Melbourne Club

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Melbourne Club

The Melbourne Club is a men-only private social club established in 1838 and located at 36 Collins Street, Melbourne; adjacent to the women-only Lyceum Club. The club has up to 1,500 members; admission being by invitation only. The club is among those that have traditionally been perceived by critics as wielding a disproportionate influence on Australian public life, with a third of its members being listed in an issue of Who's Who in Australia.[1]

The club is a symbol of Australia's British heritage and was established at a gathering of 23 Victorian squatters and businessmen in 1838 and initially used John Pascoe Fawkner’s public house on the corner of Collins Street and Market Street. The club's early years were marked by drunkenness, duels, fist fights and oafishness.[citation needed] It has become progressively marginalized since the beginning of the 21st century. As a men-only club, it has been increasingly ridiculed for its admission policies. The former Prime minister, Julia Gilliard, singled it out and said: "I can be a bit naughty from time to time, and there are days when I've been in Melbourne as Acting Prime Minister and I've thought, "You know what I should do today? I should ring up the Governor General and I should say to her, 'Why don't we go down and jointly apply for membership and see what happens next?'" Maybe one of these days we will!"[2]

At the rear of the Club building is a private courtyard garden which is the location of garden parties and private functions. In 2000 there was a dispute over a high-rise re-development of the Naval and Military Club at the rear of the two clubs in Little Collins Street. The development causes overshadowing and overview of the private garden.[citation needed] The Melbourne club building is of architectural significance as a rare intact example of a nineteenth-century purpose-built clubhouse in the Victorian Renaissance style.

Notable members[edit]

Frederick Powlett (1811-1865) was a founding member in 1838 as well as being a founding member and the first recorded president of the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1838. He was a public servant, a police magistrate and later chief commissioner of Crown Lands.[citation needed]

Membership included Governors General Sir Isaac Isaacs, Sir Ninian Stephen, Archbishop Peter Hollingworth; Governors of Victoria Sir Henry Winneke, Sir James Gobbo, the Hon Alex Chernov AC; Chief Justices of Australia Sir John Latham, Sir Owen Dixon; High Court Justices Sir Daryl Dawson and Kenneth Madison Hayne AC; Chief Justices of Victoria Sir William Foster Stawell, Sir William Irvine, Sir Frederick Mann, Sir Edmund Herring, Sir Henry Winneke and Sir John Young; Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, politicians Sir John Bloomfield, Andrew Peacock, Admiral Sir William Bridges; Generals Sir Brudenell White, Sir William Johnston, artists Sir Arthur Streeton and Sir Daryl Lindsay; mining magnates Sir James Balderstone, Hugh Morgan, BHP-Billiton businessman Don Argus, and former head of Shell Australia and vice president of the International Olympic Committee Kevan Gosper.[3]


  1. ^ Farouque, Farah (16 January 2009). "Into the secretive world of men only". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Rachael Brown (25 November 2009). "Men's clubs remain women-free zones". ABC. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "Exclusive clubs feud over highrise plan". ABC Radio. 15 February 2000. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 

Coordinates: 37°48′49″S 144°58′21″E / 37.81361°S 144.97250°E / -37.81361; 144.97250