Introduction to Lodge Cavanbah

On 25th February 2003, Lodge Cavanbah No. 231 on the register of The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory became 100 years of age. This is the longest serving community organisation in the town of Byron Bay. Only the railway and the lighthouse have served the town longer in a continuous capacity. Freemasonry in Byron Bay has operated in the town longer than for the Byron Shire Council which commenced in 1906, or the Surf Life Saving Club which commenced in 1907 and the Boy Scouts Group which started in 1910. A history of Lodge Cavanbah for the first 50 years from 1903 to 1953 was completed by Very Worshipful Brother R.Brownell, Past District Grand Inspector of Workings in 1953 and that history forms a large part of this, the 100-year history set out in the following pages. Over the 100 years to 2003, Byron Bay as a township has seen many changes. For many of those years, Byron Bay was an industrial town and a seaport with a number of varied industries providing employment for many people. These industries had a big influence on the membership of Lodge Cavanbah and at their operating peaks swelled the number of members considerably. An example is Norco Ltd., who within the first 100 years has provided the Lodge with 12% of the occupations of the members, followed by the meat works A. W. Anderson Pty. Ltd., which provided just over 8%. In earlier years the Lodge has been known to change the date of a regular meeting to coincide with the Managers conference of the Norco company when it was held in Byron Bay. Today (in 2003) Byron Bay has an extensive light industrial area situated west of the main residential and business area. The town is very much a seaside resort town and most popular with backpackers from all over the world. In addition, it is the holiday

destination for many Australians and especially families, together with visitors from all over the world. All these people come to enjoy the miles of beaches and the surf and also the scenic beauty of the nearby hinterland and all this in a temperate climate which allows swimming and surfing all year.

The longest time of any company and/or industry operating in Byron Bay was when Norco had an operation in town from 1895 till 1975, and at its peak employed up to 450 people. The mining and processing company Zircon operated from 1939 to 1968 and at its peak employed 150 people. Whaling had a short history in Byron Bay from 1954 to 1962 and employed upwards of 50 people. The meatworks like Norco had an extended operation in Byron Bay from 1913 to 1983 and was a big employer. Shipping was another industry also providing the area with work for many people and like the other industries over the years provided Lodge Cavanbah with many of its members and visitors. Many local people thought that with the shift of Norco to Lismore and the closing of the meat works that Byron Bay would wither and become a small unknown seaside town with no future. How wrong they were! A look at the list of occupations of members shows the effect these industries had on the membership of Lodge Cavanbah. With the demise of these industries, membership declined in numbers and today is about one-third of what it was 50 years ago, and very similar to the membership at the time of the Lodge’s consecration in 1903. At the peak times of these industries, the effect on Freemasonry and the Lodge was felt by the attendances at meetings. In those years from the late 1940’s to 1970’s attendances at annual Installations and the December meeting was often as many as 150 and a high of 166 occurred at one meeting.

Minutes of consecration and dedication meeting of Lodge Cavanbah No. 231 held in the lodge room Byron Bay on the 25 th. February 1903

Grand Lodge present W. Bro. James Anderson DGIW W. Bro. W. C. Fenwick, W.Bro.B.Crowe.

The District Grand Inspector of Workings V. W. Bro. Anderson by duly delegated authority from the Most Worshipful Grand Master opened an occasional lodge in the first degree at 8.00pm.

The Lodge was then passed to the second degree and afterwards raised to the third degree. W. Bro. Anderson then proceeded to the ceremony of consecration and dedication of the Lodge according to ancient custom assisted by V. W. Bro. Renwick, W. Bro. Morris, W. Bro.Cope, W. Bro Frost and various Lodges of the District 18.

After the dispensation and warrant were presented the Lodge was properly dedicated and proclaimed duly formed for the purposes of Freemasonry. Very Worshipful Bro. Renwick then took the chair and lowered the Lodge to the second degree. The installation of Bro. Wallis was then proceeded with. In due course the Lodge was raised to the third degree and after the retirement of all Master Masons a Board of Installed Masters was opened. W. Bro. Wallis was then duly installed in the chair of King Solomon according to ancient custom.

The Lodge being resumed in the third degree and the brethren re-admitted the Worshipful Master after lowering the Lodge to the second degree and then to the first degree invested Bro. Clifford as Senior Warden and Bro. Locke as Junior Warden.

The following brethren were then nominated for affiliation: Bro. Wooldridge Newrybar Bro. P.Wooldridge Byron Bay Bro. Mildenhall Bro. Ferguson Bangalow Bro. Johnstone All proposed by the Worshipful Master and seconded by Bro. McLean.

Bro. J. Brough Bro. A. P. Goodwin ) Bro. M. Chesting ) Bro. H. Cromeistone )

Proposed by the Worshipful Master Seconded by Bro. Clifford

The labours of the evening being ended the Worshipful Master closed the Lodge in Peace, Love and Harmony at 10.30pm.