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Still young at heart

By Sheree Hoddinett

Rose Smith may be 90 years old but she certainly doesn’t look it or even act it for that matter. The very bubbly Sandstone Point resident is a keen social bowler having been a part of the Bongaree Bowls Club now for 30 years, but a part of the sport even longer. You can still catch her rolling a bowl down the green every Wednesday and Saturday too. And she has no intention of stopping anytime soon.

What makes Rose stand out even more is her choice of bowls. While the other ladies have their myriad of different colours, Rose shows off her skills with her trusty set of older brown bowls. It seems they have definitely captured the attention of other bowlers and caused a little bit of a stir.

“Those brown bowls, they have been the cause of many comments,” Rose said laughing. “My little brown bowls, the others can’t believe I still use them and beat them too. My husband Ray bought them about 30 years ago when we first came to Bribie. I’m definitely not getting rid of them, I like them and they get the job done. They take a bit of extra green too. I have to go into the next rink to get the bowl to draw and they just can’t believe it. It just curls in and sits on the jack, no one can believe it. They think I’ve got a magnet on my bowl. It’s a lot of fun, we have a lot of laughs.”

Rose was born in Bowen, but met her husband Ray in Wollongong when she was visiting her sister for a holiday and “stayed a little longer”. They married when Rose was 19 and had two daughters (one of whom was killed in a car accident as a teenager). With Ray in the police force, the couple were transferred around the country, spending time in many different towns. It was in Moulamein, near Swan Hill where they first learnt to play bowls.

“They put a bowl in your hand and said you do it this way and just go. There was no-one to coach,” Rose said. “That’s where I learned and first started to bowl. They said if you don’t play bowls, you’ll be left out because there wasn’t much else to do in the town.”

They eventually moved back to Queensland, settling on the beautiful surrounds of Bribie and joining the Bongaree Bowls Club. Rose’s daughter lives nearby and she is also a very proud grandmother of three and a great-grandmother to two little ones, aged just six months and two-years-old. Although Ray passed away 13 years ago, Rose lives independently, still drives locally and enjoys spending her time with family and friends. So what is it about bowls that Rose loves?

“The friendship, meeting people and to still be able to play something at my age,” Rose said. “That’s the most important thing, to have somewhere to go and not have my family worry about me. I have a wonderful friend from New Zealand, who I met at bowls, she only lives a block away. She picks me up and takes me to and from bowls. They call us the terrible two at Bongaree. We only worked out the other day we’ve been friends for eight or nine years.”

She’s had quite a mixed life, losing her father at a young age, she and her two sisters were raised by their mum, with Rose describing her as a “wonderful mother” who taught her many skills including her love of cooking homemade meals. With a big smile on her face, frequent bouts of laughter and an overall happy nature, Rose comes across as a much younger person than her 90 years. She turns 91 in February and even though she was born in a leap year, she admits she doesn’t miss the opportunity to pick whichever day she wants to celebrate her birthday. So, what is her secret to living happily to a nice ‘older’ age?

“I think not smoking or drinking and not overdoing things, just live and eat your own homecooked food (only have takeaway occasionally) and play bowls,” she said laughing.

“Just doing the right thing, living the right way.”

You never know, Rose may still be rolling bowls down the green well into her 90s!


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