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Welcome to the GAAC Website below is a short history of the

GERMAN AUSTRIAN AUSTRALIAN CLUB, WODONGA.  1960 - 2014

The German Austrian Club was founded on the 16th of July, 1960. Foundation members were Willi Klimt, Kurt Mueller, Toni Krischer,Erwin Klein and Manfred Teissl.

An old house was bought in Hovell Street and converted into a Clubhouse.

Migrants from Germany and Austria arrived in Bonegilla during the 50s and 60s and many were lonely and homesick. The Club became a meeting place for these people. Here they could gather, relax, talk of “home” and speak their own language. For many years it was a safe haven for people without family or friends.

 

The Hovell Street premises were renovated by volunteers and many memorable functions were held within those walls.  Membership grew and soon larger functions, like the Annual Ball and the New Year’s Eve Ball had to be held at the Wodonga Civic Centre to accommodate the 500 or so revelers.

 

The mid-seventies were busy times for the Club and its members. Not only were monthly functions held at the clubrooms, but there were regular screenings of German Films at the Wodonga Theatrette. There were interclub visitations to Clubs in Melbourne and Geelong and special luncheons and traditional German/Austrian festivals were held.  The members even held a Maifest with the traditional raising of a 30 foot Maypole in the front yard. This tree was brought from Beechworth under great duress. Folk dancing, Maypole climbing, singing, eating and drinking completed this fine day.

 

The Wodonga Hospital approached the Club and asked for their involvement in holding an Oktoberfest to raise funds for the Hospital. These Fests took 11 months to organize and ended up raising over $27,000.00 for the Hospital. The Army, the Hospital Staff and the staff from Uncle Ben’s joined the German Austrian Club as volunteers and as suppliers of Equipment. The Club collected funds for the Red Cross and the Hurricane Tracy Victims in Darwin.

 

Membership grew and it was decided to build new Clubrooms. Plans were drawn up for the existing site in Hovell Street, but were not acceptable to the Council as there was insufficient space for car parking.

 

Through a connection with the Albury/Wodonga Development Corporation the club was offered land in McFarland Road, Wodonga and after much thought the Club purchased the land, drew up new plans, took out a loan from the Bank and began to build new Clubrooms. and finally sold the land in Hovell Street.

 

On the 31.05.80 the foundation stone of the new clubhouse was laid in the presence of Mr. Lou Lieberman, Minister for Planning and the Mayor of Wodonga, Councilor Rex Chamberlain, who were accompanied by the Club President, Mr. Stefan Eitler and the Club Secretary, Mr. Hanns Wittwer.

 

With the donation of thousands of voluntary working hours the Clubhouse was soon completed and the official opening took place with much pomp on the 28.05.1983. but the Club still had not been granted a liquor Licence – this in itself was a great battle – but even that dream became a reality in the middle of 1984.  The Clubrooms were valued at $250,000.00 and are a monument to great achievements of dedicated members and their leaders.

 

The motto of the Club is "to encourage and enhance the German and Austrian culture, language and heritage". Through a number of traditional festivals the members have kept this motto alive.

 

The Club also fostered a number of interest groups such as the Folk dancing Group, Air-rifle Shooting Group, Billiard Group, Skat Group, Chess Group, Table Tennis Group and finally the Darts Group. Sadly some of these Subgroups no longer exist.

 

A Ladies Fundraising Committee was formed and these wonderful women raised all the monies needed to furbish the inside of the Club, from tables and chairs to crockery and cutlery for the kitchen, from a cake fridge to Baine Maries, from carpets to curtains. 

 

Gradually over the years more and more Australians became members, loving the good food, the great atmosphere and the general feeling of belonging to a worthwhile Club. In 1997/98 it was decided to add the name “Australian” to the Club name and it is now known as the German Austrian Australian Club (Wodonga) Inc.

Over the last 5 years the Committee has concentrated on improvements to the Clubhouse and grounds. In the last 12 months we have installed a disabled toiled and tarred all the Car parks 

We are a viable Club  with around 300 members coming from as far away as Sydney and Melbourne.

New Members are always welcome 

The German Austrian Australian Club (Wodonga) Inc. is still a vital part of the Albury and Wodonga area and is proud of its achievements over the last 53 years.

 

For a more detailed history of the Club,

read the book

"Dreams & Memories"

Fifty years in the life of the

German-Austrian Australian Club(Wodonga) Inc.

1960-2010

by Doina Eitler

Copies available from the Club Office

German-Austrian Australian Club (Wodonga) Inc. A0019325P   2013