TEAM TORTOISE: Peter Gunn and Mick Gannaway are just two of the Blokes' cycling group who ride various Gold Coast routes and this year took on some European roads.
TEAM TORTOISE: Peter Gunn and Mick Gannaway are just two of the Blokes' cycling group who ride various Gold Coast routes and this year took on some European roads.

'Lounge' is a place for blokes to be mates

FRIENDSHIP is at the centre of the Bloke's Lounge, and its casual, fun approach has seen the group grow from eight to 88 members in six years.

The Lounge welcomes all blokes over 50 to informal meetings twice-monthly at Surfers Paradise Golf Club, but more importantly to take part in a host of activities in between.

Founder Ian McDougall said he likes to call it a "virtual lounge" because the group, with a median age of 68-70, has created its own connections which go far beyond his original concept of a single gathering place.

Participants come from a wide range of nationalities and walks of life and have a huge variety of interests, leading to a good choice of things to get involved in.

New members are asked to write a bit about themselves and their interests, so it's easy to find like-minded people to socialise with.

And it's completely up to you how much or how little you do - including whether you go to meetings.

Foundation member Mick Gunnaway explained the Lounge as "a place where blokes can use their skills and abilities to help each other".

"A place where you can bring a problem and get it solved and, if it is not solved, you at least don't feel so bad about having it."

Ian said the concept began with the realisation that there were many men who, if they didn't play bowls or golf, or weren't into "tinkering" in the Men's Shed, became a bit "lost and bored" when they stopped or reduced work.

Some have lived on the Coast all their lives, but many have moved to the area in retirement.

"Men don't build up those networks of friendships outside of work like women do," Ian said.

At the Bloke's Lounge, they discover new people and make new mates.

"You can go to any of our activities and you just laugh," Ian said.

"They take the proverbial out of each other and everyone gives as good as they get."

Cycling in Team Tortoise is one of the most popular pastimes, involving about one-third of the membership in rides - no lycra allowed!

There's also, fishing, cycling, snooker, darts, coffee, cards, movies, beach walk and brekkie, barefoot bowls and barbecues, and they are open to new suggestions.

There's even a monthly breakfast that partners are invited to attend.

"It's fun, social, there's no pressure to attend anything; you are not asked to go out and raise money ... it's all about making new mates," Ian said.

And for some it really is life-changing - giving them a reason to get up and going each day and enjoying life again, with some saying it's "the best thing that ever happened".

Membership costs just $15 per year - "that's a couple of beers, or three cups of coffee", Ian said - and you get a lot more out of it.

To find out more, go to www.blokeslounge.org or phone Ian on 0409 987 231.


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