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Masons lodged in Queensland’s heritage

The Masonic Hall Franz Nyman built at Yandina, opened in 1908. (Courtesy Nyman family)

History

Masons lodged in Queensland’s heritage

The colony of Queensland was formed 160 years ago when it separated from NSW. That same year, writes AUDIENNE BLYTH, the first masons gathered.

Gorden Rick of Nambour has been a mason for 33 years. His membership has given him a network of friends.

He likes the lodge fellowship and the company of like-minded men, finds enjoyment in visiting other lodges, and helping one another other without discrimination.

The mandate is charity, giving to others.

Some might think that masonry is about secret lodges, aprons and funny handshakes. But any secrets the members may hold do not affect anyone who is not a member.

Mostly, after a meeting, members sit down and have a cup of tea or a beer together.

For meetings and the performance of ceremony, they dress in black dinner jackets.

In Queensland, white dinner jackets are worn in summer but this is not the case in other states. On the lodge room floor, no one has any idea who others are in real life.

The first recorded masonic activity in Queensland was in the state’s foundation year, when the inaugural meeting of the North Australian Lodge No.1 was held in Albert St, Brisbane, in July 1859.

A strong tradition in Queensland grew from those early meetings of men of English, Scottish and Irish origins.

By 1863, there were eight masonic lodges. In those formative times, members often came from the highest ranks of society such as the governor and members of parliament.

On the Sunshine Coast, the first masons met in 1896, when Rosslyn Lodge was formed in Nambour.

The first charter said that the monthly meeting should be at the time of the full moon.

The story has been told about early meetings under a full moon on the beach at Maroochydore, with members having sailed down the Maroochy River from Yandina.  Membership meant fellowship and networking with like-minded men with high ideals and charitable concerns.

By the end of World War I, most of the hinterland towns on the Sunshine Coast had a masonic lodge with its own hall.

In 1921, United Grand Lodge was formed with headquarters in a grand heritage-listed stone building in Ann St, Brisbane. Those members visit other lodges for installations upholding the standards of ritual.

In 2019, the number of lodges is reducing and some are amalgamating For example, Palmwoods and Woombye, Cooroy and Eumundi, Yandina and Maroochy. Rosslyn now meets at Yandina after the sale of the Nambour Masonic Hall.

Traditions and a 300-year philosophy are part of masonry.

The first lodge began in England in 1715, when tradesmen such as stonemasons joined together. Their tools and processes of building were used symbolically to impress certain truths on the mind of the member.

The square and compass are the symbols displayed in every lodge. God is seen as the greatest architect and these were His tools. Masonry accepts all religions, only a belief in a Supreme Being is required.

Franz Nyman in full masonic regalia displaying symbols of office.

Members wear regalia – a decorated collar and apron carry displaying the symbols of office. The highest officer is the Grand Master who wears the symbol of a compass. The Lodge Master wears the Square.

Of the two wardens, one wears a level and the other a plumb rule.

Just as a trade apprentice passed through three levels – apprentice, to craftsman to master mason – there are a similar three degrees in lodges today for a new member to rise through the ranks.

Masons are now referred to as freemasons. They are obliged to practice brotherly love, mutual assistance, equality, secrecy and trust for one another.

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