Much has been written over the years, on the history of our Rotary Club which now appears to be lost, destroyed or misplaced.
The Club was founded on 24th November 1982, sponsored by the Rotary Club of South Perth. A list of the foundation members is noted in the Club’s Webpage and Facebook pages, with one foundation member, Bob Shadbolt currently active. At the first held meeting, in the then Freeway Motel (Mill Point Road) there were three additional Club Members present, David Milne (since deceased), David Cowley, no longer a Club Member and Walter Hunter, still a Club Member.
Based on Rotary International’s then guide lines, the Club set about establishing itself under the guidance of the first Club President, Ed Richie, an experienced Rotarian, having been in the South Perth Club for many years. Club vocational visits and also the Club’s weekends away, which are social ‘get together’ events, started in 1984. This was slow to catch on, but over the years has become a near annual event to various parts of the State and usually but not always, within a couple of hours driving distance of Perth.
Over the last 38 years at our Monday night meetings, apart from a lot of good camaraderie and a bit of toil and labour the Club has had its fair share of highlights and memorable moments. A few Club events or anecdotes stand out, some of which are memorable and some best forgotten, but never the less are worthy of relating:
.1 Southern Cross Water fountain feature on Mounts Bay Road opposite the Mounts Bay Hospital
2. Trees planted in Hayman Road, where road converted to dual carriageway.
3. Trees planted west side freeway, southern end metro area
4. Yearly weekends away, a social occasion. We have a list of venues visited. See Facebook and Webpage.
5. Established the Annual Classic Car Show at Wesley College, every October. A community and fund raising event. To date, the car show has been our main fundraiser and allowed all members to participate in running the show.
6. ‘Blind’ tandem cycle race, food and marshalling.
7. Provided Marshals to Graham Farmer Tunnel opening 22.04.00
8. Cleaned up/planted trees after Hebiton’s (original) house destroyed by bushfire, at Wooraloo.
9 Gave ‘Foodbank‘ a large enclosed trailer; Rotary wheel and words ‘Rotary Club of Como’ on both sides.
10. Started the South Perth Fair, subsequently taken over by South Perth Council to become the ‘Fiesta’. Held on Sir James Mitchell Park, corner of Mill Point Road and Coode Street.
11. Started the Australia Day breakfasts in conjunction with the South Perth Rotary Club. Taken over by the South Perth Council.
12. Annual Christmas Carols night and BBQ at the Hardwick’s and Valentine nights at the Garmony’s or Koehler’s.
13. Fund raising garage sales, not currently being held.
14. Tree planting in Quairading as a bush rehabilitation project. Invited by the local Rotary Club as a weekend away. Many members locked out of the hotel.
15. Annual Christmas Parties with humorous often hysterical entertainment carried out by Club Members. One Club Member reciting Stanley Holloway skits.
16. Club’s Annual Picnic / BBQ at the Hebiton’s country retreat at Gidgegannup.
17. Ran a Los Chasquis (South American) concert in 1992.
18. Held several fashion parades at the Manning Bowling Club.
19. Held several “Pot Luck” dinners at various members’ homes.
20. Established the Como Probus club and the Womens’ Probus Club in 1982/83.
21. Numerous hostings of Group Study Exchange students and sending out students to various overseas locations.
22. Numerous hostings of International Exchange students (16 to 18 years of age) and sending out students to various overseas locations.
23. Undertook a Solomon Island project in 1986/87, the first of many overseas aid projects (Bali, Timor Leste, Uganda), mainly involving water projects or clothing and goods.
23. Supported many Rotary Projects including RYLA, RYPEN, HANDICAMP, AUSTRALIAN ROTARY HEALTY and POLIO PLUS.
24. A 5 year support to NGALA to fund training of staff.
25. Red Cross and Salvation door knock appeals.
26. Esther Foundation supported for a number of years.
27. Initiated, managed and completed a fund raising project for a new school bus for the Carson Street Special School. The Carson Street Sewing/craft group (mainly lady Rotarians or partners of Rotarians) assisted in fund raising.
28. Assisted various charities in Western Australia, Australia and overseas and ran various BBQ’s for MNDWA, South Perth Fiesta, Polo on the Park and have undertaken many Bunnings BBQ’s as general fundraising.
29. Assisted in the “Poo” Drive (selling fertilisers) of the Collier Primary School.
30. Ran the “Containers for Timor Leste” for many years.
31. Assisted in setting up the South Perth Toy Library.
32. Supported the National Science Summer School programme for year 11 students.
- Collected aluminium cans as a fund raiser - not good. Club Member John Berryman lost a very expensive gold watch in the can cage and Ian Anson’s dalliance with a lady cougar.
- Collected newspapers, door to door for recycling - not flash.
- One of our early weekends away at Busselton, the Motel we were staying in had an appealing pool, which drew quite a few of us in - leaving bathers and towels nearby. The Club’s President of the moment’s wife, duly collected bathers and towels leaving the swimmers to make their own way back to their respective Units.
- On one weekend we went to Kalgoorlie on the train. We left mid-afternoon and had dinner on board. The lady who served the dinner was extremely upset because we wouldn’t stay in our seats and then even more distressed when we drank absolutely all of the Port carried on board. On arrival in Kalgoorlie, late at night, it transpired that our booking at the Hotel had been misplaced and no accommodation was available. After great kerfuffle we found alternative accommodation for the first night of our stay returning to the Hotel for the second night. It was a most interesting week away in spite of that.
- Board Meetings of earlier years were held monthly (religiously) after the Club Meeting and seldom finished before 11.30 p.m.
- We used to open the meeting with a song, selected from a Rotary Song Book which we put together. We still have the Song Books but no longer sing. Perhaps a reflection of the vocal skills of our Club. JVD known as the worst singer. On becoming a club member in November 1985 (‘sacked” as song master after 4 weeks.
- Many years ago the Club President of that year, simply walked out after opening the Meeting (January), never to be seen again. It was over some social misunderstanding.
- Many years ago, the immediate past President of the Club, who held some history files, got upset over something or other, changed Clubs and left the history files on the street verge for rubbish collection.
CLUB MEETING VENUES
The Como / South Perth District has many restaurants, however, few have private areas for our exclusive use on a Monday night. Having been involved with most of the changes of venue, there are several issues to be considered;
- Our Club requires a separate room / area, free from the public, for Rotary procedures and speakers.
- The venue should be regionally close to the suburb of Como.
- Parking to be available.
- Table service and bar facilities.
- A degree of flexibility of numbers.
- Some storage facilities at hand, for Club regalia.
- A congenial ambience for a jovial meeting.
THE HISTORY OF OUR MEETING VENUES
The charter meeting was held at the Freeway Motel, Mill Point Road, South Perth (redeveloped many years ago).
First permanent venue:
A small restaurant in the Como Hotel, before the hotel was painted in the current psychedelic colours. The restaurant was run by Andrew and Elaine who served lovely meals but eventually left to open an upmarket restaurant in Subiaco. Because the restaurant closed we relocated during the Rotary year ’89 - ’90.
Waterford Tavern, on Manning Road in Waterford. Our meetings were not without a sense of drama - chef not turning up - grills being lowered at the door for security - setting up a roster to patrol our cars and more. It was all too much, so we relocated in the Rotary year ’92-’93 4.
Short try at Frenchie’s, Melville Parade, proved unsuccessful as the public were in attendance.
Rhodes Motel, Mill Point Road, South Perth, now converted into apartments. Initially, food and the service was good, with a slight Balinese influence. There was a general deterioration of food and facility, so we left during the Rotary year ’98-’99
Hillcrest Restaurant, (Westos) Canning Highway, South Perth, for a short period. Service was Buffet style, not suitable for running a Club meeting, we relocated in Rotary year ’00-’01 7.
Rosie O’Grady’s restaurant in the lovely old Art Deco Hurlingham Hotel, on Canning Highway, South Perth. We were located upstairs, on a split level basis and offered lovely views of the city. It became clear that the Hotel was earmarked for development. Time to leave, Rotary year ’02-’03.
Current venue (from 2016) is the Royal Perth Golf Club, Labouchere Road, South Perth, which ticks most of the boxes. It serves us well as a club, with ample close-by parking, flexible for expanded meetings such as Change Over Dinners, Christmas Functions etc. Hope we can stay to enjoy the ‘Club like’ venue and good catering.
TRIVIA AND OTHER MATTERS OF INTEREST
One of the seldom mentioned highlights of our Club, was the introduction of lady Members. The first lady to join our Club was Noel Gregory followed by Janet Mann and Pat Pinkus, in 1994. The original Rotary International membership conditions made no reference to gender. Therefore, for a club to be all male, all female or of mixed gender, required individual Clubs ruling, by a 2/3 majority, to clarify the hitherto unmentioned question of gender. This Club process now seems convoluted and weird, when viewed with the benefit of hindsight. As at 30 June 2021, 19 of the 45 members are female.
One item of interest and often good humour, is the ‘fines session’. Club members have been asked to advise what they consider the most notable fines, over the years and some are listed below:
- One of our Club members drove a short distance from home to do some shopping. On his return from a business trip to the Eastern States, he couldn’t find his car or his golf clubs which were in the car boot. Reported it stolen and then then twigged that he had left the car at the shops for 5 days complete with clubs in the boot!
- One of our Club members decided to weed an area of his garden and sensibly, got a milk crate to sit on, so as not to bend down all the time. The crate was the wrong way up, which he sat into, with feet sticking up in the air. He needed help to recover his standing position and pride!
- Another of our Club members couldn’t find his wallet to pay for a couple of coffees. Decided it must be lost on the bus, so rang the bus company to get them to check the bus floor. No luck, searched both bus stops, his wife searched the house, no luck. His wallet was found in the other back pocket of his trousers.
- One of our Club members tried to start his lawn mower on their sloping driveway. It wouldn’t start but caught fire and rolled down their driveway towards his wife, who managed to jump clear of the fire-y mower.
- And then there was the incident when a new member joined the Club on an outing by train to a restaurant in Joondalup. After the meal, everyone in a jovial mood assembled at the train station for the ride back to Perth. On a whim, everyone but the new member who had not yet descended to the platform boarded an outbound train to the Currambine station; then the end of the line and remained on board for the return journey. Few us were privy to what thoughts went through the new member’s mind when he discovered the empty platform when he finally did get there and then his surprise when the train to Perth with our mob already on board arrived.
Over the years, Club members, as a whole, receive fines for serious misdemeanours, such as barracking for the winning or losing football team or cricket team; buying the wrong or right new car; having a holiday, a birthday or any other sort of excuse. They are fined a dollar or two by the Fines Master of the moment.
All good fun, light hearted and raising a few dollars to be added to the Club’s coffers.
George Sharp (since deceased) was the Club’s first District Governor and in 2020/21, Colin Burns a club member became the District Governor.
Hosted the 1991 District Conference and in 2021 assisted in the administration of the 2021 District Conference.
An engineer member came up with the name for spouses/partners of Club Members – SEU’s or Spouse Equivalent Units.
Des Killick (since deceased) a long term member of the Club, bequeathed $25,000 to the Club to support youth scholarships.
Over the past 2 years there has been a number of changes how we run the Club each Monday night:
- No songs
- No toast to Queen and the picture of the Queen and the Australian flag now electronic;
- No banners (a since deceased member, David Milne used to meticulously look after the banners); and
- Changes to the introduction and end of the meeting.
In the year ended 30 June 2021, we had our first Joint Presidents (normally only one President annually) and they were sisters (Clem and Adelaide Koehler).
From 1 July 2021, instead of the President chairing Monday night meetings, each member takes a turn in chairing a meeting. Thanks to Walter Hunter, Kingsley Hebiton (deceased), Bob Shadbolt and John Van Dieren for input into this history of the Club summary.