Forty years ago today the doors of Bundy Bowl opened for the first time and today the much-loved family entertainment centre is just as strong and continues to grow.
Bundy Bowl was originally built in the car park of what was then Sugarland Shopping Town before it moved to its current location in Lester Street, Norville.
Owners Peter and Jeanette McElligott and Brisbane couple Noel and Joan Ambler have many fond memories about owning the bowling alley; Jeanette said they had just about raised their family in it.
In the 40 years more than 1000 Bundaberg residents have worked at the centre, and possibly millions have tried their luck at a strike or two of the bowling pins.
The famous bowling grandma
Pete and his mother Bobbie Noonan both applied to work at the centre when it first opened its doors.
“I had just finished Year 10 and my mum said to me ‘you're no good at school, go and get a job',” Peter said.
“We saw jobs for a junior mechanic and a cafe assistant and both applied and got them.”
Pete said Bobbie made a name for herself and out-bowled the younger generation a number of times.
“My mother worked right up to the age of 84 and was known around town as the bowling grannie,” he said.
“She won the biggest bowling event in Bundaberg against all comers at the age of 84.
“She demoralised a lot of youth here year after year with her strikes.”
How it all started
At 16 years of age Pete spent the first few years behind the scenes, or the fallen pins as it was, cleaning every part of the inside of the machine.
“I started at lane one and would clean clean parts and pins, making my way along to the end before turning around and doing it all over at lane one again,” Peter said.
“I did that and it seems I did it really well because at 22 years of age they made me the head of the service centre.
“To my surprise the then owner Noel Toft asked me if I would like to manage the whole centre.”
Pete agreed, as long as he had the support of Noel.
“The next minute we went along to the staff meeting with lots of people who were much older than me, 40, 50 and 60, and Noel announced there was going to be a new manager for the centre.
“I was standing there in my mechanics uniform and he pointed to me.
“Everyone looked at me strange, but from that moment on I have been here nearly every day.”
Unfortunately Mr Toft passed away after a car crash and that's when the McElligott family joined forces with Noel and Joan Ambler from Brisbane, to form a great partnership to take the centre forward.
Bundy Bowl moved to Lester Street in 1991 and was turned into the family entertainment centre.
Congratulations from Council
Bundaberg Regional Council’s planning and development portfolio spokesperson Cr Ross Sommerfeld helped celebrate the 40th birthday with the official cake cutting.
He said it was a wonderful and safe environment to take the family, as he shared memories of competing with his own sons many years ago.
“The kids used to go along when they were little and we had a bit of competition between us,” Cr Sommerfeld said.
“On behalf of the council well done. You have people from near and far come to Bundaberg to go bowling.
“Its great for the region, the community and your health.
“It's a great for Bundaberg that there is a place like this, that not only entertains the children but gets them socialising away from computers and iPads.”
New things on the horizon
Jeanette said the centre was always evolving to meet community needs.
“We have a new a few things happening at the moment,” Jeanette said.
“We are working on a VR Room and a new whole family eat-in experience.”
The new family dining experience will be happening in the new eatery, Strikers Delight.
If all goes to plan the the restaurant will open its doors in about a month's time and will operate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.