BOWLED OVER: Harold Poole is a champion among champions in the Lockyer Valley lawn bowls world.
BOWLED OVER: Harold Poole is a champion among champions in the Lockyer Valley lawn bowls world. Francis Witsenhuysen

Harold, the Lockyer Valley's champion bowler

HE'S 96 years old, yet Laidley's champion lawn bowler Harold Poole still plays a game of bowls twice a week and is still an undefeated champion.

Bowls became a big part of Mr Poole's life in 1958 when a neighbour in Laidley Creek talked him into coming along for a match at the Laidley Bowls Club.

"I was a natural and I decided I wanted to join,” Mr Poole said.

"Then I just went from strength to strength.

"There's nothing I don't like about bowls.”

That match sparked an impressive number of wins in hundreds of competitions for Mr Poole, who has scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings written on his successes over the last 59 years.

It was at Laidley Bowls Club that he won his first singles title.

Harold Poole being congratulated by George Comino on a win at the Laidley Bowls Club in the mid-60s.
Harold Poole being congratulated by George Comino on a win at the Laidley Bowls Club in the mid-60s. Photo Contributed

Since then he has clocked many victories including five singles crowns with Laidley, Burleigh Heads, Toowoomba Club, three at South Toowoomba and another at Drayton.

His most impressive wins were 1970 champion of champions district singles, 1972 Carnival of Flowers winner, 1980 champions of champions singles winner and the 1984 and 1985 champion of champions singles winner.

"I won the champion of champion singles for Queensland in 1985 in Rockhampton. That's probably my best win,” he said.

"In my singles record, out of 35 champions I won 12 champions of champions.”

To this day, Mr Poole is still undefeated at Drayton Bowls Club and still plays at Laidley every Wednesday.

"My mate Jim Walker drives me up to Toowoomba every week. I have a lot to thank him for,” he said.

Harold Poole and his mate, Jimmy Walker.
Harold Poole and his mate, Jimmy Walker. Francis Witsenhuysen

"I've made lots of good friends playing bowls and I like the competition.

"I think I'm lucky to be able to play at my age but if it's too hot I don't play.”

One thing Mr Poole said he wishes he could do was compete in championships.

"I played my last one a year ago in the Laidley Fours and we won that,” he said, smiling.

Sitting in his house in Tabeel Lutheran Retirement Village, Mr Poole began reminiscing about life and what it meant to be "doing it tough” back in the day in the Lockyer Valley.

In 1935, before becoming a farmer and then a carpenter, Mr Poole worked in a butcher's shop for about seven shillings and sixpence a week (about 75 cents now).

He was 15 years old.

"We used to kill the cattle up the back in the killing yard, just me and another guy. We'd spear them in the back of the head, bleed them, take the skin off, sew them up, dress them up in quarters and take them on a horse and cart down to the butcher's shop,” he said.

"One of us would open the door and the other would wave a towel around to try and keep the blow flies out, then we would hang up the meat.

"There was no stainless steel, no cold room and no refrigeration.”

The butchers would then cut up the meat on a big wooden block, cut off from a gum tree with four legs put on it. At the end of the week they would scrub it down.

"It was hard work, you would even turn the mincer by hand. It's unreal how we managed when I look back at it now,” he said.

Born in the Gatton Hospital on November 12, 1920, Mr Poole grew up in Mt Whitestone, attended school there, then went to Grantham Scrub school.

He moved to Laidley Creek with his first wife at aged 32.

"We had a little mixed farm and a dairy herd, we were there for 14 years. But we decided sell and move to Gatton and there I became a carpenter,” he said.

"I liked making things with my hands, I loved making tables and things for around our house.

"I had lots to do with farming, I loved ploughing, I ploughed a lot of ground with horses with a hand plough.”

Mr Poole described farming as now being one mad rush all of the time.

"They're flogging the good ground and that wouldn't happen years ago because we didn't have irrigation,” he said.

"We would have to just wait to rain before you could work a piece of ground.

"We'd hope to get rain at a certain time of year to plant the crop, if we didn't get the rain we couldn't plant.”

Mr Poole lost his first wife, but later met a lady from Toowoomba and made the move up the range. He lived there for 30 years until making the move back down to Laidley with her.

"We came down here because she fell ill, she was with me for two years then we put her in the home. She was there for five years, and I'd go down there every day to help, but now she's gone,” he said.

"I love being able to still play bowls every week, my mate Jim makes all this possible.”


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