ALL WE need is the cucumber sandwiches.
On a perfect Sunshine Coast winter morning, sun shining, skies blue, birds singing, we are embracing our good fortune over a game of croquet.
Not that we need cucumber sandwiches, it is just that they sound synonymous with croquet. The game is, after all, very old and had its beginning in England in the early 1400s. At the Noosa Croquet Club, it is all about today's modern take on this genteel game, and, arguably, there couldn't be a better court to play on in the entire country. The Noosa Croquet Club is a hidden jewel. You have to look for it. There is a sign off Shorehaven Dve in Noosa Waters but then it is a question of making a few turns around winding suburban streets until you come across this delightful enclave. A small clubhouse overlooks manicured greens where players swing their mallets and compete in this gentle sport that so many associate with English gentry. The game is available to everyone, even a member of the hoi polloi such as me, picking up the mallet for the first time in her life.
"Have a guess at how far you would walk throughout one 45-minute game," member Joan Cordell said.
"Not very far," was the only answer. The hoops on the greens looked as though they could be tackled in a half a kilometre.
"Three kilometres," Joan said to our surprise.
"It is a game of gentle exercise and mental stimulation," Joan explained further and after a 15-minute introduction we could see why. There are strategies to contemplate, clever moves to make to ensure your competitor does not get that ball through the hoop before you do.
The Noosa club is just one of a number of croquet clubs on the Sunshine Coast but its members believe it is the prettiest. There is no denying its idyllic location: tucked away, no road noise, surrounded by beautiful gardens and trees where the birds sing. The club began life in 1991 in Tewantin and relocated to Noosa Waters in 1995. Five courts are maintained by a groundsman. The club has sunk its own water bore and storage tanks to ensure a permanent supply. Kitchen facilities in the clubhouse mean an active social side to the club. National, state, regional and inter-club tournaments are all hosted and three codes are offered: association, golf, ricochet. Although Joan Cordell says she is a beginner, she looks like a pro as she swings her mallet and secures her ball through the hoop.
"We have 70 members and we can always welcome more," Club Secretary Colin Hindson said, as we watched president Niven Gugich on the court.
"I used to play bowls, but this is better," Niven said. "With croquet, you can play a game, have a rest, come back play another.
Although croquet is a game suited for seniors, it is also perfect for everyone from the age of 10. It is played in about 26 countries around the world, and Australians have embraced it with more than 8000 players swinging the mallets all over the country.
The idea is to not only hit the ball but to outwit your opposition and win more hoops than him. It's very social but can also be very competitive. Clubs and state organisations hold regular tournaments and carnivals to allow competitive players to pit their skills against other clubs. More information at Noosa on 54742077.
For other areas contact: www.croquetqld.org/ new-clubs/sunshine-coast /Regional
Headland Buderim Croquet Club
Nambour Croquet Club Inc.
Caloundra Croquet & Mallet Sports Club