By Henry Drury

In 1919 the flat land of St. Johns farm, about 10 kilometres north of Melbourne CBD, became the fledging Aero Club’s grassy landing field. In 1921 the Commonwealth Government acquired that property, which then officially became the Essendon Airport and remains so to this day. The airport’s WW2 defence activities led the Essendon Football Club, mundanely named the “Don’s” to adopt the soubriquet of the mighty ‘Bombers” – well they will be again one day!

The long-established and successful Rotary Club of Essendon, looking to widen Rotary membership, chartered Essendon North with 22 eager members at a gala dinner on 24 February 1976. Three of them, John Boundy, Max Nichols and Sam Pennisi are still actively involved and regularly attend club meetings. 

Those early days saw the out and proud members running a profitable fund-raiser spinning wheel raffle at the now defunct Moonee Ponds market together with pre-Bunnings BBQ’s generating funds for community needs and the donation of a much needed mini-bus to the Essendon City Council for transport of the elderly. Adding to the charitable purse they were also seen conducting blood pressure tests in local shopping centres.

Today, numbering about 30 members, the club meets (COVID restrictions permitting) at the Hyatt Hotel located in the rapidly developing airport estate now known as Essendon Fields.

Donations In Kind and “Youth” are strongly supported in the broad mix of Club activities with emphasis changing with the demand and ability to supply.

Currently, major fund-raising activities have been, and hopefully will be again, an Australia Day Breakfast, Oaks Day Luncheon and Christmas Tree sales - all held under COVID restrictions.

With broadcaster Peter Hitchener OAM as guest speaker, this year’s successful breakfast raised funds in support of “Love Me Love You” a NFP organisation founded by ex-Essendon Grammar boy and retired VFL footballer Lance Piciane to “…empower the community to create positive change for Mental Health”.

And to complete the fund–raising circle, the club ran a welcome “past its use by date” Christmas Tree mulching opportunity on Sunday 3 January 2021.

Footnote: Your correspondent has been a fickle on-and-off Bomber supporter since the late 1950s.