The Rotary Club of North Sydney was chartered on 16 August, 1928 as Club No. 2952 with 18 members. It was the 19th Club to be formed in Australia as part of District 65, which then covered the whole continent. The Charter itself was presented to the Club by The Rotary Club of Sydney at a dinner dance at Neutral Bay on 10 October, 1928.
Paul Harris, the Founder of Rotary, was welcomed by North Sydney at the first club meeting he attended in Australia on 14 March, 1935.
He later planted a memorial tree (Queensland fire-wheel) in St. Leonard’s Park. It still lives into the 21st century.
After meeting at the Milsons Point Hotel for the first 12 months the Club met for 30 years at the Crows Nest Hotel, then for 15 years at the North Sydney Police Boys Club followed by 4 years at the Cammeray Golf Club and since 1978 the venue for all weekly meetings has been the North Sydney Leagues Club, only five meeting places, during the Club’s 75 years, since its charter was received.
In 1994 the Club established, with matching grants from the Rotary Foundation, a facility in Uganda for the manufacture and supply of low cost appliances such as calipers, clogs and crutches to physically disabled children and teenagers. A second grant was received some seven years later to expand this highly successful venture.
The Club elected its first female member in 1989 (Anne Gollan) who then served as President in 1995-1996. Since then the Club has had a second lady President (Jenny Thomas), in 2000-2001 and currently Jenny Thomas is the serving President for 2009-2010. Both are Paul Harris Fellows, the second also receiving a Sapphire Pin in 2002.
In 1981 the Rotary Club of North Sydney Benevolent Fund was established with some $300,000 since then distributed to various charities and, in 1982, the Allan Stephens North Sydney Rotary Trust was set in place to support research into cancer and arthritis with more than $120,000 having been provided in its first 20 years. In 2001 the Club donated a bus for the Hope Healthcare Tom O’Neill Centre to transport dementia sufferers and their carers.
In March 1983 the Club sponsored the Probus Club of North Sydney. In 1967 a Rotaract Club was formed and it flourished for about a dozen years before a steady decline in member numbers led to its closure in 1982. Two unsuccessful attempts were made over the next decade to get it going again.
Current on-going local community services include for more than 25 years the management and co-ordination of the North Sydney Regional Centre for the Annual Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal; for some two decades the distribution of food hampers in July and at Christmas to needy and elderly citizens in the North Sydney area; and for ten years, the operation of the Rotary Markets at the Crowns Nest Community Centre on the 3rd Saturday of each month.
The Club celebrated its 80th anniversary on October 16th, 2008 in the Strangers Dining Room, New South Wales Parliament House. October the 16th coincided with the Crows Nest Markets so a Birthday Cake and Celebrations took place at the Markets.
Today the Club’s membership exceeds 50.