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Probus in the Top End

The first Probus club formed in the Top End was the Darwin Probus Club, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Darwin North in 1985. From the 14 who attended the first Interest Meeting, Darwin Probus Club has grown to around 130 members - now with a waiting list.

It took another 26 years before a second club was established - in October 2012 - Palmerston Probus Club which was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Litchfield/ Palmerston. From the 25 who attended the Interest Meeting, the club has grown to around 50 members.

It wasn’t long before the Rotary Club of Darwin Sunrise sponsored the next club - Charles Darwin Probus Club - in June 2015. From twenty odd at their Interest Meeting, they now have about 80 members - with a waiting list.

Another three years and the Rotary Club of Darwin South sponsored the fourth local club, the Probus Club of Mararra - in June 2018. Mararra is still a small but growing club currently undertaking a membership drive.

A Brief History of Probus

In February, 1981, five Rotarians in the Sydney area, all of whom had been involved in the formation of Probus clubs, got together to share their experiences with the intention of preparing some basic information for Rotary clubs contemplating the formation of Probus clubs. They were District 9680 Past Governor R.S. (Bob) Burnett, Rotary Club of Turramurra; Past President W.A. (Bill) Jacobs, Rotary Club of Hunters Hill, Chairman of the District 9680 Probus Committee; C.A. (Cec) Short, Rotary Club of Turramurra and member of the District 9680 Committee; District 9690 Past Governor J.W. (Jim) Stanford, Rotary Club of Padstow; and C.S. (Cliff Johnstone, Rotary Club of Sydney, Chairman of the District 9750 Probus Committee.

Based on the growth of Probus in the region from two to 44 clubs in comparatively short time, they predicted a rapid escalation in the future growth rate. Reporting their findings to the governors of the three districts centred on the Sydney metropolitan and near country areas, they recommended the provision of an information service to Rotary clubs throughout the region. The result was the Probus Information Centre (now Probus South Pacific Ltd.) which was established by authority of all the district governors in the ANZO region to assist with planning and promotion to ensure steady growth and maximum efficiency in the use of Rotary resources.

By maintaining close liaison with the Rotary District Probus Committees throughout the region, Probus South Pacific Ltd has been able to assist in the spectacular extension of Probus and to provide a useful service to Rotary Clubs planning to sponsor Probus clubs.

In response to popular demand, a Probus newsletter (issued to clubs from 1982) was converted to a quarterly news magazine available to all members in June, 1983.  Probus News now appears in spring, summer, autumn and winter editions providing news and information for members and giving clubs and individuals a forum for the exchange of ideas and information and the expression of opinions. One result of the regular appearance of Probus News has been the rapid development of inter-club visits and fellowship. Trans-Tasman and interstate tours with visits to Probus clubs have become almost commonplace.

In some areas, groups of clubs have formed local regional Probus associations for the promotion of periodical meetings and other fellowship gatherings. In other areas smaller numbers of clubs meet as interest groups to exchange ideas of mutual concern.

As Probus has continued to grow in the region, groups of clubs have gained the confidence to organise gatherings for special occasions, to which they have invited Probus members from throughout the region. In 1987 the Probus club of Perth, W.A., organised a highly successful Septemberfest, which attracted visiting Probarians from all States of Australia and from New Zealand. In 1988, the Probus clubs of South East Queensland invited Probus members to participate in what they called Operation Handclasp in association with Expo 88.

In April, 1991, Probarians from far and wide converged on the Barossa Valley in South Australia for a "happening" known as Rendezvous `9l which was declared a resounding success by the more than 1400 participants followed by Rendezvous in 1993 in Port Macquarie, New South Wales, 1995 Christchurch, New Zealand and 1996 Echuca/Moama on the Victorian/New South Wales border, Rendezvous '97 in Perth, Western Australia Rendezvous '98 in Goulburn, New South Wales, Rendezvous '99 on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Rendezvous 2000 (October) in Armidale, New South Wales and Rendezvous 2010 in Darwin. These gatherings of Probarians serve to promote fellowship and extend friendships among retired people.

Today Probus South Pacific Ltd is an administrative centre being the sole authority for determent policy on all matters relating to Probus within Australia/New Zealand and PNG.

No doubt Probus will continue to grow and, while the need exists, clubs will respond by forming new Probus clubs to meet that need.