Lodge Cavanbah 1902

Lodge Cavanbah had it’s genesis at the Pier Hotel at Byron Bay in 1902 when a meeting attended by Brothers A. E Wallis, W. H. Clifford, J. N. Ferguson, G. H. Wooldridge, A. Kirk, M. McLean and S. H. White decided to apply to Lodge Richmond River No. 77 (Lismore) for endorsement for a petition for the formation of a Lodge at Byron Bay. The endorsement of Lodge Richmond River was obtained and the petition for a charter was approved by the Grand Lodge New South Wales, and the original warrant issued on the 23rd January 1903.

The foundation Master, Worshipful Brother A. F. Wallis owned a farm property at Myocum. His name is still perpetuated by Wallis’s Hill on Myocum Road. A more enthusiastic Mason had not resided in the District and evidence of his enthusiasm was his regular attendance at Lodge Richmond River after a journey of over 30 miles by horseback on what were only rough tracks and taking at that time at least two days. He disposed of his farm property and died in 1928 in Queensland.

In 1906 Worshipful Brother Wallis was appointed District Grand Inspector of Workings for the District which embraced Casino to the Tweed. The travelling entailed for that officer in those days was not like it is today with very few roads and mostly only tracks and usually by horse or foot. A splendid oil painting of Very Worshipful Brother Wallis was presented to the Lodge by one of his daughters and hangs on the west wall, next to the Senior Warden’s pedestal in the current Lodge room.

The foundation Senior Warden Brother W. H. Clifford was one of the most esteemed and loved men in the district and played quite a big part in placing Norco in the position in which it was in the 1950’s. He was Secretary and afterwards general Manager of that company. His son Worshipful Brother R. Clifford occupied the chair as master in 1936. Worshipful Brother J. E. Glasgow the Immediate Past Master was a saw miller and auctioneer. Among his activities was the establishment of sand-line brick works at Byron Bay and the establishment of a sawmill. Several residences at Byron Bay were built with the bricks,but the works did not prosper and were eventually removed to Bondi. Brother M. McLean the Senior Deacon was then proprietor of the Great Northern Hotel at Byron Bay and afterwards the proprietor of the Fitzroy Hotel at Coffs Harbour. He was quite a good friend of the lodge and for a long period Mrs McLean provided the supper after the meetings. Brother J. W. Mildenhall was the Junior Deacon and was an engine driver at Norco. He gave long and valuable service to Lodge Cavanbah, which is detailed in a later chapter. Brother P. G. Wooldridge the Inner Guard was a farmer at Broken Head. His son Worshipful Brother Percy Wooldridge later occupied the master’s chair in 1950. The Tyler was Brother J. Brough who at the time was a ganger on the railway. Brother A. H. Nelson was the first secretary and was the Sergeant of Police at Byron Bay for some 10 years.

The first Treasurer was Brother W. Brandon who at the time was Manager of Norco, a position he held for a number of years, but unfortunately lost his life in a motor accident on the Clunes Hill in 1914.

Brother H. J. Wooldridge a steward was a farmer at Federal and for many years was a most regular attendee at the lodge meetings. Another steward was Brother G. H. Wooldridge who was a builder and contractor from Newrybar. He was elected Worshipful Master in 1906 and again in 1912 and 1913. Gerry, as he was known, was a most wonderful enthusiast in the early days of the lodge_

Brother J. G. Locke whose name appears on the charter as the Junior Warden was a storekeeper in Shirley Street, Byron Bay. He did not continue in office as at the election in 1904 Brother G. H. Wooldridge was elected as Senior Warden and Brother P. G. Wooldridge as Junior Warden.

The petition for a Charter being in order and having been granted, the Lodge was officially opened on the 25th February 1903 when the Consecration and Dedication ceremony was carried out according to Ancient custom by Very Worshipful Brother Anderson, District Grand Inspector of Workings who was accompanied by Very Worshipful Brothers Fenwick and Crane. Seventy-one brethren signed the Presence Book, of whom 35 were from Lodge Richmond River No. 77, seven from Lodge Tweed, four from Lodge Casino, and other brethren. With the exception of the Secretary, the foundation members were all members of Lodge Richmond River.

The names of the brethren on the Charter are: A. F. Wallis, J. G. Locke, M. McLean, W. Brandon, A. Kirk, and H. J. Wooldridge. At the opening of the Lodge Worshipful Brother A. F. Wallis was installed as the Worshipful Master and Brothers W. H. Clifford and J. G. Locke were invested as Senior and Junior Wardens. At the succeeding meeting in March 1903 only Brothers Clifford, Locke and Wallis were members as they had been invested at the opening. A resolution was moved by Worshipful Brother Wallis and seconded by Brother Clifford that Brothers P. G. Wooldridge, G. H. Wooldridge, J. E. Glasgow, J. N. Ferguson, W. Johnson, J. W. Mildenhall, A. P. Goodwin, A. H. Belson, M. McLean, H. Livingston, J. Brough, and M. Chisler be accepted as affiliating members. This motion was duly carried.

The election of the Officers then took place at the same meeting and were as follows:

Immediate Past Master J E Glasgow
Senior Deacon M McLean
Junior Deacon J W Mildenhall
Inner Guard P G Wooldridge
Tyler J Brough
Secretary A H Belson
Treasurer W Brandon
Stewards H J Wooldridge & G H Wooldridge


The following candidates were proposed for initiation at the same meeting: Messrs J. Cowan, T. Torrens, A. E. Brown, A. Harrison, H. R. Anstey and J. Wilson.

At the dedication of the Lodge a most trying time was experienced by those present owing to the excessively hot night and the smallness of the hall. The room was packed but fortunately Lodge Richmond River had provided plenty of fans. A special train from Lismore was chartered by Lodge Richmond River for the occasion to carry the brethren to the opening. The driver of the train was Worshipful Brother Sutton,who was at that time, the Worshipful Master of Lodge Richmond River. The train was scheduled to depart from Byron Bay at midnight, but eventually left at 2.00am. The balance sheet of Lodge Richmond River for 1903 shows an item “Train to Byron Bay 14 Pounds”. The banquet following the dedication and opening was held in the sample room of the Great Northern Hotel and the catering was carried out by Worshipful Brother J. I. Smith of Lismore at a cost of Sixteen Pounds Fifteen Shillings ($33.50) exclusive of liquor. The original By-laws of the Lodge were accepted and adopted from Lodge Richmond River’s in globo. The guarantors of the lodge at that time were Brothers Wallis, Clifford and Mc Lean and the amount guaranteed was 50 Pounds ($100.00) to cover the purchase of furniture. The original guarantee remained in force until 1910 when Brothers T. Armstrong, F. Mills, T. Lee, and J. Gill became guarantors for 300 Pounds ($600.00) in connection with the erection of the Temple in Fletcher Lane. In 1913 the guarantors were altered to Brothers Armstrong and McLean for the same amount and in 1921 Brother Armstrong became the sole guarantor for 100 pounds ($200.00). When the guarantee was released Brother Armstrong was made a life member of the Lodge. The first authority to operate on the bank account with the E. S. & A. Bank was in the names of Brothers Wallis, Clifford and Brandon. The Tyler at that time was a paid officer, being allowed 5 shillings (50 cents) per meeting. In 1904 the Lodge finances were the subject of revision and dues were raised to five shillings per meeting for town members and three shillings and sixpence for country members, and the Initiation fee was six guineas ($12.60). In November of 1904 it was decided to write to all members reminding them of their dues outstanding. The organ first used was loaned to the Lodge by a Mr Martyn. In 1906 it was decided to return it to Mr Martyn and “await the opportunity of getting a really good instrument”. It was decided in 1907 to purchase an organ as an adjunct to the ceremonies, and one was purchased from Palings the cost being seventeen pounds ten shillings ($35.00). Later in 1921 a piano was purchased from Brother R. Robinson who was head lighthouse keeper at the time at Byron Bay. The first emergent meeting was held on the 3rd June 1903 when six candidates were passed to the second degree. The occasion of the first raising in the lodge was celebrated by a banquet generously provided by Mrs McLean. This lady acted the part of the fairy Godmother to the Lodge in it’s infancy in respect to the suppers and banquets and was greatly endeared to the members by her kindly thoughts and actions. The initial Ball of Lodge Cavanbah was held on the 30th September 1904 in the Literary Institute. The ball was a great success and tickets were one pound one shilling each ($2.10) A loss of ten pounds nine shillings and eleven pence ($20.99) was experienced with this ball. Over the years the ball became an annual event and was very much looked forward to by the members and families and continued until 1965. The original meeting night of the Lodge was the Tuesday on or before the full moon, and this was altered on the 13th June 1905 to the Friday on or before the full moon. This was later changed on the 22nd July 1910 to the Friday on or about the full moon and again changed in April 1921 to a Thursday instead of the Friday. The reference to the full moon indicates the progress made in the method of transport. When the Lodge was Consecrated there were no motor vehicles and the only means of transport was per medium of the horse or by foot. On the 19th January 1923 the day of the meeting was again altered to the Third Thursday in the month and this day has been maintained ever since.