Rotary Club of Toowoomba South Inc.

The History of Our Club

This page contains snippets of historical club information along with links to documents relating to the charter of our club and it's early history.

Other articles and posts on projects and events undertaken by the club over many years can be found by exploring the links in the sub pages section above.

Information and stories on our more recent projects can be found in the What We Do page and in the Club Blog

The Early Years - 1959 to 1982

Chartered in 1959 (May 20th) under the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Toowoomba, the Club began with 26 members.

In 2002 PP Jack Kelly PHF, our last Charter Member, resigned from active membership. Sadly, he passed away in 2008.

Click on the highlighted links below to read detailed reports on the History of the Club from it's Charter in 1959 up to the Rotary Year 1982/83.

Charter members of the Rotary Club of Toowoomba South - Photo taken in 1960

Some more History - 1976 to 2011

An article by PP Bob Peirce (2011)

Our regular meetings are held each Tuesday at Regents on the Lake commencing at 5.45 pm for 6.15 pm. In February 2003, the Club moved to Regents on the Lake, Rotary’s new home in here for more...

From 1976 to 2005 our major fundraiser was the Hobby ‘n’ Craft Spectacular, one of the largest of its kind in Australia. The event ran for three days and attracted exhibitors from across Queensland and interstate.

In 2006 we commenced the first of three Dream Home Projects, where we bought land on which a house was built for sale. All three of these projects have been organised by a committee of members led by PP Peter Wenham. Click Here for more information on Dream Home No. 3.

With funds raised from the many projects undertaken by the club over the years, Toowoomba South has provided major support for many community groups. These include The Bush Connection, Teen Challenge, Life Education, St Andrew’s Toowoomba Hospital, Endeavour Foundation and The Hospice. Other community organisations to benefit include St John Ambulance, Glenvale Scouts, West Toowoomba Lions, our Interact Clubs and our Rotary Partners. All these groups provided integral support for the Club during Hobby ‘n’ Craft. Since 1976 Hobby ‘n’ Craft enabled Toowoomba South to distribute in excess of AU$500,000. Funds from our Dream Homes have supported Life Education, St. Andrew’s Hospital cancer care unit and The Toowoomba Hospice.

In 1995 the members organized and drove the Australia-wide Western Family Drought Appeal.

The Club has been heavily involved in International Service with FAIM/ RAWCS Projects in Fiji, India and New Guinea, sponsoring Youth Exchange Students to Finland, Germany, Denmark and South Africa. The Rotary Foundation, Polio Plus & 3H Program have received support. We have also hosted students from Denmark, Germany, Brazil and France as well as hosting a vocation day for the GSE Team from England in March/April 2002. GSE team members, Ambassadorial Scholars, NYSF, Siemens Science, RYLA & RYPEN students in addition to Probus, Rotaract & 3 Interact Clubs have been sponsored. For many years the club assisted The Rotary Club of West Toowoomba and the other Toowoomba Rotary clubs in organizing and conducting a Careers Night for school students. We continue to assist Centenary Heights State High School by giving mock job interviews to its students during the Education Week. In the early 1990s, the Club organized, funded and physically built a sheltered workshop in Megalang, Indonesia. In the late ‘90’s several members built houses for the under-privileged in Fiji.

Toowoomba South has always supported the Toowoomba community by founding charitable organisations, providing financial & management support and constructing buildings. This support continued by being involved in celebrating the centenary of the City of Toowoomba in 2004 and the centenary of Rotary in 2005.

Update: With the loss of our Caterer in 2017, Regents on the Lake has been sold and we now meet on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday nights for dinner at The Downs Club in Milne Street Toowoomba. Our Satellite Club, The Edge, meets for breakfast on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month - locations TBA.

In 2020 our membership stands at a total of 40 (23 in the Senior Club and 17 in the Satellite Club) plus 7 Honorary Members. Of these, 17 are Paul Harris Fellows including 4 Sapphire Fellows and 1 Second Sapphire Fellow.

Hobby-n-Craft - In the beginning

New era for the Rotary Club of Toowoomba South - An article by PP Noel Williamson

On Tuesday 11 May 1976 The Rotary Club of Toowoomba South changed their meeting venue from the Canberra Hotel in Margaret Street to the Phoenix Room at the Zacks International Hotel in Ruthven Street (now) the Bourke & Wills Hotel) here for more...

Chairman for this auspicious occasion was PP Mike Browning with myself still in the Chair. The Guest Speaker for this occasion was PP Peter Betros (now deceased) with PP Frank Brammer (now deceased) giving the VOT.

Changeover took place on 29th June 1976 with Ron Martin following me as President

Following Ron's induction as President, he found he had to change his employment from Western Transport and resigned from the Presidency of the Rotary Club of Toowoomba South and shifted to Brisbane as Director of Sheltered Workshops for the Qld Sub Normal Children's Welfare Association.

Julian Wilson was elected as the new President about August 1976 and got right behind the craft exhibition.

Geo Shaw and our nominated committee started to plan this event which took over 6 months and a lot of exhibitions visits to come up with the final plan.

The Club embraced this idea and many members put their heart and soul into the organizing. In April 1977 the first Hobby N Craft was staged in the old Shannon's building at the Toowoomba Showground's now where the Cobb & Co Museum is situated and the result was a profit of about $1200 which paid off our motorbike commitment

The President at the Time was Julian Wilson, who is still a very good friend of mine.

The Following year the second Hobby and Craft was held on April 22nd and 23rd 1978 at the same venue with Ian Prior as President and whilst we hoped for $1000 profit the net came to $1600.


In about 1981 this great concept needed an injection and a number of our members got together and under a plan presented by PP Alvin Huth, we renamed the exhibition The Hobby N Craft Spectacular, changed the format with a great deal more outlay, and this injection of funding and enthusiasm gave the Hobby N Craft the impetus it needed to become arguably the greatest Hobby N C raft Exhibition in Australia at the time.

Since then and after raising some $2 Million Dollars for charities, many copycats have entered this arena under weekend market banners, however we still have a very marketable and fund raising venture and should be continued with extra vigor for without the medium of fundraising we become just another "chook raffle seller" raising peanuts for Charities.

Yours in Rotary

PP Noel E Williamson OAM.

Lake Annand Reserve

Lake Annand is an artificial lake created by the previous Toowoomba City Council as part of its East Creek Development Scheme. It was commenced by Council in 1955 and named in honour of Toowoomba’s longest serving mayor, James Douglas Annand who served for 22 years between 1924 and 1952. The area now known as Lake Annand Reserve was previously used as Chinese market gardens prior to becoming a reserve for parks and recreational here for more...


The Rotary Club of Toowoomba South has had a long-standing involvement in the development of the Lake Annand Reserve. The club first offered to arrange the landscape planning of the reserve through Brisbane Landscape Architect Arne Fink. A detailed plan was then obtained for the children’s playground area on which the club offered to carry out further basic work. The club has also assisted Council with the planting of trees, building of barbeques, shelter, boardwalks, and bridges. One of the biggest projects undertaken by the club was the planning and building of the arched timber bridge over the lake in accordance with Fink’s plan.


The original bridge over Lake Annand was a laminated timber bridge constructed in 1966 and completed in 1967 by the Rotary Club as a community service project. It was paid for with a dollar-for-dollar grant from Council. Fabrication of the laminated timber beams was carried out by Toowoomba Flush Doors, and construction of the bridge was undertaken by J. M. Kelly Pty Ltd. Excavation was undertaken by club members. The bridge was handed over to Council on 18 June 1967 by Rotary Club of Toowoomba South President Les Boyd to Deputy Mayor Jack Scott representing Mayor Nell Robinson.


The bridge was modified in 1984 to include steps and a non-slip surface to improve access. In 2011, the 44 year old bridge was removed and replaced with a steel bridge as part of Toowoomba Regional Council’s asset replacement program, when structural reports on the timber bridge indicated an inadequacy for public safety. The new bridge was designed to provide better access for all.


Lake Annand Detail Softscape Works.pdf

Lake Annand Detail Hardworks Plan.pdf

The Naming of Toowoomba

The writings of two of our Past Presidents - Bob Dansie and Dick Marriot

The story below was taken from a TRC Local History Library leaflet and was supplied by Past President Bob Peirce. The sources for the leaflet were from the writings of two of our Past Presidents, Bob Dansie and Dick here for more...

Bob Dansie was the first Principal of Centenary Heights State High School and an acknowledged expert on local history.

Dick Marriott was an accomplished and very well respected journalist, and the writer of a number of books.

There are many theories regarding the naming of Toowoomba. The theories known are summarised below. For further information please refer to the sources at the end of this brochure.

When Toowoomba was first discovered, it was known as the 'Drayton Swamp' and was often referred to as 'The Swamp.' It is believed that Aborigines trying to say 'The Swamp' pronounced a word sounding like 'Tawampa', which easily becomes Toowoomba.

A second version features a letter to the Toowoomba City Council from Steele Rudd claiming that his father had told him that in 1848 he first saw Toowoomba and in 1849, attached to J C Burnett, he assisted to lay it out. He believed that it was derived from the native name of 'Toogoom' because of the reeds that grew here.

A third version and a widely accepted theory of the use of Toowoomba's name comes from Mrs Alford, wife of James Alford, one of the first businessmen in both Drayton and Toowoomba. It is believed that Mrs Alford asked the natives what they called the area. They replied 'Woomba Woomba' meaning 'the springs and the water underneath.' The Alford's realised that two woombas would not be a suitable name for their house and store but by using TOO which is also a type of plural it would become Toowoomba.

In 1875 W H Groom wrote an account of Toowoomba, stating the name 'Toowoomba' derived from an Aboriginal word mean­ing 'great in the future' however he gave no source to this infor­mation.

The fifth theory came from a botanist by the name of Archibald Meston. In 1895 Meston wrote a book titled "A Geographical History of Queens­land," which included his explanation of the name "Toowoomba".

"Toowoom" or "Choowom" was the local blacks' name for a small native melon (Cucumus pubescens) which grew plentifully on the site of the township. The terminal "ba" is equal to the ad­verb "There," so the whole word means "melons there," and to an Aboriginal it meant "the place where the melon grows"

This melon still exists and can be found growing in the Balonne and Warrego areas as well as areas closer to Toowoomba however there is no evidence that the melons grew in or near the Toowoomba swamps.

The sixth version came from a man called Enoggera Charlie who wrote his story in the Sydney Morning Herald. He claimed when he was looking for work as a tar boy, he had camped over­night near the Toowoomba Swamp. Questioning an old shepherd sage of the naming of the Toowoomba Swamp he was informed that near the junction of the East and West Swamp there was a log with the inscrip­tion informing tramps the way to a well-known homestead where there was a certainty to rations. The inscription read 'To Woom-brah.'

At around the same time that Enoggera Charlie wrote to the Sydney Morning Herald another man by the name of Ardlaw Lawrence put forward his theory. He suggested that the name Too­woomba may be an Anglicised version of the 'Boowoomga' which meant 'thunder' in the di­alect of the Upper Burnett and Gayndah tribes. However he could give no reason for the name being transferred to the Darling Downs.

Writing in a pamphlet in 1899, George Essex Evans wrote that the name Toowoomba meant 'meeting of the waters' however this was again written without authentication.

Controversy surrounds the various theories of the naming of Toowoom­ba. Opinions vary and verifying the theories is difficult with some theories having little if any written evidence to support them. In the final analysis though, Toowoomba became "Toowoomba" regardless of which theory is correct.


Dansie, R.A.(1989) "A Melon, a Swamp and a Piece of Red Calico."

Marriott, R.S. (1960) 100 Years of Progress: the story of Too­woomba.

Bob Dansie was the first Principal of Centenary Heights State High School and an acknowledged expert on local history.

More info on Bob Dansie can be found here:

Dick Marriott was an accomplished and very well respected journalist, and the writer of a number of books. Click Here for more information.

The Sombrero

As part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program in the 1992/93 rotary year, Toowoomba South, under the leadership of President Warren Burton, hosted a young Mexican exchange student named Talina Hernandez.

Towards the end of her stay in Australia Talina presented The Sombrero to President Warren as a token of her appreciation to the club for hosting her as its exchange student.

Since then the presentation of The Sombrero, from outgoing president to incoming president, has become a much anticipated highlight of our club’s annual changeover ceremony, to the point now that The Sombrero has become a de-facto symbol or icon of the club.

Talina Hernandez with 1992/93 President Warren Burton and “The Sombrero”

A summary of Club Projects - 1959 to 2013

Below is a spreadsheet file with a list of projects the club has been involved with from its charter in 1959.

This list is by no means a complete history of the club's activities but gives an brief overview of some of the wide ranging projects undertaken by the club over it's many years of operation. The list is updated with new information as it becomes available.

Rotary Projects History