A lifetime in the fast lane: decades of tenpin bowling
JOHN Griffin remembers the summer of 1979 like it was yesterday.
Butts Shopping Centre was where the Big Top Shopping Centre is now located, Aerodrome Rd and Alexandra Pde had next to no kerb and channel and Malcolm Fraser was our prime minister.
It also marked the arrival of a bowling alley.
Husband and wife team, John and Sue, bought some "low, swampy" land from the old Presbyterian church in Alexandra Headland and a year later, Suncity Bowl was formed.
With the help of a local rugby league team, lured in with beers, the wooden boards were carried in, laying the foundations of what will become a business of 40 years.
In July, they'll reach that historic milestone.
"I remember it was a wet day and we pulled in and just parked on the grass, where the Aquarius Resort is now," Mr Griffin said.
"I'd worked at AMF Bowling on the Tweed Coast before that for 10 years, but wanted to do my own thing.
"It was either bowling or tennis, and I wasn't that good at tennis."
While the decision to come to the Sunshine Coast was carefully planned, it was down to two options - Launceston, at the time was a much larger city.
"The Coast's growth rate was what drove us in, and I'm glad it did," he said.
"The whole Coast has gone from this sleepy place to a throbbing one.
"Back then the Coast would die when it wasn't holiday time. You'd have very few people, then it would be swarming.
"If it was raining, we could go from being empty to smashed in minutes. They'd come off the beaches in droves."
These days the number of league bowlers, once the club's stable clientele, have been replaced with social bowlers.
The Griffins know that is part and parcel of the industry and have formed lasting friendships with one of their regulars.
Throughout its almost four-decade lifespan, Suncity Bowl has operated with wooden lanes, which are being upgraded with the latest synthetic technology.
Mr Griffin knows change is inevitable but it comes with a sense of sadness.
"I'd much prefer to bowl on wood, but it's not really possible any more, the cost would be prohibitive," Mr Griffin, who bowled the Coast's first 300, said.
"The timber lanes are made one board at a time, they're classics, but so difficult to maintain.
"Our lanes were amongst the last of wooden lanes in the country.
"With synthetic the costs involved are so much lower, it will really help."