City of Sydney bans wine bar petanque game after noise complaints

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Clinking noises are usually associated with restaurants and bars, where the collision of glassware, cutlery and plates is virtually unavoidable.

Key points: 

  • The French game petanque is similar to bocce or lawn bowls, but the balls are metal
  • The City of Sydney banned the game at Black Bottle wine bar after somebody complained about the noise
  • The council said it hoped to find a solution that “satisfies all parties”

However, the clinking emanating from one Sydney venue has been ruled too “irritating” for local residents, forcing its owners to curb their patrons’ behaviour.

The noise came not from the kitchen, but during the French game petanque, which was played in the bar’s courtyard until the City of Sydney Council banned it.

The game, similar to bocce, requires players to throw metal balls towards a target.

It was introduced to the Black Bottle wine bar at Darlinghurst by its owners, who grew up playing the game in the south of France.

“We wanted to bring a bit of France to Sydney,” owner Marc Tricot said.

He and co-owner Lucas Cristofle built a small sandpit in the courtyard and encouraged customers to play, while enjoying a glass of wine.

However, not everyone enjoyed it.

The City of Sydney banned the game, after somebody complained about the sound of the metal balls colliding, but said it hoped to find a solution that “satisfies all parties”.

“It was said to be irritating,” City of Sydney councillor Jess Scully said.

“The city is investigating that complaint and also the direction provided.”

A man sits on a small wall with small metal balls on the ground and in his hands.

‘What harm does this cause?’

Mr Tricot said he could not believe the complaint, but had to take it seriously.

“If [we’re] annoying people around [us], we need to know,” he said.

However, he said local residents needed to understand that noise was a by-product of people enjoying themselves.

“It’s the only way to keep a community alive. You need residents … but you need bars and restaurants as well.”

Metal balls inside a box.

On Tuesday night, Mr Tricot and some customers played a final game of petanque, before packing the set away for good.

“What harm does this cause?” Megan Barber, who was among those playing, said. 

“You’ve heard the noise. It’s not loud at all.”

Cr Scully said council officers had no choice but to respond to the noise complaint.

“They actually don’t have that much discretion about how they apply or enforce the conditions of consent,” she said.

A woman sits at a table with a small candle in front of her.

She said the issue highlighted the need for a “one-stop shop” to determine and enforce “reasonable” noise levels across the state.

“We want to have activity [like] restaurants, bars, performance … but sometimes people have expectations of serenity that maybe don’t match their urban context,” she said.

“What we really need is a consistency of approach to dealing with noise in NSW.”

The entrance to a building with a sign saying black bottle on the wall.