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Our Events over the Years

The club has always had a busy social calendar.

National Day celebrations were naturally the premier events each year often in the form of an annual Gala Ball, of which is documented through photographs taken in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s that are displayed in the club restaurant. Although the depression had a big impact on social events, by 1933, the National Day Ball held at the Melbourne Town Hall attracted again 500 people – many times more than the entire club membership at that stage.

Today, Swiss National Day is celebrated just as enthusiastically with a ‘Lampionparade’ for the children and their families along the Yarra back to the club house, followed by a booked out party at the club, along with a special luncheon for our senior members.

The 650th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation in 1941, was celebrated with a huge Gala Ball at Earl’s Court on Upper Esplanade in St. Kilda.  5 decades later,  Switzerland’s 700 year anniversary in 1991 was one of the most important events that the club has been involved in. In collaboration with the consulate, celebrations were planned throughout the year and involved:

  • participating in the Moomba procession with a float that won the most outstanding entry,
  • a Gala Ball at the Hilton,
  • a Swiss food festival,
  • a dinner dance and a luncheon for the Senior members,
  • various festivities at the club,
  • a picnic in Gembrook that attracted over 1,200 guests,
  • a consular reception, and
  • an exhibition of Swiss folk art and handicrafts and an exhibition of Swiss artists in Australia.

Participation in the ‘World Expo 88’ marked another grand event for the Swiss Club of Victoria. More than 50 members of our various interest groups took part in an extravagant three day Swiss exposé in Brisbane. It was a unique gathering of Swiss communities from all over Australia including some artists that were flown in from Switzerland especially for this event.

In a collaboration with three other German-speaking clubs, the Swiss Club participated in staging the Melbourne ‘Oktoberfest’ from 1983 to 2002. Not only did this event create a great deal of camaraderie between members and friends; and a special bond between the four clubs, it also generated some much needed income for the club, particularly in the early 80’s.

In April 2002, the Swiss Club organised and financed the first Swiss Festival in Flagstaff Gardens. The Swiss Club wanted to strengthen the friendship and collaboration, not only among its Interest Groups, but also with the other Swiss Groups in Victoria and thus chose the name Volksfest (‘Festival for the people’).  It was a great opportunity to showcase Swiss customs and food to the Melbourne public, as well as a chance for the individual groups to raise funds. The day was a success, however organizing an event in the CBD also meant a lot of bureaucracy. Subsequently, it was held successfully at the Austrian Club for many years. The yearly event steadily increased in popularity, attracting 1,000+ visitors. Organizing a festival is a lot of work for the already very busy Swiss Club Committee, thus the Swiss Festival became it’s own interest group in 2008.

Based on the original concept, several more festivals took place at the Austrian Club. In 2013 the Swiss Festival took a leap and returned back to a CBD location, this time to Queensbridge Square. Currently, the Swiss festival is held every 2nd year. 

These milestone events the Swiss Club spearheaded, are a great opportunity to engage the wider Swiss Community, but the every day life of the club is much more simple. Playing Jass on a Wednesday night, sharing a meal with friends in a familiar atmosphere, children attending SwissKids, looking after our Seniors and those that are alone or unwell, listening and dancing to the fabulous Kapelle Grüezi Mitenand playing the Swiss Club Fox and many more great Swiss tunes once a month, choir and dance practice, the ladies luncheons and young Swiss meetings – in short, solidarity and sharing our common heritage – this is still the primary purpose of the Swiss Club as it was over one hundred twenty years ago.

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