The History of Western Division

The Division’s Beginnings

The first move to create a Western Division within District 70 occurred in 1975. At that time District 70 had 3 Divisions. Two of these, containing 9 Areas, were in NSW. The 3rd Division consisted of the clubs in the Southern States of Australia (Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia).

The clubs in Area 4, being the territory of the current Western Division, belonged to the Southern Division. The District Executive Committee, meeting in Sydney and dominated by NSW members, proposed that for the 1975/76 term, a Western Division should be created in NSW. However, at the May 1975 District Conference held in Mt. Gambier the District Council, dominated by representatives from clubs in the Southern States, rejected the proposal on the grounds that it would add to the District’s cost without benefit to them.

The following year the Southern States were separated from District 70 at the inaugural Down Under Convention held in Sydney at the Wentworth Hotel. The Southern States became District 73, while the new District 70 resolved to divide itself into 3 Divisions being Northern with 3 Areas, Western with 2 and Southern with 4.

The new Western Division consisted of Areas 1 and 4 and was in effect a band of territory across the middle of the State stretching from Potts Point to Parkes. The initial composition of the Division was

Area 1 Sydney, Sydney Journalists, Deadline Aquatic (now Professional Speakers), B’Nai B’Brith (now L’Chaim) and Drummoyne. When Hakoah chartered at Bondi later in 1976, the Western Division reached the sea!

Area 4 Parramatta, Hills District, Blacktown, Nepean Valley, and Henry Parkes

From this beginning, Area 1 was to grow into Central Division and Area 4 into the current Western Division. The first Western Division Governor was the late Keith Dank from Parramatta club. Widely known as “Mr. Enthusiasm”, Keith played a key role both in getting the Division formed and then in its early years of growth.

Early Club Formation

The real history of the Division in its current form started 10 years earlier with the formation of the first and most important club, Parramatta. This club was formed by a group of professional men as a strong, high quality club with an outgoing focus. The club has never lost this basis and has remained a high achieving 40+ member club for the majority of its existence. Its early strength was recognised by the club winning the Australian (and later District) club Championship in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1976 and 1978 so that it was able to pass on strong traditions to the clubs it then went on to form.

This started when a team from Parramatta formed Blacktown in 1970, some members transferring in the process. Parramatta and Blacktown then combined to form Nepean Valley in 1973, while another Parramatta team formed the Hills District club in 1974. Despite transferring some members, both Parramatta and Hills District clubs ended up as 40+ member clubs that year and maintained that status afterwards. The Hills District club then started to compete strongly with its sister club, finally taking the club championship from Parramatta in 1979 and again in 1982.

Two other clubs were also formed in the early days. Checkerboard started in the Parramatta Masonic club in 1968 but was never strong, eventually folding in 1975. The other club was Henry Parkes, being formed in Parkes in 1974 by Karingal club (another very strong and successful club in the 1970s that met at Epping) when one of their members went to live in Parkes. This club lasted for 10 years.

Early Years of the Division

Following the creation of Western Division, the first Cobar club was formed by some ex-Queensland Toastmasters in 1977. Despite much effort being expended by Sydney based Toastmasters to keep it going, it only lasted for 4 years. Hills District formed Pennant in 1978 as a mixed club to enable those of its members and wives who wanted to participate together to do so, while a Parramatta team successfully started Orange in 1979.

In 1977, the Western Division acquired a 3rd Area when Area 6 was formed to separate the inner west from the CBD. The next change was a significant one when the outer west Area 14 was created in 1980, a 4th club being formed in the Area in Bathurst the next year by Orange and Nepean Valley.

A feature of these early years was the Division’s annual Parkes weekend. This saw a contingent of Sydney members (and spouses and families in many cases) have a weekend in Parkes, usually including some training and then a function on the Saturday followed by a BBQ and tourist activities on the Sunday. This annual Western Division mini country conference attracted a good attendance for a number of years, the Parkes members being good hosts.

A burst of club formation then occurred with Hawkesbury Valley, Springwood and Kings Langley chartering in 1982 followed by Western Lectern, Lithgow (a club that struggled in recent years before folding in 2000) and Enthusiastic Epping in 1983. This resulted in Area 4 being divided to create Area 13 in 1982, making 5 Areas containing 25 clubs in a geographically large Division that now stretched from the CBD to Parkes.

Central Division Formed

The first reduction in the Division’s geographic size occurred in 1983 when Central Division was formed, taking over Area 1. From 1983 – 88 Western Division consisted of 4 Areas, being from East to West, Areas 6, 13, 4 and 14. A short lived club was formed in Blayney in 1986. Then after Parrachievers (1986) and Parratax (1988) were formed Area 13 was divided in 1988 to create Area 25.

The next 3 years saw 4 clubs formed in Area 4, being Able Spirited Cadre, Blue Mountains, Holroyd and Glenbrook, leading to that Area being divided and Area 28 created in 1991. The second Cobar club was also formed in 1992. This one was to last for 6 years.

Although they are not now part of Western Division, growth continued to occur in Areas 6 and 25 as well in these years. This led to Area 6 being divided to create Area 31 in 1992, making 7 Areas in the Division with 31 clubs. Frank Higgins was the Division Governor who coped with this record number of Areas.

Phillip Division Formed

The continued growth pressure was relieved in 1993 with the creation of Phillip Division, Areas 6, 25 and 31 going to this new Division and leaving Areas 4, 13, 14 and 28 in a much smaller Western Division.

This saw the start of an intensive period of new club formation. Quakers Hill, Rooty Hill and Oakhill Community were formed in 1993, followed by St. Clair in 1994. Talk’N’Emu, Pentax and Winners Circle followed in mid 1995 while 1996 saw 7 new clubs formed, being Parramatta Breakfast, Cumberland Forest, West Pennant Hills, Dubbo, Con-Verse, the 2nd Parkes club and Kirconnell.

Of these clubs, Talk’N’Emu, Con-Verse, Kirconnell were gaol clubs, with Con-Verse actually being in Long Bay gaol. All 3 have since folded, as has the 2nd Parkes club and Pentax.

All this growth resulted in the creation of Area 38 in 1996 out of Area 28, with Emu Heights chartering in 1997 in the new Area, although this club folded after 5 years.

The Division Takes on its Current Shape

Further growth in the District led to an 8th Division (Eastern) being created in 1998. As part of the associated realignment of the District (which saw Phillip Division made a south of the harbour Division), Area 37 (created in 1996 and made part of Phillip Division) was transferred to Western Division and another former part of Western, Area 25, was transferred from Phillip to Hawkesbury Division.

Area 37 covers the Hills District area which had always formed a core part of Western Division with its clubs split between Areas 13 and 25. So those clubs were welcomed back after their 2 year sojourn in Phillip and the Division assumed its current shape with 6 Areas, namely from east to west Areas 13, 37, 4, 28, 38 and 14.

Club formation has continued, with Western Gourmet and Penrith City chartering in 1999, St. Marys Leagues in 2001 and Dundas and Mudgee in 2002.

With no Clubs being lost in 2001/2002, this enabled the Division to reach the top status of being a President’s Distinguished Division for that term.

Complementing this history, please see the following separate pages

Previous Leaders

Tables listing all the Division and Area Governors who have served in the Division since its foundation

Contest Winners

Tables listing the winners of all the various speaking contests held in the Division and showing which members went on to win the District 70 contest.

A HUGE thank you to our original Division Webmaster, Gary Wilson for researching and collating all the facts, figures and information provided.

Please send any questions, comments or news for this website to the Division Webmaster.