowls, Wilcannia

Hanlon Mens Bowls wilcannia.jpg

Regular Golf matches were held by both men and women. The local paper of the 1980’s the Paddlewheel carried regular, detailed reports of games and events at the Club.

In recent years, as the population of the town and supply of volunteers went down, regular competitions have been difficult to organise. Locals still go out for a hit and the fairways are maintained.

Photograph 6: Wilcannia Croquet & Bowling Green in a dust storm, 1930.

Wilcannia Croquet Lawn.jpg



Golfers will be interested in the evidence of the spread of their favourite game in the far west which two views that accompany this afford. Besides the play on the Wilcannia course proper golf is also played at Tibooburra, and on some of the stations around Wilcannia links have been formed. At present the Wilcannia course consists of nine holes. The first tee is on the western bank of the Darling River, the opposite bank being about 40ft higher, so that to clear the latter the drive must have a carry of at least 80 yards. To the beginner, hypnotised as so many golfers are by a water hazard close at hand, this carry is awesome. The other picture shows an excellent sand bunker, always ready for the foozler, on the way to the seventh hole. The bunker is situated 60 yards from the tee, and spreads about 50 yards towards the hole. Its surface is varied by certain small elevations, which the old residents declare form the graves of aboriginals long since passed away. As may be supposed, there are many curious onlookers in the far west who marvel at what they term the 'idiotic' enthusiasm of the golfer. To them a sandhill will always remain a sandhill, and they cannot understand why it should be treasured as a 'bunker.-' Judging from the way it is being taken up there is a good future for golf in the Wilcannia district.

Resch Brewery possibly one of the Greens and Joe Lawson.jpg


Photo of Brewery – just after Club established in early 1970’s. (NFP- if you look you can see the Golf Club sign on the front brickwork)

Photograph 1 & 2, Wilcannia Golf in 1905 on the bank of the Darling River - from Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, Wednesday 13 September 1905.

Photograph 3, 4 & 5: Hanlon Bowls next to old Resches Brewery 1926-1930 - came from the Hanlon Collection donated to the Wilcannia & District Historical Society by Mr Hanlon’s daughter, Mrs. Patricia Kennedy. The photos were taken when Mr Geoffrey Hanlon was stationed in Wilcannia as the Stock Inspector. Patricia was born here in Wilcannia in 1928.

Photograph 6: the wife of Dr. Thompson on the Wilcannia Croquet & Bowling Green during a dust storm, 1930.

Photograph 7: Resch Brewery, possibly one of the Green Brothers and Joe Lawson – origin unknown.