Kangaroo Flat Sports Club History

In 1988 a proposal was instigated by the Kangaroo Flat Football Club to call a public meeting to discuss the prospect of forming a Community Sporting building.  This meeting was conducted at the Kangaroo Flat Bowling Club and was chaired by Alan Besley, the nominated Public Independent representative.

At that meeting a Sub-Committee was formed to investigate and examine the possibility of building a Community building at Dower Park Reserve.  As a result of the Sub-Committee recommending that a building be developed, works were put into place to plan development and to finance the building costs.  Therefore, as a result of the Sub-Committee’s approval to proceed with development of the Club building, the Marong Shire was approached together with Department of Sport & Recreation to assist with the funding.  Robert Austin was appointed as Project Manager of the project to co-ordinate all building works.

To proceed with the proposed building the Sub-Committee negotiated with Dower Park Recreation Reserve Committee of Management for approval of a 3 year lease period for the Sports Club building area.  It was agreed at the time that this lease would then be re-negotiated for a longer term depending on the financial viability of the Club.

Building works for the Kangaroo Flat Sports Club commenced in January 1990 to construct the community building for the sporting bodies and the general public and this project was completed in March 1991.  The building was financed by the Dower Park Reserve Committee of Management, Kangaroo Flat Football Club, Kangaroo Flat Cricket Club, Marong Shire Council, Department of Sport & Recreation and local community support through a ‘Buy A Brick’ campaign.development1

Total cost of first stage of Sports Club building was $330,000 and built by sub contractors with assistance from volunteer labour.

In March 1991 the Community building was opened for trading to cater for the sporting groups and in this initial term the Kangaroo Flat Football Club controlled the club operations.  Due to a financial situation, in August 1991 the Kangaroo Flat Sports Club Committee of Management was formed to take over control of the building from the Football Club.  The Committee consisted of 8 delegates representing the associated sporting bodies of the complex including Dower Park Committee of Management (2), Football Club (2), Cricket Club (1), Scouts (1), Swimming Club (1), Public Independent (1).  The first President of the Sports Club elected in 1991 was Robert Austin who was also the Liquor Licence Nominee.

From 1991 the Sports Club operated with Bar, Bistro & Functions being the main revenue source.  In April 1992 the Club appointed Bruce Wicks as a casual manager with voluntary staff which then increased to the Club appointing permanent part time employees.  Bruce Wicks was then appointed as General Manager of the Club.

Following a period of approximately 3 years, the Club then became financially viable and then were in position to support financially the sporting bodies associated with the Club.

The Kangaroo Flat Bowls Club was approached to join the Kangaroo Flat Sports Club Committee in 1994 and they accepted and are now an associated body of the Sports Club.  One of the conditions of the Bowls Club agreement was that they would not run or conduct functions against the Sports Club.

Following previous lease arrangements with Dower Park Reserve Committee of Management, the Sports Club negotiated a new lease arrangement and this was agreed to on 1 November 1994 for a 21 year lease period.

In 1994 Gaming Machine Licences became available and the Sports Club applied for 25 machines. A public meeting was held in the Sports Club to address the poker machine proposal and out of an approximate attendance of 60 people there were only 3 persons who objected to the proposal.  The introduction of gaming machines to the Sports Club paved the way for the Sports Club to develop and operate at a profit which then resulted in the local sporting bodies receiving a yearly donation.  Robert Austin became the Venue Operator Nominee for gaming machines.

Due to the financial progress it was then decided to make some minor alterations to the building to increase the floor area for patrons.  With the additional floor space and alterations to the internal building the Club then applied for a further 13 gaming machines in 1995 and this request was granted.  The Sports Club now had an allocation of 38 gaming machines.

Due to steady financial progress and membership growth the Sports Club then decided to stage a further building development and were in a position to still maintain the existing financial support to the associated sporting bodies.

This development commenced in 1997 and the building extensions included a new gaming area and a 250 seating function room together with a revamped kitchen and a lift to accommodate up to 9 people.  The City of Greater Bendigo agreed to act as guarantor for the $600,000 loan to fund the project which was provided by Bendigo Bank.

City of Greater Bendigo Mayor, Maurie Sharkey said at the time that Council did not usually guarantee loans for social club activities, however, because the Sport’s Club had made long term contributions to the Community and was one of the City’s biggest donors to sporting groups that Council had approved the loan guarantee.

The 10 year bank loan for this development was paid off within a period of 7 years.


Following continued success at the Sports Club, it was then decided in 2003 to make application to increase the gaming machine allocation from 38 machines to 48 machines.  This approval was finalised in May 2003.   Committee Member of the Club, Marie Thompson was awarded Life Membership in 2003 and President of the Club, Robert Austin was awarded Life Membership in 2005.

Due to the success and revenue being derived from gaming machines the Club were now in a position to provide support funding to the associated clubs and the first payment was made in 1995 to the Football, Cricket, Swimming & Scout Clubs.  In this first year the Clubs received a total donation amount of $4267.00 and these donations were set to continue in future years.

From 2003 until 2006 the Club continued to operate and prosper under the management of Bruce Wicks who was awarded Life Membership in 2006.  The membership base was approximately 700 members.   Unfortunately, due to illness Bruce passed away in December 2006.

The Sports Club appointed Ken Yates as General Manager who commenced in that position on 7 March 2007.

A number of internal refurbishments including a new fit out of the kitchen at a cost of $85,000  was completed in 2007 together with a new external smoking balcony at a cost of $63,000.   The Committee decided to examine further club extensions to cater for the future, therefore, local Architects Hughes Cartwright were engaged to prepare preliminary plans.

A new staffing structure also was implemented with full time positions of Assistant Manager (Jude Biggin) and Gaming/Functions Manager (Sarah Mulqueen) being introduced.  The number of  staff employed by the Club including full time positions had increased to 25.  Following a number of years on the Sports Club Committee, Mark Rohde was appointed as President of the Club following the resignation of long term and inaugural President Bob Austin who stepped down to be Vice President following an illness.

In November 2008 a major internal refurbishment of the building commenced and within a 3 week period the upstairs internal area was completely refurbished at a cost of approximately $450,000.  The completed works justified the dollars spent on the project as the following 12 month period witnessed a substantial increase in all trading areas of the Sports Club.

The club awarded Life Membership to the Club’s Public Independent Officer, Robin Pearse in 2008 after serving on the Committee for a period of 10 years.

The State Government (Labour) commenced the process of adopting a new gaming structure to end the gaming operator duopoly and move to a venue operator structure and this was announced in 2009 to commence in August 2012.  The new process included a gaming auction to be conducted in 2010 which would determine the Club’s future commitment to gaming and also providing the opportunity to proceed with the Master Plan building extension programme.

In early 2010 the Club refurbished the existing downstairs area of the Club and upgraded the storage/maintenance/cool room area at an approximate cost of $65,000.

The Sports Club secured an additional 12 gaming machines at the State Government  gaming auction to increase the total of gaming machines to 60 that commenced on 15 August 2012.


Following the gaming auction process and aware of the additional area required for new gaming machines the Sports Club approved the Master Plan concept.  The Committee also recognised that to cater for future needs of the local community that the Sports Club needed to develop further and had the vision to extend the club facilities.

Local Architects, Hughes Cartwright Design Group were invited to examine the possibilities available to ensure that a suitable plan could be developed that would provide the opportunity for the Sports Club to continue to grow in the future.

A number of plans were presented to the Committee in the early stages with numerous changes being made along the way.  The Committee agreed on a 10 year master plan to be developed over a 4 stage period covering extended bistro, bar, gaming, kitchen, reception, function and sports bar facilities.  Final plans and costs for the building construction were then sought by the architects.

The Club engaged local consultants, Conceptz Town Planners to be involved and  to prepare the planning process for the project which commenced with discussions with Bendigo Bank to enter into a loan agreement to borrow the necessary funds required.

A number of issues had to be dealt with by Council in regard to planning and the club also received some objections from local residents.  Following a mediation session conducted by Council on 22 July 2009 to discuss issues with local residents, the minor issues were resolved apart from one resident who lodged an objection with VCAT.  The club was successful in receiving approval from VCAT, however, the process did delay the approval for the project.

On 30 March 2010 following 3 years of planning and receiving approvals from various authorities a planning permit was issued for construction of the 10 year master plan.  The approval then allowed the club to proceed with engaging architects Hughes Cartwright Design Group to design the building and for Bate Architecture of Collingwood to be appointed as Interior architects for the building.

The Committee were pleased with the plans presented by both architects and approval was given for the project to commence.

The tender process took place with local builders, Walsh & O’Meara being successful to build the project.


Site construction works commenced in September 2011 with the building works being completed in different stages to allow the club to continue its trading operations.  The completed development works completed in September 2012 included:-

  • increased bistro area with seating increasing from 110 to 180
  • new kitchen servery
  • increased gaming lounge area
  • increased smokers balcony area
  • new office accommodation

The building was opened on 9 October 2012 with approximately 80 guests attending a get together in the new Board room of the Sports Club.

In 2013 further changes were introduced in the gaming industry with the State Government placing a permanent ban on Automatic Teller Machines in gaming venues throughout the State.  To counteract the possibility of wagering turnover reducing as a result of the ATM being removed from the premises, the club sought other types of cash transaction machines and installed a different type of cash out facility which had government approval.

The cost of the building extension including building construction, consultants fees, permits, fixtures and fittings equated to an amount of approximately $2.5m.

The following twelve month period since the completion of the building has seen the Sports Club progress in a positive manner with staff numbers increasing to 35 staff and increased business in Bistro, Bar & Gaming takings. The number of bistro meals served in years 2015 and 2016 averaged approximately 65,000 meals per annum justifying the addition of an enlarged bistro included in the building extension.

In June 2013 a TAB Electronic Betting Terminal was installed in the Sports Bar adding another attraction to cater for patrons.

The club purchased an adjoining property located at 275 MacKenzie St West, Kangaroo Flat in November 2013 for an amount of $375,000.00.  Tenants have been renting the property since that time.

Committee member, Ron Murphy was awarded Life Membership of the Sports Club in 2014.

In November 2015, new social rooms were constructed on ground level underneath the Sports Club extension that occurred in 2012.  The new rooms constructed at the southern end of the building to be utilised between the Football & Cricket clubs was another step in the club development.  The new facility was designed to create a social opportunity for members and supporters of both clubs to enjoy and to galvanise the sporting bodies located at Dower Park.  The financial contribution towards this project was funded by the City of Greater Bendigo together with the football and cricket clubs contribution.

The affiliated sporting clubs have continued to receive an annual sponsorship dividend from the Sports Club and since the introduction of this scheme the total amount donated to the Clubs from 1995 to 2019 has totalled an amount of $1.6m.

In 2016 the Board of the Sports Club announced that the club would provide an amount of $100,000 towards the community fund raising drive to contribute $1m required for the development of the new Greater Bendigo Indoor Aquatic and Wellbeing Centre being constructed at Kangaroo Flat.

At the end of 2016, President Mark Rohde announced that he would need to step aside as President of the Sports Club due to the Kangaroo Flat Swimming Club appointing a new Swimming Club delegate to be appointed as a Board member of the Sports Club.

New incoming President of the Sports Club, Ron Murphy was appointed on 30 January 2017.

A new cool room was constructed in April 2017 at an approximate cost of $30,000.

On 28 May 2018 a bar refurbishment commenced with the Sports & Bistro bars being revamped in 2 work stages over a 12 week period.  The building works being completed by local builders, Walsh & O’Meara at an estimated cost of approximately $300,000.  The new bar areas providing a more efficient and updated bar and cashier facility for staff and patrons.

A further building extension and development of the Sports Club is occurring at present with the undercover parking area at the northern end of the building being developed and funded by City of Greater Bendigo into new change room facilities for sporting bodies.

At this stage, the Sports Club is achieving a solid financial return on the building and gaming investment and is placed in a position to proceed into an exciting future.

As of 1 March 2019


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