by Jack Lawrie
A LIFE member of the Monto Bowls Club, Kev Herbener can remember the earliest days.
With a copy of the original meeting minutes from 1953 in his possession and a portrait hanging prominently on the club wall, Mr Herbener, 88, is an elder statesman of the bowls club.
Mr Herbener's bowls career properly started in 1969, but he was there for the original opening of the club.
According to him, the club was founded by the town's businessmen and didn't get active until 1954.
Around that time, he had come back to town from Brisbane, where he attended Brisbane Boys' College and went into business with his parents for the next 16 years.
That year Mr Herbener was made a member of the club, he said.
"The bank manager took a membership fee out of my bank account and told me I was a member,” he said, chuckling at the recollection.
"I was too busy: I was a young man in those days so I only really started in 1969.”
In those days, he recalls, the Monto Bowls Club didn't pay wages to maintain it, relying exclusively on volunteering from members.
That changed over time, around the time Mr Herbener was becoming more involved with the club.
His passion for bowls extended from a love of sport in general, dating back to his school years.
He played tennis, cricket and football, taking training scholarships to Gayndah and Gladstone.
"We were in a good sporting town, very much so,” he said.
In 1973 he became secretary of the club and held the position for four years.
He went on to become a big wig when the North and South Burnett formed a combined district.
As secretary of the Monto Club, he became inaugural secretary of the combined group, with the understanding that he would eventually trade roles with the president from Murgon.
At the time, he was also delegate to Royal Queensland Bowls, and went on to become president of Queensland Bowls Australia.
Since then, he has retired, both from sport and from work in general, having sold his parents' share of the business.
He retired 20 years ago at 68, something that would be unthinkable for most, but insists he wouldn't have done it any earlier.
"Retirement age was 60, my wife wanted me to retire but I wouldn't do it,” he said.