Scouting and Guiding in New South Wales

Scouting started in New South Wales, a State of Australia, in 1908. In the early years, local Boy Scout patrols and troops formed independently and several separate associations began operating including the Chums Scout Patrols, League of Boy Scouts, Girl Peace Scouts, Boys Brigade Scouts and Church Lads Brigade Scouts. These were later joined by The Boy Scouts Association, The Girl Guides Association and Life-Saving Scouts and Life Saving Guards of the Salvation Army.[1][2] Some local Scout groups moved affiliation between the different associations.

Scouting in New South Wales is now predominantly represented by Scouts Australia NSW Branch and Girl Guides NSW & ACT, a member organisation of Girl Guides Australia. There is also representation by the Baden-Powell Scouts' Association. There are ethnic Scouting organisations including the Australian Association of Scouts in Exile (AASE), Polish Scouting Association, ZHP,[3] Russian Scouts, Hungarian Scouts, Plast Ukrainian Scouts, Lithuanian Scouts, Latvian Scouts, Estonian Scouts and Guides and Homenetmen Armenian Scouts and Assyrian Eagle Scouts. There were formerly Maltese, Hellenic (Greek) and Vietnamese Scout associations.

Scouts Australia

Scouts Australia – New South Wales Branch
Headquarters102 Bennelong Parkway, Homebush Bay
  • 14,018 youth members
  • 4,237 adult members (2015)[4]
Chief ScoutGeneral The Hon. David Hurley AC, DSC (Retd)
Governor of New South Wales
Chief CommissionerDoug Menzies
AffiliationScouts Australia

Scouts Australia NSW Branch, formally The Scout Association of Australia New South Wales Branch, is a branch of Scouts Australia. In 1914, The Boy Scouts Association of the United Kingdom formed The Boy Scouts Association New South Wales Section which was incorporated in 1928 and, upon the formation of Scouts Australia in 1958, became its NSW branch.

The 2015 Scouts Australia NSW Annual Report indicated that there were 14,018 youth members of Scouts Australia in NSW and 4,237 adult members.[4] Scouts Australia NSW branch has 464 registered Scout Groups administered through 66 Districts in 10 Regions and operates programs for all of Scouts Australia youth sections of Joeys, Cubs, Scouts, Venturers and Rovers.

The Regions are North West, Golden West, Greater Western Sydney, Hume, Riverina, South Coast and Tablelands, North Coast, Sydney North, South Metropolitan and Hunter and Coastal. The "country" Regions have a larger area in general. In 2004, the then Chief Commissioner of Scouts Australia NSW branch, Graeme Fordham, discussed the future for Australian Scouting on radio.[5]

Activity Centres

Scouts Australia NSW Branch operates six activity centres:

Air Activity Centre – Opened in 1971, the Air Activity Centre is located at Camden Airport, Camden, 65 kilometres (40 mi) south-west of Sydney and has 4 Cessna 172's. The centre provides flying experiences, gliding and a flying school for pilot training.

Alpine Activity Centre – The Alpine Activity Centre is located at Jindabyne, 457 kilometres (284 mi) km south-west of Sydney, close to the Snowy Mountains and snow in winter. It consists of the Tony Balthasar Lodge and the Kanangra & Bluegum cottages.

Baden-Powell Scout Centre – The Baden-Powell Scout Centre was officially opened in February 1929 and was visited by Lord and Lady Baden-Powell in 1931. It is a 36-hectare (89-acre) site located at Pennant Hills adjoining Lane Cove National Park. Much of the early development work was done by the unemployed, who camped there during the Depression. There are accommodation and training facilities.

Cataract Scout Park – This 160-hectare (400-acre) park is located near Appin 71 kilometres (44 mi) south-west of Sydney and was given to the Scout Association by the Government of New South Wales in 1978. It has hosted three Australian Jamborees and the 16th World Scout Jamboree in 1987–1988. From 2010, the Australian Jamborees were held at Cataract Scout Park every six years. It can provide camping, bunk accommodation, and activities such as water slides, ropes courses, hiking, orienteering and an obstacle course.

Australian Scout Museum is located at the Newington Armory in Sydney Olympic Park with workshops and storage at Belfield and Granville.[6]

Water Activities Centre – The Water Activities Centre at Woolwich opened in 1973. It provides general experiences in canoeing, sailing and power boating and qualification courses including NSW Boat Licenses.

Several other centres are run by the Regions, such as Camp Ku-Ring-Gai Activity Centre, Ingleside Scout Camp, Camp Kurrajong, Camps Coutts, J. Harold Kaye Training Centre and Bundilla Scout Training Centre.

Sexual abuse cases

Scouts Australia and its NSW Branch were called before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for its failures in handling complaints against its leaders.

In 2014, Darryl Rubiolo, a former Scout Association of Australia, NSW Branch leader, publicity officer, leader trainer, St. George Area Commissioner and member of the New South Wales state branch council, was convicted of serial child sex offences against three boys aged 9, 13 and 14, between 1975 and 1987 while he was an official of the Scout Association of Australia. Rubiolo was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison with a non-parole period of one year.[7][8]

In 2012, Steven Larkins, a former leader in New South Wales was convicted and imprisoned for offences he had committed 15 years earlier.[9]

In February 2000, Roderick Albert Joseph CORRIE, a former NSW Branch Commissioner and scout leader of nearly thirty-two years was convicted of child sexual offences. "Corrie, one of the most senior and highly decorated Scouts in NSW, was jailed for seven years in February 2000 after pleading guilty in the District Court to eight most serious of 77 charges of sexually abusing children as young as 11, including rape and buggery, occurring 1969-1995. Two years earlier, Corrie had been convicted of eight charges of “aggravated indecent assault” and placed on a bond, given counseling and 70 hours of community service." The head of Scouts Australia, "Dr. Bruce Munro, apologized to the families of those abused after the Sydney Morning Herald obtained a copy of a 14-page report written by a senior Scout leader in 1981 that detailed serious allegations of Corrie abusing four boys, one aged 12 at the time. Munro admitted that those allegations were not properly investigated or referred to the police and that although Corrie was initially suspended, he was then simply allowed to transfer as a leader to a North Shore Scouting group. Even after police began investigating Corrie in 1994, he was allowed to continue having contact with, and sexually abusing, scouts until at least May 1995."[10]

Mark Geoffrey Fisher, scoutmaster at 1st Hunters Hill troop in New South Wales from 1969 to 1988, pleaded guilty to charges of 35 sex offenses involving eight boys aged between 11 and 15 between 1971-88.[11]

Girl Guides NSW and ACT

Girl Guides NSW & ACT
HeadquartersLocked Bag 950, Strawberry Hills, NSW, 2012
AffiliationGirl Guides Australia

In 1920 Dame Margaret Davidson, wife of the Governor of NSW, called a special meeting of prominent women in Sydney, to try to interest them in starting Guiding in the State. It was decided that Guides was not for them as girls already had sufficient opportunities to be outdoors. Nella Levy read about this meeting in a newspaper and wrote to the newspaper contradicting this feeling. Levy was subsequently was invited to tea at Government House by Davidson. Davidson told her "Queen Mary would like to see Girl Guides in New South Wales, and I want you to start it."[12] Levy took the challenge. She travelled widely, recruiting volunteers, forming Companies and enrolling Guides.

There are 11 Girl Guide Regions in NSW & ACT which include Northern Sydney, Greater Rivers, Cumberland Plains and Southern Sydney Rivers (the 4 regions of Sydney) and North Pacific Coast Region, Twin Rivers Region, South Coast and Highlands Region, Coastal Valleys Region, Central West Region, North West Inland Region and ACT&South East Region.


Araluen – Araluen is located near Jindabyne. The site is popular for both winter and summer sports activities.

Glengarry – Glengarry is situated on the edge of the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. It comprises 34 hectares of bushland with established gardens and cleared areas.

RTS Tingira – RTS Tingira is located in Cabarita, New South Wales. It is a watersports centre and offers activities such as canoeing, kayaking, rafting, rowing and sailing.

Tara – It was announced in March 2009 that Tara, the Guides' campside in Silverdale will be sold to the Roads and Traffic Authority to be 'compensatory habitat' managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The Olave Centre is the largest in house accommodation area at Tara. The house sleeps 27 in dormitory style bedrooms. The Olave Centre also has a large commercial kitchen, a common dining and lounge area, and a large bathroom, including one for disabled use. The internal courtyard is used for inside activities and outside dining. The Brownie Cottage sleeps 25 in bunk bed dormitory-style accommodation. There is a bathroom, fully equipped kitchen and a large dining/lounge area. There is also an open fireplace. The back veranda is an excellent spot for looking at the stars. The Northern Room adjoins Brownie Cottage. It is a fully self-contained studio which sleeps 4. The Northern Room can be accessed through Brownie Cottage as additional accommodation or rented separately for smaller groups. The Northern Room was originally a garage. Tolhurst Cottage is quaint cottage-style building with terracotta roofing and an open fireplace. Girl Guides NSW & ACT acquired the property in 1971. Prior to this, Tara was originally a cattle property of over 101 acres (0.41 km2), with a fairly large house, a small caretaker's cottage (which started its life as a workman's cottage at Warragamba Dam), a new set of cattle yards and holding yards, and a large equipment shed, with various fowl yards. The property was fenced into four paddocks – complete with a dam and a semi-dry creek – which bordered a permanent creek that flowed into the Nepean River at Bent's Basin. Tara was the name of the original owner's daughter and it seemed fitting to keep some history in the name of the property. After the site was acquired by the Guides, the stock holding paddock was turned into a sportsfield and carpark, and the equipment shed was fitted out with shelves for camping equipment. Paddocks were divided into camping areas, enclosed fireplaces were built and water was piped to all sites. In October 1971 "Tara" was opened officially by the State President Lady Cutler, in the presence of the State Commissioner, Lady Wyndham. Shortly afterwards, 2000 trees were planted on a tree planting day.[13] In 1972, the Nella Levy Chapel was built, to commemorate Girl Guides NSW first Guider.

Gang Shows and other theatrical experiences

There are a number of Gang Shows put on in NSW. A Gang Show is a Scout variety show.

  • Kirrawee Gang Show – started in 1959, located in Southern Sydney.[14]
  • Albury Gang Show – Started in 1965, in Albury, New South Wales.[15]
  • Cumberland Gang Show – started in 1970, located in the Greater Western Sydney Region.[16]
  • Hornsby Gang Show – started in 1974, located in the Hornsby District, north of Sydney.[17]
  • Korimul Gang Show – started in 1975, located in Wollongong.[18]
  • Central Coast Gang Show – Started in 1986. Located at North Gosford about 1 hour north of Sydney.[19]

See also


  1. Robert Campbell (1997). "Australian Scout History". Dorset, England, UK: Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  2. Robert Campbell (1993) Origins of the Scouts, Sydney, Australia
  3. "Independent Australian Scouts".
  4. "Scouts NSW Annual Report 2015" (PDF). Scouts Australia – NSW Branch. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 February 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  5. Fordham, Graeme (12 November 2004). "What Future for Australian Scouting?" (transcript). ABC Radio National. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  6. Australian Scout Museum Museums and Galleries of NSW
  8. 19 February 2014
  9. "Report of Case Study No. 1" (PDF). Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (PDF). Commonwealth of Australia. March 2014. pp. 1–57. ISBN 978-1-925118-12-4. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  10. {{cite web|url= July 2019
  11. {{cite web|url= July 2019
  12. Abraham, Anne; Deo, Hermant (2006). "A Foucauldian Approach to Founder's Influence in a Non-Profit Organization". The Business Review. 6 (1): 29–44. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  13. "Tara: The Site of a Million Stars". Girl Guides Australia NSW &ACT. Retrieved 15 May 2009.
  14. Kirrawee Gang Show
  15. Albury Gang Show
  16. Cumberland Gang Show
  17. Hornsby Gang Show Archived 22 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  18. Korimul Gang Show
  19. Central Coast Gang Show
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