Bowling alley, games arcade, dodges: Iconic Townsville tenpin and fun centre sold

The complex has enjoyed a resurgence in families exploring their own backyard after the Covid-19 lockdowns last year

Strike! The iconic Townsville Tenpin and Fun Centre has a new owner, and the business could soon get a new spring in its step.

The centre, which has 24 bowling lanes, a commercial kitchen, cafe, squash courts, a full-size dodgem car track, a games arcade, childrens playground, a jumping castle, slide and birthday party areas, sold for “just over $2 million” last month to two business partners who run trampoline parks in Brisbane.

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The bowling alley

The 2464 sqm complex sits on a huge 6474 sqm block of land in Kirwan, and changed hands after 1416 days on the market, according to CoreLogic property records.

Dodgem cars

But it was Troy Townsend of Ray White Commercial Townsville that was finally able to strike the deal, meaning that after 29 years running the business, owner Noel Ambler can finally semi-retire.

“I’m in Stanley (Tasmania) now, enjoying lunch,” Mr Ambler said, adding that they were touring in their caravan but still had their other tenpin bowling centre in Bundaberg.

The property has only ever had two owners, with the Ambler’s buying the property 29 years ago, and running the business for the last 11 years.

“When we bought it, it had a function room and we were still hosting bingo and dance classes,” he said.

“A lot of our older customers remember attending weddings. It has a lot of history having been built in 1978.”

The complex is well-known in Townsville

Mr Ambler said the squash courts and bowling alley had always been a staple of the business, which took a knock during Covid-19 lockdowns last year.

But he said once restrictions lifted, there was a resurgence in families coming through the doors, as locals looked to enjoy a more simpler, family-focused life.

“It has taken time to get the business back up to a state where it is a good business to sell,” he said.

“We were closed for three months and it took a while to get that momentum up but over the last few months, business has been very good, the best its probably ever been.”

The cafe has a retro feel

Looking back, Mr Ambler said one of his fondest memories was hosting the Queensland Tenpin Bowling Disability Titles in the early days of the business.

He said many of those same players had become regular customers.

The games arcade and childrens play area

And there have been some well-known faces come through the door, including the Canberra Raiders and even Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston.

“JT and the family were on the dodgems,” Mr Ambler said.

There were some other famous faces that have played at the centre, Mr Ambler said, adding “I have no idea who they were, bands that were playing in Townsville I think”.

“After having a business like this for 29 years, you build up a real affinity with the customers and the community,” he said.

“I have always been a firm believer that to succeed, you have to be a part of the community.”

The squash courts

The new owners are two business partners who run trampoline parks in Brisbane.

Mr Townsend said the duo intended to re-do the roof, modernise the facilities, add some new attractions and revamp the cafe and restaurant.

“It is such a unique property,” he said. “We marketed it for four years before we could find someone to take it on … it is a 4000 sqm building on like two acres of land which is massive.

“It just shows that there is a bum for every seat.”