This summary of the formation of Brisbane Ionian Club was compiled by Past Presidents Peg Green and Patricia Walker in 2012 to mark our 50th Anniversary.

Early in September 1962 an article appeared in the Social Pages of the Brisbane Sunday Mail announcing a public meeting which invited women who were newcomers to the city and faced difficulty in making new friends, while their husbands took on new jobs with new challenges, to attend with a view to forming an Ionian Club.

(Reference: Sunday Mail article September 1962)

The first Ionian Club had been formed in Launceston in 1946 by Mrs Donald McDonald (Phyllis). As a newcomer to that city she felt the need for some club where other new-comers could be assisted with ‘settling-in’. Phyllis chose the name from a district in Greece known then as IONIA. The Club Badge consists of Ionic Pillars and Symbols of cultural pursuits.

Documents commence with the 1962 public meeting. At that time Brisbane was one of the few Capital cities without an Ionian group.

(Reference: Public Meeting Official Minutes)

On Tuesday 25th September 1962, in the Azalea Room of the Hotel Canberra a public meeting was called to propose the formation of a BRISBANE Ionian Club, sponsored by Mrs Harry Mills and members of her ‘Personality Plus Club’.

Approximately 133 women attended – 84 of whom signed the attendance sheet. Any Ionians present were asked to stand. Three were present, one each from Launceston and Hobart – and one who had been a member of both Sydney, and Melbourne clubs.

Mrs Mills then read the aims and objectives of Ionian Clubs – using knowledge gleaned from Melbourne friends and stressing that, if a formation did go ahead, all matters and, in particular, a new constitution should be put before Phyllis McDonald.

(Reference: See original constitution of Brisbane Ionian Club for Aims and Objectives which came into operation at midnight, Oct 4th 1962)

Several questions were asked of the 3 Ionians present. Phyllis McDonald had telephoned expressing hope that a Brisbane club would be formed.

A motion to proceed with such formation was agreed, and a committee was selected. Phyllis McDonald indicated her desire that the date of our inaugural meeting should be the first Thursday in October 1962, which would replicate the foundation timing of the very first club in Launceston in 1946.

Thus – Thursday October 4th 1962 became our Inauguration Day. With the selection of a committee, a yearly subscription of three guineas was proposed. Our search reveals that in 1962 The Australian Bureau of Statistics placed the average annual earnings ‘by employee’ at $4,291.40 (in decimal terms). To some, a “3 guinea” annual fee must not have appealed, since Foundation Member Joy Lloyd recalls that several ladies present withdrew from the meeting room.

The first formal Committee Meeting for Brisbane took place on Monday October 1st 1962 and records that the inaugural President, Nan O’Donahoo, outlined the duties of each member and basic ideals of the Ionian Clubs, future meetings and social events, plus location of at-homes. The first at-home was scheduled for the   Aquarium Room, Lennon’s Hotel in George Street for Thursday October 4th 1962. Mrs Mills was invited as an ‘honoured guest’.

At this at-home on October 4th 1962 members numbered 34 including all committee members.

(Reference Document: First Committee and Initial Members)

Eligibility restrictions meant that Mrs Mills (a long-time Brisbane resident) was not eligible to join the club.

Four months later by February 4th 1963 Minutes report a membership of 65.

By 1967 membership varied from 110 to 120. Brisbane was, and remains, an “open club” with no waiting list.

One of the objectives in the original constitution, and still followed today in 2012, was to support a nominated charity. Over the intervening years each has seen the Club aiding a charity chosen by the membership. From records approximately $68,000 has been raised by The Brisbane Ionian Club and distributed to the agreed charities, plus direct donations to various flood, bushfire and other natural disaster appeals across Australia.




The FIRST Ionian Convention was held in 1967 in Launceston. Mary Gilbert, our President at that time – and Nan O’Donahoo our inaugural President attended despite earlier misgivings as to how an event originally set to allow “discussion” at a “21st birthday gathering” had evolved into a full scale convention.

(Reference: June 1967 letter from Brisbane to Launceston)

This event was to celebrate the 21st birthday of the inaugural Ionian Club of Launceston. Clubs were asked to propose topics for discussion. Many such topics* prevail today – some 45 years later. As examples:-

“Once an Ionian Always an Ionian” “Standard Forms To Cover Transfer of Members” “Some Clubs Against The Basic Constitution” “Closed Clubs and Waiting Lists”

*(Reference: Minutes and Delegates Summary of Convention)

Conventions followed in other Cities, often timed to coincide with the host club’s birthday.


In 1983 BRISBANE hosted the 4th National Convention by way of celebrating our 21st Birthday. 240 delegates enrolled from 3 Melbourne Clubs, 2 Sydney Clubs, Orange, Canberra, Adelaide, Newcastle, Perth, Gold Coast and 3 Tasmanian Clubs. Husbands, who attended, added to that number.

1990 – INCORPORATION OF THE BRISBANE IONIAN CLUB (Inc.) Following professional advice, our Club resolved to become “incorporated” to protect members and office-bearers from liability and/or litigation. This was proposed in September 1989 – and finalised in 1990.

May 22nd 1991 saw Brisbane Ionian Club sponsor a Second Club for the Queensland Capital to be known as the BRISBANE ’91 CLUB (AKA Qld 91 Club)

By 1996 The Ionian Movement was celebrating its 50th YEAR with luncheons in Launceston and Canberra. 3 Brisbane Ionians represented our Club. Sadly Phyllis McDonald had passed away just before the event. In her honour a ROSE was commissioned from a Victorian propagator, resulting in a bright pink bloom named the Phyllis McDonald Rose.

The 10th National Convention was staged in OCTOBER 2010 in BRISBANE and was jointly organised by The Brisbane Club, The Brisbane 91 Club, and the Surfers Paradise 83 Club (Gold Coast). Despite constant rain – a fine success!

This year – 2012 marks 50 years of ongoing success for the BRISBANE IONIAN CLUB Inc. Membership has fluctuated, yet the “at-homes” remained constant, and efficient committees have always operated soundly-funded agendas. The annually audited financial records are testament to that achievement.

.   .   .

Gratitude is extended to Norah Greenhalgh & Joy Lloyd (Foundation Members) whose personal recollections of the very first days of our club have added to the accuracy of this record.

SPECIAL THANKS certainly go to (the late) Mrs DOROTHY MILLS who was made an honorary Brisbane Ionian Club member in 1998. It was her drive and foresight which saw newcomers to Brisbane in the 60’s finding friendship with other women. For that, Ionians of all ages should remain forever grateful.





Compiled by Past Presidents

Peg Green and Patricia Walker

© Brisbane Ionian Club  2012