SOUTH PACIFIC BOWLS CARNIVAL
Max Donovan was born at Warrawong Hospital but he is the long-distance traveller of the Illawarra's South Pacific Carnival, having flown in from Western Australia to play in the singles tournament.
A former champion ten-pin bowler who bowled a perfect 300 game, Donovan lived in Wollongong until 1994 before heading to Western Australia.
He only took up lawn bowls when he was 59, but after five years of his new favourite sport, he has enjoyed his first crack at the South Pacific.
"I've been coming home to see family and noticed how huge the South Pacific is," Max said.
"I thought, 'Well, next time I come back to Wollongong, I'll play in it since I'm now a bowler'.
"I played for NSW in ten-pin bowling and for 15 years played in their big event known as the South Pacific but now I've tried the South Pacific bowls event."
Known by his friends as Darth Vadar, Donovan speaks through a tube in his mouth after beating throat cancer 27 years ago.
"I don't mind being called Darth Vadar, it suits me."
Since he has taken up bowls, Donovan has progressed through the grades at the Kalamunda Bowling Club in Western Australia.
And though Donovan didn't make it through his singles section in the South Pacific at Figtree RSL BC, it was another visitor, Taren Point's Murray Chapman, who advanced to the post-sectional round.
Having no expectations about how he'd go in his first carnival, Donovan was just glad to get the opportunity to play.
"I didn't know anything about the other players in my section, so I was happy to have given my best.
"Bowls in Western Australia isn't as strong as in NSW, so I really don't know what standard I am compared to the South Pacific bowlers.
"But it's a huge tournament and I'm really glad to play in it."
And after travelling more than 4000 kilometres back to his home town of more than 40 years, Donovan says the carnival is a great way to enjoy the New Year's break.