Photos to bring back memories – Mount Barker Croquet Club celebrates 100 years of croquet.

History matters. Its stories from the past substitute for the brevity of our lives. 

On the back wall of the Mount Barker Club-House, among other club memorabilia, is  a framed photographic copy of the first Treasurer Reta M Chapman’s “Short History of the Mount Barker Croquet Club”. It was written in 1986, the sesqui-centenary year of the settlement of South Australia in 1836. The print is so small, and the photographs of such poor quality, it is scarcely readable.

Thanks to her we at least know a little of the club origins. Croquet was played in South Australia as early as 1867, in the Barossa Valley. The first Adelaide Club was at North Adelaide. A photograph supplied by Reta Chapman shows croquet being played on a private lawn on her grandparents property Brookbank near Mount Barker. Reta is a babe in her mother’s arms, and her sister Kathleen is held by her father. There were fifteen regular croquet players before the outbreak of World War I, but withdrawal receipts of amounts of about one pound dated 1916- 1919 in a money-box that passed into her possession, confirmed the existence of the fledgling croquet club during the gloom of the war years. The first lawns at the Mount Barker Club were seeded first in 1915, but failed to germinate.

A short history of Mount Barker Croquet Club by Reta Chapman 1986.

A short history of Mount Barker Croquet Club by Reta Chapman 1986.

Croquet at Brookbank in 1911

Brookbank lawn

037 dinner presentation 037

036 dinner presentation    036

Everybody Loves Croquet

Bough of a giant English Elm tree frames the equipment shed and shelter of the Mount Barker croquet club.

Bough of a giant English Elm tree frames the equipment shed and shelter of the Mount Barker croquet club.

Croquet is one of the oldest most traditional games in the world. But did you know that it is also one of the most social games in the world? A century ago, it was a highly social and fashionable pastime and was one of only a handful of games enjoyed by both men and women together. It was not uncommon for male players to deliberately hit their female opponent’s ball off into the bushes where time spent searching for it was an opportunity for some flirting. (Does your club need more bushes?)

Today croquet is enjoying a resurgence in popularity because of its social aspect and its flexibility as a tactical game that challenges the mind yet is not as physically demanding as some other sports. There are a variety of types of croquet to try that can take as little as 40 minutes (golf croquet) or some hours for the more traditional game of association croquet, where it has been compared to snooker on grass.

In South Australia there are 38 croquet clubs with a membership of over 1000 active players who, as well as enjoying the social aspect of the sport, may compete in local, state, national and even international championships. Australia is the largest croquet playing nation in the world with over 8000 players.

Croquet is one of those games that many people haven’t tried, so are drawn to it out of curiosity. They soon discover how enjoyable it is and how it accommodates men and women equally, and can be as competitive or as social as they like.

Members at clubs enjoy passing on their knowledge with budding new players young and old and welcome any interested member of the community to come and try croquet at their club.

Younger players are being drawn to the game by Croquet SA initiatives such as the new Hammer Time program, where the experienced members take great delight in helping them play. This interaction between generations in the community really brings people together and is a fabulous example of the State Government’s strategy for an all age friendly community.

Clubs work hard to present their facility as an inviting and modern venue where the whole community can enjoy croquet. Clubs are often located in lovely ambient surroundings, when coupled with the lush croquet lawns are a delight for anyone to enjoy. Hyde Park club, located in the Unley Council area is one such club. In an effort to make their facilities more attractive for their members and guests they recently purchased some new chairs – chairs that were safer and more comfortable that the 40+ year old ones they replaced. The Club is very appreciative of the Grants for Seniors funding it received for the chairs through Office for the Ageing.

So, step up to croquet, click here for more information or phone 8271 6586 to find your nearest club.

This is an article is from the magazine “The Weekend Plus”, a South Australian Government Publication devoted to South Australian Seniors. It is well worth a read, even if you are not from South Australia. I trust they will not object to my reproducing it in this blog.

The Fun Croquet Game! Golf croquet!

Croquet suffers the disadvantage over bowls in being not so well-known or understood. As a result bowls is the popular choice. Another problem is accessibility. There are fewer croquet clubs, and they may not be close. Immaculate lawns must meet the specific requirements of croquet. The speed of ball movement in croquet has to be precise to reach but not overshoot targeted positions. The usual bowling green is too fast.

The strategies and the rules of Association Croquet, the classic form of the game, take time to master, but many players choose it over bowls for the challenges this presents. Games are usually capped at two and a half hours, and as a result tournaments may last several days. They are intensely competitive, motivating players to strive for excellence. Even “friendlies” can be almost do or die events.

Not everyone coming to retirement or seeking a sport for their leisure hours, wishes to be so deeply involved.  Golf croquet is a simpler version, and a fun game, with plenty of social interaction, It is still very skilful. It is amazing how often freakish shots occur to  the applause of even one’s opponents. The game is also shorter, most lasting about three-quarters of an hour. This allows a game to be played before and after the essential tea break in a morning or afternoon session of play. Golf croquet has saved many a club from extinction.

Golf Croquet Mount Barker Style

Mt Barker CroqueteersIt may not have the youngest members, but it would definitely rate as one of the friendliest of clubs.

This group of 25 Mount Barker Golf Croquet regulars are enthusiastic about their twice weekly friendly matches. In Gala day competitions, visitors from other clubs, join the local club for a full day of competitive croquet matches.

Club Logo

The club logo.

Two mallets forming an oblique cross  with a set of croquet balls in the angles with the primary colours of blue/black and red/yellow

 Don’t wait until you retire to take up croquet!

SA Golf Croquet State Team 2013

SA Golf Croquet State Team 2013

It is the younger players who do best. It helps too if you have prowess in other sports.

Location of the Mount Barker Croquet and club details

The club is on the low side of Mann Street, next to the Mount Barker Bowling Club, on the eastern side of Adelaide Road, busy entrance to Mount Barker from Adelaide’s South-Eastern Freeway.
Corner Mann Street and Adelaide Road Mount Barker, SA 5251
Organisation Phone
Phone contact: 08 8398 6742 Neal Gibson
Organisation Email
Club Secretary:  Neal Gibson, 42/2 Hutchinson Street Mount Barker, SA 5251
Parent Body:
SA Croquet Association
Fields a number of divisions which play, Tues 10am – 12.30pm; Thurs 9am – 12 noon; Saturday 9am – 11.30am
$250 plus SACA ( South Australian Croquet Association) Fee
Club Secretary Neal Gibson

Club Secretary Neal Gibson

There are three standard size lawns. To accommodate more players, each lawn can be sub-divided if necessary into two.
 At play on the main lawn in front of the shelter and equipment shed.

At play on the main lawn in front of the shelter and equipment shed.

The not so modern rest rooms

The not so modern rest rooms

What better name for the club toilet block?
Croquhe for Gentlemen
Croquher for the Ladies
Pelicans - Mount Barker Wetlands

Pelicans – Mount Barker’s Laratinga Wetlands

Few clubs can boast such a lovely leafy setting such as the Mount Barker Club members enjoy. In the background on the other side of Adelaide Road, is the Keith Stephenson recreational park. A linear walking trail  on the southern edge of the club links this park to the famous Laratinga Wetlands.
Refurbished (thanks to Mt barker Council) Clubhouse.

Refurbished (thanks to Mt Barker Council) Clubhouse.

Golf Croquet players in action on the 2nd and 3rd lawns in front of the refurbished clubhouse. In the back-ground behind the clubhouse, on the other-side of Adelaide Road is the popular Wallis Cinema complex, a modern state-of-the-art facility which boasts seven auditoriums, each with a wall-to-wall screen, high back seats, and Dolby Surround Sound.   It adjoins the historic Auchendarroch House and the Tavern.

Originally named The Oakfield Hotel, “Auchendarroch” derives its origins from the Scottish-Gaelic term ‘holy place of the oaks’ and was built-in 1860 by Scottish immigrant Lachlan McFarlane.

Another Scottish ex patriot, Robert Barr Smith, business person and philanthropist, purchased the property in 1878. He served on the boards of the University of Adelaide, the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and many Adelaide companies.

Interior of refurbished clubhouse.

Inside the clubhouse

Meet some of the Players

We would be delighted to meet you in person!!

Club President:  Valda Jaensch

Club President:
Valda Jaensch

colleen walters

Colleen Walters


Colleen and Maurice Walters manage the kitchen chores

dinner presentation 40

Denny Fry

Denny Fry



Peter Fry

Peter Fry

Kevin Jaensch

Kevin Jaensch

Max Walcom

Max Walcom

Trevor Kramm

Trevor Kramm

Monica Eglinton

Monica Eglinton

Heather Daniel

Heather Daniel

maurie hodgson

mavis klenke

Lorraine and Trevor

Lorraine and Trevor

teresa king

Lorraine Kramm

Lorraine Kramm


The early days of croquet in South Australia.

Fellow Retiree and friend, Pharmacist Ralph Worthington and his wife Jill introduced me soon after I retired to the mysteries of croquet. Skilled player Aileen Mehaffey became my coach and Mentor at the strong Norwood Croquet Club on Portrush Road in Adelaide. At 65 I was never going to excel at the sport, but I enjoyed it and the social contacts. It kept me active, both physically and mentally, demanding constant focus on strategy and its execution.

After moving to a retirement home in the Adelaide Hills satellite township of Mount Barker, I transferred my membership to the local club.

This post is the result of a desire to learn of the beginnings of the croquet game in South Australia. I am indebted to the Croquet SA website for the following historical information.

South Australia was settled 28 December 1836 when 176 free settlers including Captain John Hindmarsh subsequently the First Governor of the new colony arrived on board the HMS Buffalo at Glenelg.

They and subsequent settlers brought with them aspects of the genteel English lifestyle they had enjoyed in their homeland.  Not surprisingly croquet was a past-time they soon introduced to the new settlements, the earliest being in the Barossa Valley in 1867.



Croquet was brought to our state with the early English gentry. They wanted to keep their lifestyle and interests as they had in England.

Many of these people were able to build substantial homes in the Fitzroy, St. Peters, Medindie and Walkerville areas, just north of the Adelaide. A lot of these homes had their own courts, so the game was a social event.

Some of the larger families moved and bought pastoral leases in the fertile Angaston and Kapunda areas. Crops, wine and mining was very profitable.

The earliest photos we have are of a group of players in a paddock on a hill at Angaston on New Year’s Day 1867, photo below.

Recent research has revealed that it was Angaston, not Kapunda that had the first club in S.A. Croquet has been recorded as being played in the town as early as 1850.

Angaston club was officially formed in early 1867 and was played at various venues until land for a Sports Park was given to the town by Mr. George Fife Angus, whom the area was named after. This was in late 1867. The club membership was by ballot. The club celebrated its Centenary in 1967 and due the drop in membership closed in 1970 after 103 years.

Kapunda was the second club formed in 1868. Photo below of Kapunda club members.

This was closely followed by The North Adelaide Club. Membership list of this club were the who’s who of society at that time. Other than a list of the founding members and rules there is no more information of this club and it is said that when the president returned to England that the club folded after one year.

1890 saw two courts set up behind the main grandstand at the Adelaide Oval. This is where the games between clubs were played and plans were made to form our Association. These courts were used up to late 1925.

Mr T.N. Stephens was the instigator in the formation of the South Australian Croquet Association in 1917. He approached the City of Adelaide Council and obtained a part lease of Park 17 in the South Park lands edging onto Hutt Rd. South Terrace Club had previously in 1911 been allotted their area on the East side of the park. This also was obtained by Mr. T.N.Stephens.

1926 saw the first four courts set up and also the club house which was named “CROQUET HOUSE”. The opening was held in July that year.

In 1926 there were 47 registered clubs and the number was still growing.

A newspaper cutting records that in 1934 there were 1,300 players, six of whom were men. These were the first men to join the Association.

Both women and men have excelled in the game over the years. The Association and Golf Croquet interstate competitions are held annually and are in South Australia every few years. South Australia has a team of men and women representing our state in both Association and Golf croquet every year. South Australian players have also represented Australia in overseas tournaments. The McRobertson Shield is one of those.

In April 2012 we were honoured to host The 13th World Croquet Federation Association Croquet World Championships in Adelaide, they were a great success, and many local and interstate players and members of the community came to watch the best players in action.

Our School and Disabled Programs are very rewarding and we try to have Primary School Championship Games each year. The secondary school also compete in their program for the Championship.

Deaf, sight impaired, and brain injury folk love to play Golf Croquet it is a real treat for them to be able to play.

Coaching and Refereeing personnel give regular sessions and also travel to the rural areas when requested. This is very important to keep up the standard of our game.Although our membership is not what it was in 1934 and a few clubs have closed we are still a very active Association. At present there are 1,071 members and 43 clubs. Below is a photo of our clubhouse on Hutt Road as it is now.

This is only a brief outline of the history and activities of our Association, but will give you a little idea of our Croquet Life here in South Australia.

Janet Eckert
Croquet Archivist

South Australia wins third place in national croquet Tournament – the Eire Cup 2015

My local Mount Barker Croquet club in the Adelaide Hills was proud to have one current member (Pauline Walcom), and two former members (Greg Rowberry and Dwayne McCormick)  selected in the South Australian Team.

This address  a year ago tells the full story of the origin of the Eire Cup,.
Waiting for one's turn

Waiting for one’s turn

Eire Cup 2
An early start was essential each day as matches commenced promptly at 8.00am and any practice on the lawns before this time. Our first match was at Mosman against the very strong Victorian team. We left Chatswood at 7.15 in a 10 seater taxi and marvelled at the traffic in Sydney. We won quite a few games on this day and this was a big improvement on previous competitions.

The lawns and the venues were magnificent, as was the hospitality of the Mosman Croquet Club. The next day we competed at Chatswood and Killara (each venue only had two lawns) against Queensland and were victorious. This was a great result as SA had finished last the previous year. Friday saw us at Mosman again competing against WA. Another good win to SA.

Saturday however was a different result with SA going down to NSW. It was not a “whitewash” however and the players were pleased to win several games against this very strong team. Back at Mosman on the last day of competition saw the team defeat Tasmania and finish third in the Cup behind NSW and Victoria.

The last night we travelled to Darling Harbour for the presentation dinner and this was quite a thrill to travel by train across the bridge and see all of the lights of Sydney. The harbour was spectacular at night and we really enjoyed the other players and the great meal. The event was a really great experience and the team combined well both socially and during competition. Each night the team went out for a meal and relaxing time together and this helped with the cohesion of the team.

Monday morning saw us packing up and a very tired team returning to Adelaide. A great experience and some new friends made.

Association Croquet – a game of skill and strategy.

Croquet has long been regarded as just a genteel social game mostly played by privileged families in England on  grassed areas around their homes. It was played more for fun than to win, and it entertained guests in the summer months.

Since originating (I believe) in France in the 18th century, it has evolved into a more serious sport. Most Australians would be unaware that the famous South London tennis venue Wimbledon, founded in 1868  was originally a private croquet club known as ‘The All England Croquet Club’. The name was later changed to the “All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club”

There are two forms of the game.

The traditional game is known as Association Croquet. Its intricacies may be difficult for spectators to follow but it requires great skill, intense concentration, and smart planning to excel. It is now played in many countries, and is growing in popularity among younger people here in Australia. It does not yet enjoy a high profile but many  find it to be a challenging and rewarding recreational activity and one which importantly for older players also provides a welcome social outlet.

A shorter and simplified, but still skilful, form of croquet known as Golf Croquet has overtaken Association Croquet in popularity. Indeed  some clubs depend heavily on it for their membership.

How is it played?

The information below is a brief introduction to the mysteries of croquet for novices from the website of the Croquet Club of Oxford.




Modern croquet equipment

Modern croquet equipment.



Association Croquet – Basic rules


  • Introduction This document is intended to go part way in filling the gap between the simple synopsis and the Full Laws. In any case of dispute the Full Laws always apply.

  • Equipment The court is a flat grassed area of measuring 35 by 28 yards laid out according to the following diagram. Smaller courts can be used.

    lawn dimensions and hoop layout

    Diagram 1. The Standard Court. The corners are depicted by roman numerals. The yard-line and baulk-lines are not marked on the court and lie 1 yard in from the boundary. All distances are in yards.

    The peg is 18″ tall above ground and 1½” in diameter with a smaller dowel extension about ½” in diameter and 6″ long plugged in the top. The extension may be temporarily removed if it impedes the striker. The peg is in the centre of the lawn.

    Championship hoops are made of 5/8″ diameter metal forming a 12″ high hoop with a straight top. The gape of the hoop is approximately 3-3/4″ between the jaws (1/8″ wider than the balls). Hoops are bare metal or painted white with the first hoop having a blue top and the last hoop (rover) having a red top.

    Championship balls are 3-5/8″ diameter, coloured Blue, Black, Red and Yellow and weigh 16oz (454g).

    Clips coloured to match the balls indicate which hoop which colour ball is next for. Clips are placed on the top of the hoop if the ball is for hoops 1 to 6, or on the hoop upright for the second circuit. They can be temporarily removed if they impede the striker.

    Mallets must have parallel and identical end-faces made of wood or any other material giving similar properties.

  • The Basic Game

    1. The Object of the Game
      The game is a race around the circuit of hoops in the order and directions shown in the diagram above. The Blue and Black balls play against the Red and Yellow balls. The first side to get both of their balls through the 12 hoops in order and hit the peg is the winner. Once a ball has completed the circuit and hit the peg (is pegged out) it is removed from the game.
    2. The Turn
      The players play alternate turns. Once all four balls have been played on to the court, a player can start their turn by striking either of their balls but must thereafter strike only that ball (the striker’s ball) during that turn. A turn consists of a single stroke, after which the turn ends, unless in that stroke

      1. the striker’s ball scores its next hoop in which case it earns a continuation stroke, or
      2. hits another ball (makes a roquet) whereupon it gains a croquet stroke then a continuation stroke.

      When the striker’s ball has been through the last hoop it is known as a rover.  It can then score a peg point by striking the peg (pegging out) and be removed from the game. It may also cause another rover to be pegged out.

    3. Scoring Points
      The striker’s ball scores a hoop point for itself by entering a hoop from the correct direction and passing sufficiently through the hoop so that no part of the ball protrudes from the side of the hoop it entered by (runs a hoop). This may occur in one or more turns. On running the hoop the striker gets an extra stroke – a continuation stroke.If the striker’s ball causes another ball to run that ball’s hoop, that other ball is said to be peeled through the hoop and it gains a point. You do not gain a continuation stroke for peeling a ball. The owner of the ball which is peeled gets the hoop point.The score is the sum of the number of hoops and peg points each side has obtained.
    4. The Roquet
      If the striker’s ball hits another ball the striker gets two extra strokes. The first extra stroke is the croquet stroke and is played by picking up the striker’s ball and placing it in contact with the ball it has struck, the roqueted ball. The striker takes croquet (see below) from the roqueted ball which then becomes known as the croqueted ball. Following the croquet stroke the striker has a continuation stroke on their own ball.Summary: Roquet => Croquet => Continuation.At the start of each turn the striker’s ball may roquet each of the other three balls once. However, every time the striker’s ball scores its next hoop point it may roquet each of the other three balls again. The striker can roquet balls, run its next hoop and roquet the balls again, etc., in one turn so making a break.A ball can roquet another ball directly or after being scattered off a hoop, peg or other ball which it has already roqueted. If at the start of a turn the striker’s ball is in contact with another ball and the player chooses to play with that ball, a roquet is taken to have been made and you must take croquet immediately. Should the striker’s ball dislodge a ball it has already roqueted, the balls remain where they come to rest unless the striker’s ball subsequently hits a ball it may roquet.If a player completely runs their hoop and roquets a ball lying completely outside the jaws of the hoop then this is taken to be hoop run then roquet. Croquet must then be taken. A ball which has made a roquet is still in the game and can cause other balls to be moved and potentially peeled. Once it has made a roquet the striker’s ball may not score hoop points for itself in the same stroke, but may move other balls.
    5. The Croquet Stroke
      In the croquet stroke the striker strikes their own ball when it is in contact with the roqueted ball.  The roqueted ball must move or shake in the stroke. If it does not move it is a fault and the turn ends. After a fault the balls are either replaced as for the croquet stroke, or left where they ended up at the opponent’s option. The turn also ends if either ball in the croquet stroke leaves the lawn.If the croqueted ball is sent off the court after it is pegged out or if the striker’s ball roquets another ball, or runs its hoop before leaving the court, then the turn continues without penalty.
    6. The Continuation Stroke
      This is an ordinary stroke following the croquet stroke or hoop run in which, for example, a further roquet may be made or a point may be scored. Continuation strokes cannot be accumulated; for example if you run your hoop and make a roquet in the same stroke you must take croquet immediately.
    7. The Start of a Game
      The game starts with the toss of a coin. The winner of the toss decides whether they will take the choice of lead, i.e. which side plays first or second, or which pair of balls (Blue & Black or Red & Yellow) they will play with. If they take the choice of balls the adversary has the choice of who plays first and vice versa.At the start of a game, the side entitled to play first plays either of its balls into the court from any point on eitherbaulk-line (see diagram). At the end of that turn their adversary does likewise. In the third and fourth turns the remaining two balls are similarly played into the game.As soon as a ballis played on to the court it can immediately score points and makeroquets. Once all four ballshave been played on to the court the striker can start anysubsequent turn with either of their balls.At the end of each stroke any ball in the yard-line area other than the striker’s ball, which is played from where it lies, is brought back onto the yard-line nearest to its position. If at the end of a turn the striker’s ball lies within the yard-line it is brought back onto the yard-line. Any ball which has left the lawn is brought back onto the yard-line unless it is the striker’s ball due to take croquet.A ball goes off the court as soon as any part of it crosses a straight edge raised vertically from the inside of the boundary. If a ball cannot be exactly replaced on the yard-line because of the presence of other yard-line balls, it is replaced on the yard-line in contact with those balls.