Nelson Bay Croquet Club was established in 1996 by Ann and Eric Bone. Popular folklore has it that Ann refused to move from Maitland to Port Stephens unless there was a croquet club!! Margaret and Tommy Thompson were also key players in the establishment of the club and their contribution, as well as that of the Bones, is recognised by the naming of the Club's first two lawns after these couples.
Following an inaugural meeting of 14 interested people on 14th November 1995, an application for a playing area was made to Port Stephens Council. Unfortunately, the demand for the limited sport and recreation facilities available in Nelson Bay meant that the Council could not respond positively. Not to be deterred, Ann and Eric organised a 'field day' on 8th February 1996, when nearly 40 people turned-up at a hastily prepared croquet court on a soccer pitch at Tomaree Sports Complex - mallets, balls and hoops were provided by Maitland, Newcastle National Park and Lake Macquarie Croquet Clubs who also assisted with coaching.
Within a month, the Club was offered the use of a surplus bowling green at Nelson Bay Bowling Club and the first games of croquet conducted by the Club were held here. However, the single available green could not support the demand as the club grew - within five years, membership had more than tripled in size (and the club continues to attract new members each year).
In May 2008 a facility for the sole use of the club (two courts and clubhouse) was provided by Port Stephens Council, which has continued to support the club with grants for further improvements.
Tommy and Margaret Thompson, Ann and Eric Bone
Mayor Ron Swann declaring the new club facilities open
March 2008 - birth of the new courts
By 2018, the Club had over 100 members and was the 5th largest croquet club in NSW by playing numbers, but was one of only two of the ten largest clubs in NSW to have only two courts.
In collaboration with Port Stephens Council, the Club embarked on a project to develop two additional playing courts. In April 2020, the two new courts were completed, a development made possible by financial contributions and grants from the NSW State Government, Port Stephens Council and Tomaree Sports Council …. plus a significant contribution from the Club itself.
The COVID pandemic of 2020/21 meant that the formal opening of the new courts was delayed until 3rd December 2021, after the Club had been playing on them for over 18 months. Given the financial contribution of the NSW State Government, it was fitting that Kate Washington MP, State Member for Port Stephens, was available to officially open the courts, in the presence of Councillor Glen Dunkley, representing the Mayor Ryan Palmer, Bruce Scott, President of Tomaree Sports Council, and Councillor John Nell. Kate Washington unveiled a commemorative plaque before members and guests enjoyed a morning tea.
Kate Washington MP, State Member for Port Stephens opens the new courts
.... and unveils a commemorative plaque
David Wilson (President), Glenn Dunkley, Margaret Thompson, Kate Washington, John Nell, Philippa Brooks (representing PRD, sponsors of the Christmas Bush Bash) and Bruce Scott
Stages of the development