Brief History of Pétanque

The game of Boules originated in the south of France where it is called Pétanque, an alternative name for the game. An older game called ” Le Jeu Provencal ” was adapted to create the modern game, replacing a short running delivery with a fixed throwing position. This alteration to the rules greatly reduced the distance the boule could be thrown and allowed greater accuracy to be achieved. The smaller area needed for play made the game very versatile and playable almost anywhere.

One of the features of Pétanque is the amazing variety of the grounds that can be played on and the challenge of playing them. Independent of the need for fixed bowling grounds, the game quickly spread across France and into the rest of Europe where it now has a huge following all over the world.

History of Adelaide Hills Pétanque

In 1997 Barry Briand, who was then president of the Stirling Bowling Club, had the idea of starting a pétanque club, using a former green which had not been used by the Bowling Club for some time. He negotiated a lease arrangement with the Bowling Club for the use of the disused area, and, together with his daughter Kim and son-in-law Tim, spent some time clearing the area of weeds and grass, and laying it out with dolomite marked out as pistes. Aided by The Courier newspaper, who have been very supportive since its inception, Barry sought members for his new club, which was set up as the Stirling Pétanque Club, and began life with a membership list of about ten players. A representative from the Pétanque Club was allowed to attend the Bowling Club meetings.

It was decided to meet on Sunday mornings. Three games would be played, using an open draw system, with a break after the first game for morning tea and a bit of socialisation. As the club gained in strength, Peter Sharpe suggested that meetings be extended to Wednesday evenings during the summer months, with prizes provided for the winners each week. Some lighting was soon installed, and the event blossomed into a very successful competition. Today this competition still flourishes, attracting 50 or more people for six weeks before, and six weeks after a Christmas/New Year break.

Within a couple of years, as the PétanqueClub increased its membership, it became evident that the time would soon come when its path would diverge from that of the Bowling Club, which was having administrative difficulties. A search was begun to find other suitable premises; as it happened the Club did not have to look far afield, as there were two unused tennis courts available at the adjacent tennis club. Following an approach to the Adelaide Hills Council and several discussions with them, these courts, which are owned by the Council, were acquired and duly converted into pistes for the Pétanque Club’s use. An agreement was also reached with the Stirling Tennis Club to share their clubhouse on a sub-lease basis.

In 2002 the club changed its name to the Adelaide Hills Pétanque Club, reflecting the increasing range of its membership, and coinciding with their move to the new premises only 100 metres further south. Since then the area has been upgraded and transformed with landscaping, native plants, a shed, lights and a pergola into a comfortable home for the Club. There are 16 marked pistes, offering two types of surface on which to play.

A new clubhouse has enhanced the opportunities for the club.

The Adelaide Hills Pétanque Club is an affiliate member of the SA Pétanque League, with two members attending League meetings and currently fourteen people competing in League matches. We participate in the League’s annual calendar of events, and League days in the hills are always enjoyed by League members from other clubs.

The activities of the Club are still expanding, not just within the Club itself, but also into the community. We have on several occasions held pétanque workshops at primary schools in the surrounding area. The Sunday morning, Wednesday morning and Wednesday night competitions are a popular community activity. Visitors are always very welcome, and Club boules are available for the use of anyone who wants to become familiar with the game before committing themselves to outlaying funds on their own equipment. The club has grown into a prosperous organisation whose members appreciate and enjoy the atmosphere of friendliness and camaradie which surrounds all games and the social functions which the Club holds throughout the year.