Rotary came to Australia when the Melbourne club was chartered in April 1921 and the first country club was Bendigo, chartered in July 1925. The first `Organisational Meeting of the Provisional Maryborough Rotary,' commenced on February 14th 1952 with weekly meetings until the Charter on July 14th, 1952.
Hans Ebeling from the Rotary Club of Ballarat was responsible for the formation of the Maryborough club. Hans recalled that it was following his time as President at the Ballarat club that he suggested to the new club President, Bert Stohr, that they should sponsor a Rotary Club at Mary­borough. This suggestion was readily taken up and Hans was immediately appointed as `Governor's representative' to follow up the project.
Hans was born at Avoca, as had been his parents, and had the advantage of knowing a number of Maryborough people including Tom Boyle, who had recently transferred to Maryborough from Ballarat. When contacted, Tom was most enthusiastic and several prospective members were inter­viewed and the first meeting called. Several members from the Ballarat club attended and assisted in acquainting those present in the requirements of Rotary membership and qualifications.
Maryborough Rotary received its charter on the evening of July 14th, 1952 at the Maryborough Town Hall, the meeting being chaired by President Bert Stohr of Ballarat and assisted by District Governor, Len Clarkson…Two hundred and one Rotarians and friends saw twenty-two members inducted.
Vern Benjamin was the first President but had to resign half-way through his term. Vice-President Frank Lowery filled the position of President for the remainder of Vern's year, then his own term.
Initially, the club met at Harris’s Café in Nolan Street (next to the Movie theatre), but the increasing membership in the later 1950s saw it necessary to look for larger premises for the weekly meetings, so in 1957, the club moved to the R.S.L. Hall in High Street Maryborough, with the R.S.L. Ladies catering. The club operated there with the RSL Ladies for around 60 years, but when the ladies disbanded, a volunteer group from the Havilah Home for the Aged took up the catering challenge.
As the RSL facilities deteriorated, in 2012, the club moved to the dining room of Raglan House, part of the new complex built by the Havilah Home for the Aged on the old Maryborough High School site.
Extracted from “Maryborough Rotary – Fifty Years of Service” written by Past President Daryl McLeish and updated by PDG Geoff James.