History of the Rotary Club of Brisbane

Histories and Historical Document Downloads

A Themed History of the Rotary Club of Brisbane Inc. 1923-2016

Author PP Dr Keith Watts 21/05/2015   Revised 24/8/2016


The Club was chartered on 29 May 1923 with a membership of 16. The Charter President was Peter B Macgregor – a leading Barrister at the time.

The Club has been responsible for the sponsoring of the following Clubs: Mackay and Townsville in 1926-27 (with the involvement of Immediate Past President Tom McWilliam in conjunction with Rotary Commissioner Sir Henry Braddon of Sydney Rotary Club), Ipswich, Bundaberg (1929-30), Toowoomba, Maryborough, Lismore (1931-32), Fortitude Valley, South Brisbane, Brisbane North, Brisbane West, Brisbane Mid-City.


During its history the club has carried out many outstanding projects, some of which are set out below by theme:

Youth Service Projects
  • 1959-60 Gundoo Week which later developed into RYLA, now a world-wide project of Rotary International. Sponsored RYLA students 2014 and earlier years.

  • Establishment of International House at the University of Queensland

  • 1977-78 Establishment of the Queensland organization of the Child Accident prevention Foundation of Australia. The Club gave $10,000 to this while individual Rotarians helped in raising an additional $60,000.

  • 1987-88 Construction of caretaker’s house/reception centre at Shaftsbury Citizenship Centre, for which $20,000 was put aside awaiting completion. The handover was made next year provided at a well-attended ceremony, following the provision of a further $5,000 to complete the building.

  • 1976-77 Rotaract Club formed

  • 2000-03 Rotaract Club of Brisbane City sponsorship and support including Rotaract Ball at World Convention 2003

  • 2014-15 Joint Sponsorship with other CBD Rotary clubs of establishment of Rotaract Club of Brisbane CBD

  • 2014-15 Joint Sponsorship of establishment of Rotaract Club of Brisbane Riverside2014-15 Refurbishment of Sundial (Brisbane Rotary & Rotaryanns project from 1979) at Petrie Terrace Special School

Service Projects for the Disabled
  • Establishment of the Queensland Society for Crippled Children, one of 6 established nationally by Rotary.
  • 1967-68 Establishment of Hilcom Limited – a workshop for the disabled, initially established in 1968 with $500,000 raised by the Rotary Club of Brisbane. It has since flourished and developed into the Help Foundation.
  • 1986-87 Provision of $20,000 to assist in the construction of a Therapeutic Pool Complex at the Montrose Home for Crippled Children.
  • Seed funding to Operation Kinder – Community project at Riverview.
  • 1980-81 The Pony Riding for the Disabled Association at Moggill had land and horses but not the means of keeping the place in good order. Equipment was provided for the maintenance of the land, together with a shed in which to house it. For this the club gave $2,500, which was subsidized 4:1 by the Commonwealth. An additional $2,500 was given towards the cost of operating, subsidized 1:1. Thus a total of $17,500 went to the association. More than 20 years on, the Association and its activities are in good shape (now McIntryre Centre Riding for the disabled).
  • 1991-92 Red Hill Special School, $13,000 towards the purchase of a bus to give outings to severely handicapped children.
  • 1995-96 Assisted in establishment of Vision Queensland to support vision impaired workers and raised $4,500 towards that.
  • 1978-79 Establishment of NADOW, the National Association of Disabled Office Workers. President John Woodhead who was very active in this and other things established the National Association for Disabled Office Workers (NADOW) ,which had arisen in Sydney), here in Brisbane. It continued successfully for some years and the club continued to provide some financial support.
  • 2006-09 Contributed substantial funds to the Canine Helpers Guide Dogs for the Disabled Association over 3 years.
Health and Safety Projects
  • 1977-78. The Queensland Surf Life Saving Association had been for decades providing an invaluable community service while living from hand to mouth in terms of finances. President Wal Bishop decided that Brisbane Rotary should and could establish a Foundation which would provide a sound financial base; one with sufficient capital to earn some regular income beyond that on which they depended. This was pursued with vigour and success, resulting in the establishment of a Queensland Surf Lifesaving Foundation with an initial investment of $107,000. This was achieved through a public appeal ($28,450), a Motor Car Art Union ($8,221), and a Miss Brisbane Rotary Quest ($21,669). There was a generous State Government subsidy of 75c.in the dollar.
  • 1974-75 Provision of a Mobile Canteen for the Salvation Army in 1975 following the 1974 floods in Brisbane
  • 1979-80 Establishment of the Queensland organization of the Child Accident prevention Foundation of Australia. The Club gave $10,000 to this while individual Rotarians helped in raising an additional $60,000.
  • 1991-92 Project joint with 20 other Rotary clubs. Furnished a unit at Wesley Rotary Lodge $7,000.
  • 1992-93 Donated medical equipment to Prince Charles Hospital and Honiara Hospital
  • 1994-95 Provided a mobile first aid caravan for Moreton Island ($22,500), handed over to a community group in 2014
  • 1995-96 Production of “Your Move” first aid adventure video
  • 2001-02 Joint project with the Rotary Clubs of Stones Corner and Brisbane High Rise for the Combined Brisbane Rotary Clubs Art Spectacular 2002 and we gained agreement to make the Salvation Army Mobile Kitchen project the major beneficiary of the Art Spectacular. On 24th June 2002, a cheque for $23,356 was presented to the Salvation Army for this project, representing 50% of the net proceeds. Our special thanks go to the Rotary Club of Stones Corner for offering us the opportunity to take part in the Art Spectacular 2000,
  • 2000-03 Charity golf days joint with and in support of Diabetes Australia
Service Projects for the Homeless
  • 1991-92 Teen Challenge, $16,000 for the provision of a van to help homeless street children;

  • 2001-02 At the start of the year the club saw the need for a shelter for homeless women and girls in the CBD, and budgeted $20,000 seed money to start this project. After the announcement at our first club assembly, we found that the Salvation Army and the Queensland Government had also seen this need, and the Salvation Army had plans prepared to convert one floor of “Pindari”, the Men’s Hostel in Spring Hill, to be a homeless women’s shelter. The board agreed to support this project, making it highest priority, and the three other CBD Rotary clubs also agreed to be involved, making it another joint project. The Queensland Government agreed to fund the conversion, with the four CBD Rotary clubs to organize the furnishings for the 19 rooms and the common facilities for the project, at a cost of $4,000 per room. The new shelter is scheduled to open in September 2002. The Rotary Club of Brisbane provided $8,400 for the project, including a $4,000 donation from Rotarian Sir Robert Mathers and $2,000 from the Receptions to mark the visit of the Matthew Flinders Bicentennial sailing ship Windward Bound hosted by the club, and from the Antique Fair 2002.

  • 2012-14 Provided scholarships and mentoring for homeless youth administrated by the Brisbane Homeless Youth Association over 3 years

  • 2014-15 Continued contribution to Brisbane Homeless Youth Services for a further 2 scholarships

  • 2013-18 Contribution and staffing “Eddies Van" providing breakfasts for homeless people. 5 yrs & ongoing

Community Service Projects
  • 1976-77. A new fund raiser was the Brisbane Rotary Art Show, held in the MLC Building and opened by the Governor. It raised $3,000 and Art Shows in various forms, at various locations but not every year, were to continue for some years.
  • 1984-85 Establishment (from Melbourne) of and resources for Bridging the Gap – Job Help Inc, a highly successful job help program.
  • 1985-85 Major project was upgrading of walking trails in Mt. Coot-tha Reserve under the Commonwealth Community Employment Program with substantial support from Brisbane City Council which also provided supervision. It employed 15 young workers and is estimated to have cost $235,000
  • 1988-89 Installed a time capsule in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens near the Edward St entrance to commemorate the Australian Bicentennial
  • 1992-93 to make a physical mark of Rotary’s presence in the city (we did not really have one, in spite of our many years here), a historical plaque was placed in South Bank, engraved with a view of the city skyline of 100 years earlier, to be seen in the direction of one’s view
  • 2000-01 Set up the Rotary Club of Brisbane Benevolent Foundation as a charitable trust and built up the funds in the foundation to support charitable works by the club through registered charities
  • 2001-02 Foodbank Queensland cold boxes and trailers project, with $2,500 raised through a fine wine raffle and donations, and presented to Foodbank Queensland in April 2002. This was put forward by President Mike Evans of the Rotary Club of Brisbane North, and became a joint project of the four Central Business District Rotary Clubs.
  • 2006-07 Hosted a gala charity dinner and appeal and raised $75,000 for support to communities devastated by Cyclone Larry in March 2006 and provided secondary school kits and university scholarships to students in the area.
  • 2011-12 As a Gold sponsor donated $25,000 for the Brisbane City Hall Restoration in 2012
  • Significant fund raising over many years through profitable wine sales projects
  • 2011-12 Obtained substantial contributions from sister clubs RC Charleston, South Carolina USA, Taipei Tatung, Taiwan and Kobe East, Japan to the 2011 D9600 Flood appeal together with own contributions
  • 2012-15 Developing a mentorship program for charities in need of support with a pilot program being developed in conjunction with Brisbane City Council.       The club is holding funds for this, including a $5,000 donation in 2012-13 from Rtn Clive Mormon.
  • 2013-15 Recommenced fundraising at over $10,000/year through annual charity golf days 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 plus BBQ fundraisers $3000 each.
  • 2014-15 Working up a joint program with Shaftsbury College to provide weaners to be raised at their Arethusa College Barambah Creek campus to provide training for students, profit for the college and benefit Foodbank.
  • 2014-15 Drought Funding South Burnett Farmers 2014 $5,000
  • 2014-15 Drought Funding Longreach Community Farmers 2015 $5,000
  • 2014-15 Provided volunteer marshalls at the Brisbane Centenary of Anzac March
  • 2014-15 Contributed funding to Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia of proceeds of Charity Golf Day 2015
International Service Projects
  • Started Donations in Kind (DIK) and provided continuous support as it expanded to District and Northern Region
  • 1992-93 Special grants obtained for a water tank, serum supply and other medical equipment for Aitape, Papua New Guinea
  • 1996-97 Death Adder vaccine provided to Ataipe Hospital, PNG, through former Rotarian Frank Evans, principal of St Ignatius secondary school
  • 2002-03 Hosted the 2003 RI World convention, commencing 1999 set up an incorporated association World Convention 2003 Inc to run a very successful convention
  • Sister Clubs and Matched Club formed:
  • 2000-01Matched Club with the Rotary Club of Port Moresby, D 9600 PNG
  • 2000-01 Rotary Club of Tsim Sha Tsui East, D 3450 Hong Kong
  • 2001-02 Rotary Club of Taipei Tatung, D3480 Taiwan
  • 2004-05 Rotary Club of Charleston, D 7770 USA
  • 2004-05 Rotary Club of Amsterdam-International D1580 The Netherlands
  • 2008-09 Rotary Club of Kobe East, D 2680 Japan
  • 2001-02 Joint project with sister club RC Tsim Sha Tsui contributing US $1,200 each for vocational tools and equipment for the Badili Vocational School, PNG. Half of this supported a matching grant application jointly with the Rotary Club of Boroko.
  • 2001-02 Joint project with matched Club the Rotary Club of Port Moresby in their portable school desks project, by agreeing to contribute $1,000 for the purchase of 200 desks.
  • 2001-02 President’s At-Home receptions for the visit of RI World President Bichai Rattakul and Directors and the formal signing ceremony of the sister club agreement with RC Taipei Tatung raised funds for the Rotary Foundation
  • In conjunction with PNG clubs, provided relief funds for affected communities from the Tsunami in PNG.
  • 2007-08 PNG Dental program $6,000
  • 2007-08 Support for Shelter Boxes program including $12,000 in this year.
  • 2004-05 matching grant with the Rotary Club of Las Heras, Argentina to purchase and install 2 classrooms of computers in a school community centre at Las Heras for teachers, students and members of the community to become computer-literate.
  • 2010-11 Continued support for the Rotary Foundation and since 2010 all members contribute $100/year as a centurion club
  • 2010-11 Earthquake aid in Japan US$3,000 sent thorough sister Club RC Kobe East.
  • 2013-14 International Service project in association with sister club RC Taipei Tatung Taiwan provided $5,000 for their 30th anniversary celebrations
Rotary Family Tree North Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands
  • 2002-03 As part of the Club’s 80th anniversary celebrations, culminating in an international dinner during World Convention 2003, the family tree showing all the branches of the family of Rotary clubs originating from the Rotary Club of Brisbane was developed and displayed at the World Convention 2003. This is designed to be printed on A4 sheets for each branch of the Rotary family.
  • 2012-13 The club celebrated its 90th anniversary at an international dinner attended by delegations from its international sister clubs in June 2013.

Constitution and Bylaws

  • 2011-12 Constitution 2010 and Bylaws adopted by the club and registered with the Office of Fair Trading
  • 2014-15 – Constitution 2013 and 2015 bylaws adopted by the club April 2015 and registered with the Office of Fair Trading dated 3 June 2015 and approved under the Collections Act 1966 on 3 June 2015, Organization No. CP0345.

Admission of Women into the club

  • 1989-90 Motion in favour of admitting women into the club was passed without dissent. Two female presidents so far.

RI Distinguished Club Awards in 2000-01 and 2001-02.

  • 2000-02 Awards were received both years.
  • 2001-02 Perhaps the most important outcome was to welcome 27 new members into the club, including a group induction of nine members on 27th May 2002. This was the culmination of our “Club within a Club” project, a very successful promotion. Mentors were appointed, and a New Member Retention and Mentoring Committee was set up to “love our new members to death” in fostering their introduction into the club. At year end 2001-02 the club had 100 active members and 10 honorary members.

Strategic planning, Vision and Core Values

  • Strategic planning in 1999 saw the adoption of a vision and core values for the club and experiment with a new business structure. This vision and core values remains the club’s ethos.


Our vision is for the Rotary Club of Brisbane to be high profile, dynamic service organization with the Brisbane Central Business District, actively involved in worthwhile community projects, which make a difference in the lives of all involved.

Core Values


We will operate in an ethical manner, displaying honesty and integrity in dealing with others, as reflected in the Rotary Four Way Test.

Leadership Image

Our corporate behavior will reflect the Club’s leadership role within the Rotary community in the CBD and District.


Club functions will be focused on CBD-specific and designated RI projects that will really make a difference in the lives of others.

Responsiveness to Members

Club services will respond to members’ needs and expectations, with support mechanisms available to members in need.


Members will be informed regularly of Club developments and community projects in which they can become involved.

Fun and Fellowship

Activities will be designed to inform, and provide members with fun, fellowship and social stimulation.


Members are encouraged to become actively involved in all aspects of Club life.


The Presidents

1923-24 P.B. Macgregor K.C. 1991-92 R.K. Hamburger A.M.
1924-25 P.B. Macgregor K.C. 1992-93 R.Barnwell
1925-26 T.M. McWilliam 1993-94 R. Boughen O.B.E.
1926-27 Prof. H.C. Richards 1994-95 J.P. Worrell
1927-28 F. de Witt Barry 1995-96 J. Blake
1928-29 R.C. Hancock ⃰ 1996-97 J. Puttick
1929-30 J.K Cannan 1997-98 Y.E. Levien
1930-31 PDG R.J. Allen 1998- Dr. G.I. Alexander A.O.
1931-32 T.J. Barry 1998-89 Dr. P.E. Ulrich
1932-33 W.K. McLuckie 1999-00 Dr. G.I. Alexander A.O.
1933-34 W.A. Jolly W.B. 2000-01 W.D. Hampton
1934-35 W.B.Darker ⃰ 2001-02 Dr. B. Carss
1935-36 S. Willmott 2002-03 Dr. K. W. Watts
1936-37 R.L.H. Peterson 2003-04 A. Gillespie
1937-38 Rev. P. Watson 2004-05  
1938-39 Dr. A.V. Meehan 2005-06  
1939-40 C.R. Christmas 2006-07  
1940-41 L.G. Hinwood 2007-08  
1941-42 M.S. Herring OBE 2008-09  
1942-43 J.H. Buckle 2009-10  
1943-44 H.W. Broad ⃰ 2010-11  
1944-45 H.W. Watson OBE 2011-12  
1945-46 J.W. Peden ⃰ 2012-13  
1946-47 F.J. Morgan 2013-14  
1947-48 H. Bryden 2014-15  
1948-49 A.A. Jackson CBE 2015-16  
1949-50 P.R.T. Wills 2016-  
1950-51 B. Flewell-Smith CBE 2016-17  
1951-52 B. Martin OBE ⃰ 2017-18  
1952-53 F.L. Bonney    
1953-54 Dr. N.L. Sherwood    
1954-55 W.R. Gilbert    
1955-56 G.H. Nelson ⃰    
1956-57 C.W. Bishop ⃰    
1957-58 W.R. McDonald    
1958-59 H.T. Lewis    
1959-60 Sir Arnold Bennett QC ⃰    
1960-61 H.J. Broad    
1961-62 E.T.Router MBE ⃰    
1962-63 A.R.Trist    
1963-64 A.R. Tritton    
1964-65 A.H. Blackman    
1965-66 H.S. Gresham    
1966-67 D.W. Picking    
1967-68 W.R.A McAlpine OAM    
1968-69 W.H.G. Best CBE    
1969-70 I.A. Wilson    
1970-71 B.D. Eggleton    
1971-72 F.J. Kennedy    
1972-73 K.J. Barry    
1973-74 W.A. Buettel    
1974-75 P.J. Self M.B.E    
1976-77 A.R. Kruger    
1977-78 A.H. Braby    
1978-79 W. Bishop    
1979-80 L.T. Padman O.B.E    
1980-81 M.A.K. Thompson    
1981-82 I.G. English O.B.E.    
1982-83 R.G. Conley A.M.    
1983-84 N.V. Hellen    
1984-85 H.F. Mitchell    
1986-87 J. Woodhead    
1987-88 S.D. Jolley    
1988-89 R.C.Palmer    
1989-90 Prof. G.L. Wilson    

⃰ Denotes later became District Governor




Paul Harris Fellows

1976 C. W. Bishop 1991 S. Francis
  M. W. Davies   F. Evans
  G. W. Martin   J Furby
  G. M. Martin (Mrs) 1992 L. Suggars (Mrs)
  H. S. Gresham   D. Ealding (Mrs)
1977 PDG J. W. Peden   C. Manning
  PDG C. Brand   M. Humfress
  PDG Sir Arnold Bennett   PP K. Hamburger AM
  E. L. Walpole   T. J. Carter
  H. C. Jenyns 1993 PP R. Barnwell (PHF +I)
  L. W. Finney   K. Benson
1978 A. H. Blackman   D. Charlton
  J. F. Love   R Dent
  J. Berry   C. Mann
1979 W. Bishop   PP W. D. Cunningham
  L. J. H. Teakle 1994 J. Delahunty
  W. R. A. McAlpine 1995 R. A. Bland
  PDG V. H. French   J. Jones (Mrs) J P
  A. J. Campbell   PP J. P. Worrell
1980 W. A. Buettel   PP Dr K. W. Watts
  G. D. Martin   J. Blake
  A. A. Jackson   PP P. Ulrich
1981 H. J. Broad   N. Dickson
  H. F. Lewis   G. Zietch
  D. W. Picking   G. Mulligan
1982 J. D. Router (Mrs) 1998 PP Y.E. Levien
  W. G. H. Best   J Torrance
  PDG I. A. Wilson 1999 PP G Alexander
1983 H. E. Sir James Ramsey   M Barnwell (Mrs.)
  C. Comie   J.F. Charlton
  A. H. Braby 2000 R.J. Esler
  M. B. Hoare   S.E. MacNish
  A. R. Kruger   T.N.Rigby
  PP L. T. Padman OBE 2001 T. Walker
  M. A. K. Thompson   M. Scott
1986 M. F. Peden (Mrs)   PP W.D. Hampton
  PP A.J. Gillespie   H. Milne
  Lady Bennett    
1987 K. J. Barry    
  PP Dr B. W. Carss    
  PP M.Carss    
  P.T. Barry    
  S.D. Jolly    
  W.J. E. Kerrison    
1988 J. D. Knight    
  H. F. Mitchell    
  J. A Wilson (Mrs)    
  J. Woodhead    
1989 A. J. Love    
  J. A. Menzies    
  D. L. Murchison    
  R.C. Palmer    
  D.P. R. Sellars    
  K.M. Shaw    
  P. Tikleas    
  J.W. Warham    
1990 M.L. McAlpine (Mrs)    
  eA.M. Sellars (Mrs)    
  PP P.J. Goldston AM    
  PP Prof G. L Wilson    
  A. R. White    
  PP R. K. Boughen    
  W. Bremner    
  M.M. Forde (Mrs)    
  R. T. Francis    
  PP F. A. McKay    
  K. B. Ward    


Awards and Honours

Rotary Club of Brisbane Exemplary Service Award

This is an award conferred on a member who is judged to have provided a service to the Club and Rotary at a level beyond that normally expected of members. The Evaluation Criteria were developed by the Club to act as a guide in the selection process.


5.COMMUNICATIONS. Effective communications within the RCOB are critical for the growth and development of the Club. This value is concerned with how effectively a member facilitates/disseminates information of significance to members, with respect to Club growth, development and RCOB membership generally.


1988-89 PPJohn Puttick

1999-00 Dr Keith Watts

2000-01 Peter Ryan

2001-02 Marjorie Carss

2002-03 PP Dr Brian Carss



Rotary International Citations for Meritorious Service


1984-85 PP Keith Watts (D9650)

  1. ETHICS Members of the RCOB will reflect ethical behaviour in their relationships, not only with fellow members, but also with others in their community, business and professional networks.
  2. LEADERSHIP. For the RCOB to give an image of leadership as the premier service club in the Brisbane CBD, this value is concerned with the leadership qualities displayed by RCOB members within and outside the club.
  3. FOCUS. Focus addresses a member’s ability to identify promote and develop RCOB projects for implementation; that will really make a difference in the lives of those who will be affected by the project(s).
  4. RESPONSIVENESS TO MEMBERS. This value reflects a member’s willingness to be available, and to assist other RCOB members who require assistance in some, or any particular respect, whether it is related to Club or personal matters.
  5. FUN AND FELLOWSHIP. Membership of Rotary is about building relationships within the Club and the community and having fun in the process. What contribution is made by this member in promoting fun and fellowship amongst the RCOB membership?
  6. ACCOUNTABILITY. How active is this member in playing an active role in the life of the Club, including regular attendance at meetings and participation in CIub/community projects?