EACH week a bouncy jumping castle is inflated by the bowls greens. Some mornings the castle is teeming with energetic toddlers, other times it stands still with small shade tents pegged nearby.
Rain or scorching sunshine, the jumping castle will go up for the Bowling with Babies program at Maryborough Golf and Bowls Club.
About 110 babies were born last year across the Maryborough region, including bubs in nearby towns Carisbrook, Dunolly and Talbot.
Dianne Campbell, a key driver in setting up Eureka Mums, said the challenge was in finding the mums with children in the birth to school-age group, then encouraging them to come try barefoot bowls.
Bowling for Babies is one element to how Maryborough Golf and Bowls Club is working to change the narrative for the town and region for the better
A club overhaul is underway from capital works and environmental sustainability to health and social, community programs. Club officials say part of this is about keeping the club alive, but also reinvigorating the region because this ultimately goes hand-in-hand.
Ms Campbell, who is the club's community partnerships coordinator, said a big barrier is in battling community perception this was just a stuffy golf and bowls club when the club was actually transitioning from a sports management to a community not-for-profit.
The club was not alone in its quest to try and reach young families.
Carisbrook mum Caroline Thoroughgood said cultural change was tough, but persistence was important. Ms Thoroughgood runs a mothers' support group in the region and faces similar challenges to Bowling for Babies.
"There is long-standard thinking this is a crap place to live and there's nothing to do, but in reality you can't do everything for mums and babies because there is too much," Ms Thoroughgood said.
"Change can be slow here. Programs really need to give it a go for six to 12 months or longer.
"As much as you plug it on flyers it still might take awhile - mums might want to start with a friend and it could be a couple of weeks before they coordinate together.
Word of mouth is really strong here.Carisbrook mum Caroline Thoroughgood
Bowling for Babies programs are fast proving popular across the state, including in booming regional towns like Bannockburn, near Geelong.
Ms Campbell said the club had funding to run the program another year and needed to know people supported the concept.
But she said this was "chicken-and-egg stuff" - people needed to know what the club could offer.
The club is keen to expand its bowls programs to a place where parents could enjoy a social bowl in access visits with their children. All-abilities bowling is gradually growing and the club planned to bring this and a junior bowls program to a standard for competing against like bowls programs in Ballarat and Bendigo.
Too often programs and fundraising initiatives were met with the question, "what's the catch", Club general manager Greg Nugent says
Feast on the Fairways is a fundraising for the Maryborough hospital and equipment to host Flicks on the Fairways (movies on the greens) is open to community groups. Mr Nugent said not many groups were taking up the offer.
The club knows it is operating in one of the state's poorest communities. Ms Campbell said there was a lingering perception the town was overlooked, particularly in political funding, and inter-generational hardship knocked confidence.
But the club was certain programs like Bowling for Babies could be the catalyst to changing the dialogue in the community.
Maryborough Golf and Bowls Club boasts an 18-hole course alongside its bowling greens. Mr Nugent said, like many small communities, social club membership was only 10 per cent of the town.
The core business model was to use it or lose it - and to lose it would create an uproar in the district, so the club had to find more people to use it.
A $1.83 million building project is a start. The kitchen and toilets desperately needed updating. Extra floor space will allow for function of 200 to 250 people without disrupting regular club patronage.
"Renovations will help bring us up to an acceptable standard. People go to Melbourne and come back here with expectations on how a place should feel," Mr Nugent said.
Pokie machines have been moved out of view to children and a modern indoor playground helps to lift a family-friendly environment.
Old and newer residential areas line each side of the golf course. The club has been working with allied health professionals in the region and the shire to create a dementia-friendly sensory trail to link housing in a way that would not interfere with golfers in any way. This would in turn, aim to bring more people into the community hub.
Mr Nugent said underlying everything was future-proofing the club. The key to this was preserving the golf course and the club needed to open up community talks and partnerships.
To keep the club feasible, Mr Nugent said the board had been exploring grants for greener energy options but importantly, the club wanted local business to be on board.
The 18-hole golf course needs to drink the equivalent of three Olympic-size swimming pools of water, one-metre in depth, each week. The club is working to collaborate with local industry to use transportable water that would otherwise be trucked north. Mr Nugent said, in theory, reduced transport costs should make this a win-win situation.
Maryborough's dry climate is also a challenge for Ms Campbell in the bowls program. Bright, hot mornings are not conducive to mothers getting out on the greens with young children.
Bowls are still always laid out and the jumping castle inflated.
This is here for the long haul. We want to keep talking to people who come along so we can better identify community needs.Dianne Campbell, Maryborough Golf and Bowls Club
"This is here for the long haul and will be here next summer. We want to keep talking to people who come along so we can better identify community needs," Ms Campbell said. "We think it takes the company of others, a village, to raise a child and we don't want mums in the region to feel alone until their child reaches school. (Bowls) is low-impact, plus barefoot bowls is fun and social.
"We've got people with drive and intellectual capacity for a vibrant Maryborough. People here deserve this change, they just need to see what's possible."
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