A Pub With No Fear – The Miller Park Story

by Billy Johnson

Off the New England Highway in Branxton sits Miller Park Sports and Recreation Hotel, a pub that recently reopened its doors to locals. Over the Australia Day public holiday, they held an open day to showcase the venue’s refreshed design, modern layout and their new state-of-the-art synthetic green.

That’s right. A pub, with a fully functioning bowling green.

It was a sight that bemused some visitors as they strolled out to view the surface. “Why would a pub need a bowling green?” “Surely, they can’t have this here.” To Dale McNamara, the new owner of Miller Park, hearing these comments are like water off a duck’s back. The Singleton businessman, who has an extensive property portfolio, knew exactly what his vision was for Miller Park.

“People said I couldn’t put a bowling green on a pub, but here we are.”

As a crowd of locals gathered around outside for the official opening of the green, Dale took the opportunity to speak about the reaffiliation of Miller Park Bowling Club and acknowledge the efforts of the many people who had helped get the Club back to where it is today.

Key to the successful reaffiliation of the club was Dale’s right-hand man, Glen Cliff. Glen currently serves as the Hotel Manager, Club President and Bowls Coordinator. If that wasn’t enough, he also spearheaded the steering committee to get Miller Park BC reaffiliated. For Glen, the official opening of the green was a particularly meaningful moment – it represented months of hard work and dedication.

“It all started on the tailgate of a ute. I met up with Peter Fuller one night to discuss how to put the bowling club back together.” From that conversation, Glen went straight to his local RBM Craig Donaldson for assistance. What followed was a series of phone calls, zoom chats and conversations between Glen, Craig, Zone 6 administrators and Bowls NSW CEO’s Anne Johns and Greg Helm to get the club up and running. COVID restrictions and shutdowns posed an extra challenge, but Glen remained undeterred and in time the reaffiliation was approved.

Reflecting on the reaffiliation process, Glen was full of praise for Craig Donaldson. “Craig went above and beyond for me. I would call and he would always answer. Every time he was willing to help out, I can’t say enough good things about him. He was our rock.” Together with Craig and Bowls NSW, the reaffiliation was successful.

Miller Park has also been blown away by the support they have received from other clubs, including Guildford BC who donated scoreboards for the new green. New mats and jacks have been ordered and shade cloths still need to be installed, but if you ask any of the bowling members, they will tell you with a great sense of pride that Miller Park BC is open and ready to roll.

That same pride is just as evident in Dale, who understands the community impact of having an operational bowling club. “Having the bowling green and club is about family and community, because without their support we can’t be here. We give back to those who have given us so much.”

If you’d like to check out the venue for yourself, visit the Miller Park Hotel Facebook page for more information.

If your club requires assistance, contact your local RBM here.