First Luncheon Aug 31st 1923The inaugural meeting to form the Rotary Club of Adelaide was held on Friday the 24th August 1923 at the Grand Central Hotel which was formerly located on the north eastern corner of Rundle and Pulteney Streets.  A plaque at the corner now occupied by Hungry Jacks marks the location.

The meeting was called by Professor Osborne, the Charter President of the Rotary Club of Melbourne, formed in 1921, who was accompanied by Walter Drummond also from Melbourne. They contacted some of the leading Adelaide citizens of the day. Eleven people attended with four apologies. George McEwin, a solicitor, was appointed the first President, Rupert Haynes, a wholesale grocer, was appointed Secretary and T.G. Howe, from the tobacco industry, became Treasurer.

The first luncheon was held in the South Australian Hotel on Friday 31st August, 1923. 

Twenty-three Charter Members and two visitors from the Rotary Club of Melbourne attended.

The first Board meeting was held on Tuesday 28th August, 1923 at the office of Rotarian P.J.A Lawrence, a mercantile broker.

The Club’s Charter was signed by the Rotary International President on 4th February 1924 and received by the Club in early March 1924. A strong effort was made to increase membership as after 19 months, with over 80 proposal cards for membership being issued.

In its 100 year history, Rotary Adelaide has sponsored 13 new Rotary clubs, an Interact club and a Rotaract club:

1928 Mt. Gambier            1935 Unley                     1946 Pt Adelaide            1947 Victor Harbor

1949 Pt Lincoln                 1952 Glenelg                  1954 Norwood               1954 Thebarton

1958 St Peters                   1964 Adelaide West       1966 Adelaide East        1972 North Adelaide

1986 Adelaide Light          1965 Adelaide High Interact         2010 Adelaide University Rotaract

In1927, Rotary Districts were established in Australia. Rotary Adelaide has been a member of Districts 65, 64, 33, 250, 950 and 9500.

District conference 1950In 2020, in re-amalgamation with District 9520, Rotary Adelaide became a member of new District 9510, encompassing most of South Australia, portions of New South Wales, the Victorian Sunraysia area and half of the Northern Territory.

93 conferenceSince that amalgamation, nine Rotary Adelaide members have been District Governors.

Membership numbers have fluctuated over the years  the club grew from 23 in 1923 to a peak of 227 in 1985 and now to 166 in 2022/23. There are 142 active members, 12 Honorary Members and 12 Friends of Rotary.

Significant events marked the early years.

  • The first fellowship golf day was held at Kooyonga on 6th August 1924
  • The first lunches were held at members’ work places, the Holden’s Motor Body Works and the Tramways Trust
  • The first International donation was made to Japanese earthquake victims in 1924
  • Singing was introduced at Club meetings in 1924 and a choir was formed which continued until 1974-5.  It resumed in recent years.
  • The first District Conference attended by Adelaide Rotarians was in Hobart in 1927/8
  • In 1943-4 Sir Donald Bradman first addressed the Club on ‘Cricket Reminiscences’ before he became a member, serving for 53 years
  • Prominent in the early yeasrs were Sir John Monash, Sir Douglas Mawson, His Excellency Sir Thomas Bridges, Governor of SA and Hon R L Butler, Premier of SA.


end polio poster 1smallSome of the outstanding community and international projects have been undertaken by the Club include:

  • donations of over $5 million to numerous Rotary and community programs; including Rotary Health and The Rotary Foundation, including for Polio Eradication
  • the sponsoring of youth programs, including Youth Exchange, Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), Youth Programs of Enrichment (RYPEN) Science Seminars and Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA)
  • supporting Business in-the-Community and Bridging the Gap programs, the formation of the Crippled Children’s Association (now Novita) and Senior Citizens (now Council on the Ageing (COTA)
  • initiation of the Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children (ROMAC) in South Australia and raising $50,000 towards medical treatment under this program.

With the advent of the Club Centenary, the Club will also be making available a compilation of the achievements of the 100 Presidents and a history of our significant events over those 100 years.



A bit of history Bob Hecker Hubert Opperman Don Bradman Greame Higginson Marjorie Jackson-Nelson

Club members Bob Hecker and Graham Higson welcome, in the centre, sporting heroes Hubert Oppermann, Marjorie Jackson-Nelson and Don Bradman.

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For a taste of the day to day work of the club today, check out the Weekly Bulletins Archive.

We gratefully acknowledge the enthusiasm and support of our partner organisations