Byron Bay Club History | It all started in 1972!


In 2022, our Club celebrated 50 years in Byron Bay, originally chartered by the Rotary Club of Mullumbimby. And although we, like our town, have changed beyond recognition over the years, there are some fundamentals that are as true today as they were back then. We still raise funds to support our community. We still give 100% of everything raised to the causes we stand for. We are all still volunteers and no-one gets paid. We all passionately believe in the Byron Shire community and faithfully stay relevant to support its changing needs. And we still have a town Rotary Clock!

This overview is an expansion of History Notes prepared by the Club Historian Keith Castle in October 1997. It concentrates more on fundraising and the impact of Rotary's work during the years 1972/73 to 1996/97. It is of note that the 1972/73 year began with twenty-seven members and ended with twenty-six. The final year 1996/1997 began with fifteen and ended with eighteen. The lowest membership count totalled five at the start of 1981 and through ebbs and flows, that's where we are today. 

We're all about the future so you'll find more information on our current and recent projects on our projects page. But for those who love a bit of history, here is what Keith wrote about the evolution of our Club up until 1997.


Charter Application June 1972, and presented 07/10/1972. Small projects carried out included a Careers Night, the supply of ceiling fans to ‘Orthodox Home’ and gift of a tape recorder to Bangalow Primary School.


Flood Appeal Ipswich. Two Trucks of useful items provided plus $ 1,355.00 cash. Commenced International Service hosting an exchange student from New York.


Referenced entrance and cleared grounds of Bangalow Swimming Pool. Supplied WC Block at Buttery, painted and repaired Guide Hut. Held Forum on Green Paper on Agriculture at Byron Bay Public School. Darwin Disaster Appeal with useful items and $ 1,427.23 provided.


Visit by Group Study Exchange from India plus NZ visitors. Amount of $ 1,000.00 presented to Byron Bay Life Saving Club for mobile beach rescue unit.


Three major projects The Everglades where $ 450.00 raised, the same amount to the Swim Pool Fund and raised $ 1,100.00 for Bangalow Hospital Appeal. Supported entrant to World Championship Kyaks in Austria, and another to Scouting Jamboree in Fiji. Hosted exchange student from Goondiwindi and nominated another for the following year.


Completed Children's Play Area adjoining Children's Ward at Byron Public Hospital.


Oleander Festival again main event and raised $ 15,107.00. Hosted exchange student from Japan and sent three others to RYLA Camp.


Oleander Festival again main event together with two Interclub visits. Probus Club formed.


Noted one million members now in Rotary internationally with new member in France in April. Entertained 9 overseas students from New England University. Set up Neighbourhood Watch and Life Education Centres for future generations.


Highlight again the Oleander Festival raising $ 21,990.00 plus other funds for Quota, Water Polo, Surf Club, Youth Activities and Rotary. Sufficient funds remained to order the Town Clock at a cost of $ 5,500.00. Helped in the selling of 650 bowel cancer kits together with Quota. Donations to Youth Transition Seminar and a suitable candidate sent to RYLA Camp. Participated in the first Twin matched programme with NZ. Club purchased an Ambulance Manikin Resuscitation Torso to George Feros Nursing Home, Byron Bay High and Primary Schools, Sports Foundation, Lifeguards, IMPAC, Polio Plus, Rotary Foundation and Legacy.


Held a combined Oleander Festival with Quota and Apex with Funds going to George Feros Appeal. The club received Accreditation.


Several new functions added to the fundraising calendar. With Oleander again raising more than $ 30,000.00. Jointly supported incoming student from Brazil and outbound ones to Japan. We hosted another student from Finland. Participated in Nyngan Flood Appeal with other clubs and raised 57 bales of clothing. An additional donation of $ 2,000.00 to Rotary Car Park at George Feros Hostel.


Oleander again raised $ 19,000.00. Sponsored two NZ and two Australian match pair students plus one more to RYPA and RYLA camps. Involvement in Group Study Exchange Team. Purchase for High School Library, a caravan as a vending unit for fetes and carnivals, plus donations to Sports Foundation, Arts Council and Legacy. Further monies to State Primary School Extensions, Life Education Unit and $ 1,000.00 to Youth and Incentive Scheme.


Oleander raised $ 19,462.00 once more. Student welcomed from Nebraska and sent one to Japan on a twelve-month exchange and another to Natural Science Summer School. Raised $ 4,410.00 towards Byron Bay Ambulance heart monitoring machine and purchased a resuscitation learning package for Presentation to Byron Bay High School. A further donation of $ 500.00 to Life Education Centre at Tweed. Supported Primary School, Health Service, Quota, Safe Home Project, Sports Trust, Kids to Ocean Project, Youth Theatre and Red Cross Door Knock Appeal. All Members made life-members of FAIM.


Rotary Town Clock erected, caravan refurbished and finalization of Club’s Education Bursary Scheme. New exchange student from Saute St. Marie Canada welcomed. Students again sent to RYPEN and RYTES Camps, and two students to Siemens Summer Science School. Major fundraiser lost in the collapse of Oleander Festival. Youth, Community Awards introduced into local schools and to continue on annual basis.


Club completed Bowel Scan Project for Byron Bay, assistance with instruments for High School Band, Rotary Citizenship Awards for students in five local schools, book gifts for school libraries on Anzac Day, together with other donations.


Boat Raffle held where $ 6,200.00 value of tickets were sold providing $ 1,700.00 profit for distribution to local charities. Club provided catering for Northern Rivers Motor Cycle Rally, distributed telephone directories and was involved in Red Shield Appeal.


Club organized day outing for 70 Camp Quality children, 70 minders and 15 admin people. The day included a Lighthouse visit, the Whale Museum, surfing and trips around town. Bowel Scan kits again distributed, Club paid the National Education Officer of Kidney Foundation to speak at High School and the next day to 40 medical / admin staff at Byron Hospital. Byron High School Literacy Programme supported where positive improvement was seen. Hospital equipment shipped to PNG. Hosted a GSE team from Brazil.


Club has two members on Katia Nursery Management Committee helping 12 disabled young people find employment and dignity. Workshop improvements completed at costs of $ 4,500.00. Inbound exchange student from Denmark welcomed together with one outbound to South Africa. Helicopter Rescue Service gave $ 1,000.00 and $ 900.00 raised for Cancer Council Daffodil Day. Girl Guide Muster helped with barbecues for more than 2000 guides plus guests. The amount from this was $ 27,500.00 with $ 18,632.00 being a profit for distribution to various charities including $ 1,000.00 to the Australian Rotary Research Foundation and Rotary International Foundation.