Apex Clubs of Australia

The Association of Apex Clubs of Australia is an Australia-wide association of autonomous clubs dedicated to fellowship, self-improvement, and community service, similar to other service clubs such as Lions International but with a younger membership (18–40).[1] Apex organizes a range of activities such as public speaking and debating competitions, ute musters, and B&S balls. Members call themselves "Apexians".

Apex Clubs of Australia Brand
Apex Australia Logo
Apex Australia Logo


Sculpture located in Johnstone Park, Geelong marking the formation of the association

Apex had its beginnings in Geelong, Victoria in December 1930 with the formation of the "Geelong Young Business Men's Club"[2][3] by architects Ewen Laird, Langham Proud and John Buchan with the support of the local chapter of Rotary International, the mayor of Geelong, and the Geelong Advertiser.[4] Although Rotary has no formal connection with Apex, it figures in the club's formation, as Buchan's father was a Rotarian, and the three friends might have joined but for that organisation's rule of no two members in the same profession.[5]

This was the time of the Great Depression in Australia,[6] when there was a great need for service-oriented men to work together, and the club soon boasted of 60 members. On 10 March 1931 they adopted the name "Apex" with the triangular badge symbolizing the club's three ideals: Service, Citizenship, and Fellowship. That day has since been recognised as the birth of the organisation. Within a few months a club was formed in Ballarat, with assistance from Rotary. Bendigo followed, then Camperdown, Albury, Warrnambool, Wagga, Launceston and Orange. By the start of the Second World War there were 41 clubs scattered across Australia, from Perth to Brisbane.[5]

Each year conventions were held, both at region level and Association-wide, where apart from socializing and attendance at workshops and speeches, decisions affecting all clubs were voted on. In 1958 a move was made to found Apex clubs overseas, and to that end the word "National" was dropped from the association's and "National President" became "President of the Association", and "National Council" became "Executive Council".[1]

Projects and causes adopted by the Association include:[a]

  • Seat belts in passenger vehicles
  • "Learn to Swim" campaign
  • "Operation Apex Sea Lift" encouraging each club to sponsor a British family as migrants
  • Full citizenship to Aborigines
  • Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • Aid to the mentally retarded
  • Miss Apex Australia quest
  • Guide Dogs for the Blind
  • Improved pensions for civilian widows
  • Improved pensions for families of jail inmates
  • Recruiting blood donors
  • Daylight saving
  • Guthrie test for phenylketonuria (1969)
  • Aid to the Disabled (1970)
  • Autistic children
  • Well-sinking in India
  • Banning cigarette advertising (1972)
  • "Foundation 41" neonatal research (1974)
  • Multiple Sclerosis research
  • Children's Leukemia and Cancer Foundation
  • Drug awareness 1978
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome[b]
  • Ban on TV liquor advertising
  • Apex Australia Fine Arts Scholarship

Proposals that were lost to the vote include fluoridation of water and decimalization of currency.[1]

Club achievementsEdit

The range of works undertaken at a local level was great. Some clubs took on projects that were more ambitious:[1]

  • 1950: Claremont club helped establish a Guide Dog training centre at Belmont,[7] transferred to Kew, Victoria in 1957.
  • 1956: Launceston club built a bowling green for a Home for the Aged.
  • 1959: Coolangatta-Tweed Heads club built a 50 by 24 feet (15.2 m × 7.3 m) brick-veneer holiday home for children with cerebral palsy in one day of ten working hours; fully lined and finished, with well-equipped kitchen, fully wired, plumbed and connected. Around 100 local tradesmen volunteered their services.
  • 1965: Mount Barker, South Australia, club restored a century-old derelict windmill to working order
  • 1967: Broken Hill club raised $250,000 to build a 16,000 square feet (1,500 m2) geriatric wing for the town's Home of Compassion.
  • 1968: Yass club, with assistance from Rotary and Legacy, built the "Yass Apex Homes", ten flats for aged citizens on land bequeathed to the cause.
  • 1976: Tennant Creek club produced the Tennant Times, the town's only newspaper.

Growth and declineEdit

There were 100 chartered Apex clubs in 1954, 162 in 1956, 200 in 1958. In 1964 there were 410 clubs and 11,000 Apexians, with 70% of membership in the country;[5] in 1970 615 clubs and almost 16,000 members.[8] In 1976 membership had reached 17,400 in 796 clubs.

By 1970 there was a small number of Apex clubs in Papua and New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia, Ceylon, India, East and West Pakistan, Nauru, Fiji and The Philippines.[8]

Initially Apex membership was restricted to males 18 to 35 years of age, with mandatory retirement at age 40. Beginning in the early 1990s individual clubs could declare themselves "all male", "all female", or "mixed", with the upper age for women set at 45.[9] but since the 2006 National Convention there has been no gender requirement for membership.

Geelong's last Apex club (Barwon) folded in 2015, but there were still 150 active clubs elsewhere in Australia.[4]

Notable membersEdit

  • Miles Bourke (1925–1982), farmer and founding president (1979) of the Victorian Farmers and Graziers Association (became Victorian Farmers' Federation), was a member of the Warracknabeal Apex Club.[10]
  • Sir John Buchan, businessman and Apex co-founder, president of the Australia-America Association and councillor of the City of Melbourne.
  • Herb Elliott sen., father of athlete Herb Elliott, was president of Perth club and appointed Life Governor in 1953.[1]
  • Sir Harold Roy Fidge (1904–1981), solicitor and mayor of Geelong, a founder of the Geelong Apex Club in 1932 and was secretary-treasurer of the Apex national council 1935–40, 1946–1947, and in 1940 elected a life governor.[11]
  • Donald Bruce Mackay (1933–1977), furniture store proprietor and murdered anti-drugs campaigner, was at various times secretary and president of the Griffith Apex Club and district governor.[12]
  • Ivor Gray Morris (1911–1995), woollens manufacturer, was a founder in 1938 of the Ipswich Apex Club and president in 1941, district governor in 1945.[13]
  • William Langham Proud CBE (28 January 1909 – December 1984), architect, born at Korumburra, Victoria, was co-founder of Geelong Apex Club.[15]
  • John Basil Regan (1903–1987), flour-miller, was foundation member (1935) of the Tamworth Apex Club.[16]
  • Bevan Rutt OBE was president of the Adelaide Apex club in 1948, became charter president of Adelaide Lions Club in 1961 and later a District Governor. In 1964 he gave up his practice as architect to work full-time for Guide Dogs for the Blind. He became president of the National Guide Dogs Association in 1966.
  • William R. Tresise MBE (1907–1975) was a member 1936–1947 and president 1945–1947.[17] He then founded Australia's first Lions Club in Lismore on 29 September 1947,[18] was first (Australian Lions) District Governor.[19]
  • William John Wallwork (1903–1971), magistrate, was founding president (1936/37) of the Bunbury Apex club.[20]

National PresidentsEdit

Year Name Club Notes
1932 Eric Hooper Geelong
1933 Will Belscher Bendigo
1934 Stan Jackling Albury
1935 John Buchan Geelong part year only
1935 Colin George Camperdown
1936 Alan E. Edwards Wagga
1938 Basil Jones Hobart
1939 John Sykes Wollongong
1941 Stan Johnson Sydney
1943 Tom Bellair Melbourne
1945 Bill Tresise Lismore see bio (above)
1947 Tom Maguire Wollongong
1949 Langdon Parsons Glenelg
1951 Alan Rowland Glen Innes
1953 Ernest White Orange
1955 Gordon Murray Geelong
1957 Arthur Holden Morwell
1959 Ralph Bower Perth
1961 Graham Grose Mordialloc
1963 Doug Cameron Manly
1964 Kevin Tuckey Parkes
1965 Gilbert F. "Tig" Thomas Narrandera
1966 Bruce Clarke Quirindi
1967 David Richards Terang
1968 George Sprague Campsie
1969 Peter Mayo Perth
1970 Carl Bisson Byron Bay
1971 Brian Horgan Croydon
1972 Tony Randall Lane Cove
1973 Brian Matthews Launceston
1974 Don Ferguson Killara
1975 John Cleaves Cessnock
1976 Tom Chapman Adelaide
1977 Graham Salter Carringbah
1978 Graham Sampson Springwood
1979 Ian Main Launceston
1980 Ian Wolfgang Denman
1981 Peter Baulch Doncaster
1982 Peter Walsh Woy Woy
1983 Bob Gilliver Toowong/Kenmore
1984 Terry Anderson Tea Tree Gully [15]
1985 Stephen Smith Wendouree
1986 John Phillips West Beach
1987 Brian Gill Springwood
1988 Alan Musgrave Forbes
1989 lain Evans Stirling
1990 Jim Hughes Hobart
1990 Loraine Janssen North Adelaide
1991 Angus Redford Adelaide
1991 Diane English Brisbane South West
1992 Christina Boothby North Darwin
1993 Mark Ballin Ipswich
1993 Liz Keddie Adelaide Metro
1994 Wayne Hosier Maroubra
1994 Barbara Simpson/Chris McGurgan Forest Area
1995 Shane Kelly Wallaroo
1996 Gil Thomas Latrobe
1996 Carolyn Dare Townsville Womens
1997 Eric Accornero Herbert River
1997 Kath Venters Geelong Womens
1998 Mike Neville Griffith
1999 Mark Fishwick Emu Bay
2000 Stephen Gribbin Tamworth
2001 David Parsons Mansfield
2002 Ollie Dowd Wee Waa/Narrabri
2003 Bryan Whitehorn Glenelg
2004 Stuart Hughes Hoppers Crossing
2005 Bruce Kelman Esperance
2006 Phil Pregnell Kingston
2007 Rick Hose Maryborough
2008 Paul Gallagher Leeton
2009 Mark Wenzel Mount Barker
2010 Jeff Hardie Sarina
2011 Chris Morahan Brisbane City
2012 Chris Morahan Brisbane City
2013 Kate Huth Albany
2014 Nedd Golding Clare
2015 Jim McNall Maryborough
2016 Mathew O'Donnell Hoppers Crossing
2017 Robert Abraham Chinchilla
2018 Neal Molineaux Wagga Wagga
2019 Michael Godfrey Wongan Hills
2020 Bethany Paterson Kadina
2021 Adam Stewart Toowoomba
2022 Simon Grant Beaufort

Life GovernorsEdit

"Life Governor" is the highest award Apex can award its members.

Year Name Club Notes
1936 Eric Hooper Geelong
1940 Sir Roy Fidge Geelong see bio (above)
1942 Sir John Buchan Geelong
1942 Ewen Laird Geelong
1942 W. Langham Proud CBE Geelong
1945 Colin Campbell Bunbury
1945 Stan Johnson Sydney
1945 Tom Bellair Melbourne
1945 Roy Birdsey Geelong
1947 Bill Tresise Lismore see bio (above)
1947 Stan Jackling Albury
1947 John Sykes Wollongong
1950 Tom Maguire Wollongong
1951 John Nortey Inverell
1952 Langdon Parsons Glenelg
1953 Herb Elliott (sen.) Perth
1954 Allan Rowland Glen Innes
1954 Jack Squires Perth
1957 Gordon Murray Geelong
1959 Pete Garnsey Albury
1960 Arthur Holden Morwell
1961 Tony Miller Hamilton, Vic.
1964 Len Bosman Hurstville
1965 Ralph Bower Perth
1966 G. F. "Tig" Thomas Killara
1969 Bruce Clarke Parramatta
1971 George Sprague Campsie
1972 David Richards Terang
1973 Dick Clampett Blackwood
1974 Brian Horgan Croydon (Croydon, Victoria ?)
1976 Carl Bisson Byron Bay
1978 Don Ferguuson Killara
1979 John Cleaves Cessnock
1980 Graham Salter Carringbah
1981 Tom Chapman Adelaide
1982 Bill Belscher Bendigo
1983 Ken Slatter[21] Boort, Victoria
1983 Ross McLeod Lane Cove
1984 John Russell Barmera
1988 Peter Walsh Woy Woy
1989 Terry Anderson Tea Tree Gully
1990 Stephen Smith Wendouree
1991 John Stokes Claremont
1993 Jim Hughes Jindalee
1994 John Phillips West Beach
1995 Ray Vincent Berry (Berri, South Australia ?)
1998 Andrew Philips Adelaide
2005 Shane Kelly Wallaroo
2019 Neil Sawley Kadina
2022 Mark Ballin Brisbane Valley


  1. ^ Contemporary terminology. Some usages are now deprecated.
  2. ^ "Sudden Instant Death Syndrome" typo in the reference, p.33


  1. ^ a b c d e V. M. Branson (1981). The Golden Years of Apex 1956–1981. Association of Apex Clubs of Australia. ISBN 0909854106.
  2. ^ "Geelong and district". The Argus (Melbourne). No. 27, 453. Victoria, Australia. 14 August 1934. p. 3. Retrieved 15 September 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "Apex - Our History". Apex.org.au. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b Daryl McLure (11 May 2015). "Last Apex Club Closes". The Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 25 February 2022.
  5. ^ a b c "Apex Association". The Canberra Times. Vol. 38, no. 10, 806. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 26 March 1964. p. 22. Retrieved 1 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "At Geelong for Apex's 50th". Victor Harbour Times. Vol. 70, no. 3, 064. South Australia. 22 April 1981. p. 2. Retrieved 15 September 2020 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ Hasluck, Alexandra (1966). "To Guide and Guard: An early history of Guide Dogs in Australia" (PDF). Association for the Blind of Western Australia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2022.
  8. ^ a b "40th Anniversary of Apex". Western Herald. New South Wales, Australia. 27 November 1970. p. 1. Retrieved 1 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "Apex movement is growing daily". The Times (Victor Harbor). Vol. 93, no. 29. South Australia. 2 April 1998. p. 23. Retrieved 1 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia. Number of clubs reported was "Over 500".
  10. ^ Campbell Curtis (2007). Australian Dictionary of Biography: 'Bourke, Miles (1925–1982)'. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  11. ^ John Lack (2007). Australian Dictionary of Biography: Fidge, Sir Harold Roy (1904–1981). National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  12. ^ C. A. Gregory (2000). Australian Dictionary of Biography: 'Mackay, Donald Bruce (Don) (1933–1977)'. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  13. ^ Les Henning (2019). Australian Dictionary of Biography: 'Morris, Ivor Gray (1911–1995)'. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  14. ^ B. J. Costar (2000). Australian Dictionary of Biography: 'Phelan, William (1915–1973)'. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  15. ^ a b "Co-founder of Apex clubs dies". The Canberra Times. Vol. 59, no. 17, 971. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 11 December 1984. p. 14. Retrieved 1 March 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ Chris Cunneen and Charles Regan (2012). Australian Dictionary of Biography: 'Regan, John Basil (1903–1987)'. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Mr Tresise Touring America". The Northern Star. New South Wales, Australia. 23 October 1946. p. 5. Retrieved 25 February 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  18. ^ Max Tresise (2011). Lion Bill (PDF). ISBN 978-0-9870600-9-9.
  19. ^ "First Lions Convention". The Northern Star. New South Wales, Australia. 11 March 1953. p. 4. Retrieved 25 February 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  20. ^ Quentin Beresford (2002). Australian Dictionary of Biography: 'Wallwork, William John (1903–1971)'. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 23 February 2022.
  21. ^ "Supremely Kind Man Who Never Said "No"". PressReader. Retrieved 19 October 2022.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit