Our beginnings

The first recorded meeting of the Cairns Rotary Club was held at the Strand Hotel on Thursday 8th September, 1929.

First officers

The following officers were elected: President A.L. Nevitt, Secretary J.N. Tennant, Treasurer W.J. Stillman, Vice President W.H.J. Mayers, Directors M. Anderson, G.D. Gummow, D.W. Olley, Sgt. of Arms G.A. Remilton

Our club was involved in many fund raising activities. much practical assistance to the various branches of the Australian and U.S.A. forces and had the privilege of getting to know some very interesting and important high ranking officers and men from these forces.

From lunch to dinner

At a meeting held on 30th April, 1930, it was decided to alter the meetings from luncheon to evenings, to be held each Thursday at 6.30 p.m.

New meeting location

The 1st July, 1930 meeting decided to  change the place of meetings from the Strand Hotel to the Motor Boat Club. Rental for use of same, seven shillings and sixpence per week.

  • At the meeting of 29th July, 1930, it was resolved to ask the Chamber of Commerce to push several local projects such as the Innisfail Road, the Aerodrome site, Kuranda Road; none of these were talking points at this time.

  • Townsville Rotary Club advised us they would be visiting Cairns on 15th August re presentation of the Charter to Cairns Club.

  • The first donation to charity was ten pounds on the 20th October, 1930, to the Cairns Benevolent Society. This was later increased to one hundred pounds with hope of reaching two hundred pounds.

  • Queensland's Governor, His Excellency Sir John Goodwin K.C.M.G  honoured the club with a visit at a special dinner meeting on Wednesday 25th June, 1931

  • The late Rotarian Geo.D, Gummow was elected the second president of Cairns Rotary on the 7th July, 1931. At a meeting held on the 26th August, 1931, it was suggested that we assist in the formation of a Rotary Club of Atherton. On the 1st October, 1931, we had the first visit of a Rotary Governor. His name was Fred Burley of Burlei Corset fame.

  • On the 15th June, 1932, a request was made to the Motor Boat Club for a reduction in the rental. They agreed and reduced it to ten pounds per annum. Rotarian H.K.N. MacDonnell was elected president on the 4th July, 1932. Henry MacDonnelll was the last of the foundation members of our club; he passed away in 1978.

  • On the 8th February, 1934, Cairns Club agreed to explore the possibility of forming  a Rotary Club at Innisfail.

  • The club, on the 4th June, 1935 , advised the Pacific Hotel that members were agreeable to a charge of two shillings and sixpence for the evening meal. Past President Tom Collis was admitted to membership on the 7th October, 1935, and still has regular attendance today (1980,Ed.), 45 years later.

  • At a meeting on the 21st May, 1936, it was decided that club officers be appointed by a Nominating Committee. On the 7th September, 1936, a survey of unemployed youth was conducted and the club decided to make this matter an important project in the forthcoming year. At the same meeting a complaint was made that the food at meetings was "scantly" and the fruit salad had been dispensed with. It was left in the hands of the secretary to confer with the caterers.

  • On the 2nd February, 1937, a letter was received from new Rotary District Governor, Inglis Robertson re his expected official visit in June. At this time his district comprised the whole of Australia. Also at the same meeting we had a report on the successful Rotary Goodwill visit to Japan on the ship S.S. Taiping. Included in the Rotarians making the trip were three of our members, the late Chas. Woodward, Geo. Griffiths and Horrie Podosky.

  • On the 23rd February,1937, Cairns Rotarians entertained the several hundred Rotarians and wives on board the "Taiping" when the vessel called into Cairns on its way home. The late Sir Angus Mithchell was the leader of the touring Rotarians and expressed thanks to the Cairns Rotarians for the way the travellers were entertained during their brief stay in our city. At a meeting on the 9th August, 1937, it was decided to officially sponsor a Rotary Club at Innisfail and to assist in every way in its formation. 3rd May, 1938: District Governor for the year 1938 advised of his intended official visit to our club and to discuss the formation of an Innisfail Club.

  • Past President Francis Ireland's application was received on the 7th February, 1938, and he was accepted with the classification of "Automobile Retailing". There was no such thing as an induction ceremony at this time.

  • On the 11th May, 1938, a letter was received from the proprietors of the Pacific Hotel, giving notice that our club would have to find another meeting place. The reason was that if the Pacific was not good enough for our District Governor we could find somewhere else to meet. Later, a deputation waited on the proprietor and it was agreed that we stay on at the Pacific but at an increase of sixpence per meal.

  • At the meeting of the 13th October, 1938, the Bursary Fund was discussed. It was decided that our club continue to assist Mr Chester Parker to complete his university studies. Upon graduating , Mr Parker joined the Australian Navy when Australia became involved in the 1939-45 war. He joined the submarine section and unfortunately was killed while in action in a naval battle.

  • Minute books dating from October 1938 to October 1946 unfortunately have been lost. This is extremely sad because the period covers the whole Second World War and our club went through some of its most interesting activities and experiences during that time.

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75th Anniverasay 1930-2005 Rotary Club of Cairns

It is the Rotary ideal that a man's business is the best and truest expression of the man. The character of the membership of Rotary clubs must be kept high because from the membership of Rotary clubs come your friends and mine."

Layne Gardiner, President 2004-2005

  • The years 139 to 1945 were very difficult for the club, especially the period of war. Members found it necessary to devote longer hours to their businesses due to staff being on active service, but despite this difficult situation all members were actively engaged on various patriotic committees. The arrival of the American army and naval forces in the Cairns area gave the club members opportunity to exercise the Fourth Object of Rotary (International Service). Most weekends members made themselves available to take off-duty servicemen on motor trips throughout the district. It was the club's pleasure to make Colonel A.Bell of the American Army, Commander W. Black  of the American Navy, and Commander N. Pixley of the R.A. Navy, honorary members of the club. We enjoyed their friendship over many weeks and on numerous occasions they were Speakers for the evening. With the return of the Ninth Australian Division to this area, President Tom Collis and club members realised recreational activities in the city were totally inadequate for so many personnel on leave. So, with the help of other organisations, a building was found in the city area and the "Union Jack Club" was formed, which proved a very popular meeting place. The most important club activity during the closing stages of war was Patriotic Carnival held on the Cairns foreshore. This was to raise money for wounded and sick servicemen and their dependants. The carnival proved a great success and raised approximately 7000 pounds.

  • In October 1946 it was resolved that Rotary should commence and identify itself with some work of a public nature so that is would become a material asset to the city and a lasting memorial to the Rotary movement. In the minutes of the Directors' meeting of 1946 it was recommended by the directors that we should purchase the buildings on Council property in Martyn Street, at a cost of 580 pounds. This was purchased so that they could be converted into a youth centre. A Mr & Mrs Murray and family were employed to look after the centre and Rotarians Francis Ireland and Arno Symons were delegated to make any necessary alterations to the centre to make it a viable proposition. The cost of such alterations was not to exceed 20 pounds. Francis Ireland was untiring in the development of the youth centre and gave valuable time and energy to the task of developing the centre into something of which the club can be proud. President Ken Guernsey, during his visit, was so impressed that shortly after his return to the States, we received a request from Rotary International to submit an article on the centre for publication in the Rotary Magazine.

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