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AUSTRALIAN

CLUB.

Century of History.

MANY FAMOUS MEMBERS.

By J. L. Williams.

To-morrow, the Australian Club will complete the 100th year of its exist- ence-the first club in Austialia lo do so It originated during that interest

ing period from December 6, 1837, when Lieutenant-Colonel Kenneth Snodgrass, C.B.. a hero of St.. Sebastian in the Peninsula War, acted as Governor of New South Wales. Sir Bicha rd Bourke, overruled by the Home Government in his removal of C. D. Riddell, the Colo- nial Treasurer, from membership of the Executive Council, had resigned the Governorship and left Australia, being succeeded, on February 24, 1838, by Sir George Gipps.

In that interval, the colony attained the agc of 50 years, and, although the population of Sydney wa.s only 20,000, and that of New South Wales less than 8B.000. some of the leading citizens decided to promote a resi- dential club "for the purpose of facilitating the social and literary intercourse of residente of the colonv, and for the general Interests of the country gentlemen."

On Mav 29 1836 five trustees and a com minee of fifteen were appointed and a club named the Austialian Club was foimaih established Alexandei McLeav formerh Colonial Secretary and later Speaker of the I/fgislative Council was chosen as nisi piesi

dent in which office he continued, foi ten veais In less than thiee months the mern Ivership had leached 110 and the Governoi

Sir George Gipps honoured the club bj be- coming Its pation

Early Members

Among the first members were moot of those distinguished in the administiatlve and naval and mllitarv sei vices the professions and commercial and pa«-foial pursuits To mention but a few there were Lieutenant Colonel Snodgiass freed of gubernatorial du- ties C D .Riddell still and for l8 jears longer Colonial Trea-mrei Edward Dea-s thomson Colonial secielary who was presi- dent of the club for 21 years Stuart Alex- ander Donaldson who in 1856 was chosen to be first Premier of the colon, under rcspon sible Government and Dr James Mitchell MLC fathei of David Scott Mitchell the lound?) of the Mitchell Library

Then theie weie Dr Sit John Jamison MLC Wm Montague Manning eiterwaidi Attorney General in the fiist and othei Min ¡stries Chief Fudge in Boulty and Chancel loi of tbe University Teience Aubiev Min

ray aftei wards Speakei of the Législative j Assemblv and Piesident of the Legislative j

Council John Hüben Plunkett formeilv Solicitai -Genera 1 and latei President of the Legislative Council Captain Phillip Parkei King BN son of Goieinor King Alexander Beiry MLC and Conrad Martens eminent In the world of art

It was nor long too befoie othei dist m guished men became membei« of the club John Bavley Darvall and Thomas Holt Soli ciloi Geneial and Colonial Treasurei respect

îvely m the first Ministry Su Thomas Mit- chell rheexploiei Henrj Watson Parkei the third- Premier J H Challis great benctac toi of the Uni.eiMty Dr William Bland Dr Nicholson afterwards Su Charles Nicholson AiWralias first baionet Speakei of the Legislative Council and Chancolloi of the University he helped to found here Robeit Lowe atteiwaid«. Viscount Sheibrooke and Chancelloi of the Exchequei In England Wil Ham Lawson explorei of the Blue Mountains and in 1848 on the nomination of Donaldson carne William Cha iles Wentwoith

The biographies of all these men would make blghlv interesting reading and to gethei would tell the hisioiy ot New South Wales in peihaps its most impoitam epoch

In 18il the Sydney Morning Heiald said lhat the club had done much towards abat

ing the violence of party feeling among the highei ordeis of the colony

In 1810 resident*« of New 7ealand weie ex eluded from honoiaiv membership of the club because New Zealand was then a de

pendency of New South Wales Thiee «.ears later the famous Challes Darwin was mide an bonoran member when he visited S\dnev in HMS Beagle

Tirst Club house

Foi s club house the commlriee in 1818 leased The Pultenei Hotel in Bent Stiect on the site opposite the "Metropole Hotel no« occupied by Dalget. s It was a three storied building with a veiandah oi balconle« lo each floor on the fionl and two sides ano it had an uninteuupteo new of Svrine« Cove and Port Macquarie

But though the site was excellent theie were diawback.-* In the building and it had to be closeo to membeis foi two months m 1819 while improvements weie made One source of rronble then wa" the latk of publie sewers But it Is i elated that the club bv influence got its drainage cameo donn into the Tank Stream at Bond Street wheie the AMP Society s building is now

Hi 18«*1 a portion of ihe club house was lit viith gas but the dining room temained lit with sperm oil lamps which veie the usual means of Illumination at this perlón

An early occisión of the committee was that the club Iii ely be blue coat with led stand up coilai and cuffs blue waistcoat black bieeches white _.toc-Jngs shoes and

buckles

Speaking of the club AS II was in the fifties one who was then a ro*-mbei said thal mern beis weie a dignified bod« The« all woie black fioclf coats top hats or tall white bea.ei hats Gloves wei« I hen quite the correct thing Manv of the senior members «voie .wallow-tailed black rloth coat« with white ties which weie worn all da* long

And it was a. requliement In those dar* thal Ihe ball poiter should binsh the gentlemen s hats before eight o eloet In the morning

?\c_ditional Clubs I

In 13n7 when the Australian Club had a raembeishlp of 300 and the rolonvs population had greatb increased H was considcied that the time had rome foi the establishment of anofhei club of a similai type and the Union Club was foimed tat**! came a number of other lesidential clubs- *>uch as the Reform the Athenaeum and the New South Wales

lo piovide foi the need« and convenience of theil members the Austiallan and Union clubs and other« have circled club bouses which have added iel*- mateilally to the adornment of Sjdney

tn its second vear the Mistialien Club dedded to undertake the building of a club- house foithwith but over half a ccnturv was to pass b»foie this decision was carried into effect In front of Che Pultenov was an open paddock exlendinf to Ibe bark of Govem ment House which stood at the piesent south- west coinei of Bridge and Phillip Sheets The club asked the Goveinoi to «eil ii about fhree-quaiters of an acre of this atea hut the Go.ernor 'a' unable to eomplv The rluh thereupon settled donn wheie it was Perhaps that was a good thin? Coi ultimatcb an exceptionally fine sue was acquired and an imposing building of red brick double piessed vas elected on It from designs of the late John Kirkpatrick rrom this site at the corner of Macquaile and Bent Sheets is obtained one of the finest views ovei the gairiens and haibour to North Head In the city

The new building «as occupied in Sepiem bei 1891 In l*.2fi additions weie made on the Rent Stiecl fiont in harmonv with the existing building notwithstanding the diffi eult\ of obtaining bneks of the same coloui

In 1398 the quaint old club-house arter being used bv the Government as quarters foi Svdnev Hospital nurses was -.old and de- molished to make vav foi Dalgetvs Svdne> lost not onlv a pictuiesque lehc but ilso a building which in the old davs had been the meeting-pHce of mo«t of the colony s

leaders

The club has had 12 piesidents whose name«* îecall much of New South Wales historv - Alexandei McLeav C D Riddell Sit E Deas Thomoon Sb William Macarthui Christopher Rolleston Phillip Gidley King E C Meiewethei Sir Prancis Suttoi H E Katei John A Anderson lames W Macaithui I Onslow and Mi W Deuchar Gordon of

Manar Taiago -who has held ofBce since

1936

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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