How it Began

 how-it-all-began-1When Phyllis McDonald moved to Launceston as a young wife in the 1940s, she was a lonely newcomer to that city.

In those days it was unusual for women to have employment outside the home. Phyllis felt the need for the company of other women in similar circumstances, to share friendship and give support to each other in their new situation.

So, not being one to sit around and do nothing, she proceeded to gather a small group of ladies together who would enjoy meeting in each other’s homes for morning or afternoon teas. The ladies had a chance to chat, share experiences and decide how to make the best use of their time.

This was the foundation of the group that became known as The Ionian Club, and the first official meeting took place on 3 October 1946.

The name ‘Ionian’ comes from a Greek word for the ancient Hellenic race of people who occupied Attica and established colonies there. The people brought their art and culture with them and named the district ‘Ionia’. Phyllis felt the Ionian title would be an appropriate one for women who moved into a new area.

Phyllis and her sister, Joan Tapp Quinn, who lived in Sydney, corresponded regularly and Joan told Phyllis she was also lonely in her city. So, with advice and help from Phyllis, a second Ionian Club was established in Sydney in 1948.

how-it-all-began-2Clubs began to form in other cities around Australia as Ionian members moved to a new location, usually because of a transfer for a husband’s business or career. The element that makes the Ionian club different from other women’s groups is the requirement that members have moved into an area from somewhere else. That experience is the common bond for Ionian ladies

There are now clubs throughout Australia, one in Auckland, New Zealand and one in London, England.
The design of the Ionian crest, with its Ionic pillars, scroll, artists’ brushes and lyre, depicts the different aspects of the cultures of our Ionian Clubs. It was designed by Joan Tapp in 1946.

In her latter years, Phyllis enjoyed travelling the length and breadth of Australia, visiting all the clubs in Ionian friendship. Those who had the privilege to meet her, have very fond memories of her charm, enthusiasm and energy. Phyllis would recall the early days of the Launceston club and how the ladies would get dressed up, complete with hat and gloves, as though going somewhere very special. On some weekends they would plan an outing, such as a picnic, and allow husbands to join them. Phyllis died in 1996 and is sadly missed.

The Melbourne Club instigated the growing of the Phyllis McDonald rose which is now in the gardens of many Ionians in all states.