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Toastmaster Club at Palmerston

by Ashok Alexander

Opening Palmerston Toastmaster Club - Press Release

It is our pleasure to start a new Toastmaster Club at Palmerston Library, every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month. The meeting starts from 7.30pm to 9.00pm and we are looking for new members and guest. The opening day is 17th September 2018. It would be an informative session and all interested in improving speaking, leadership and confidence should try to attend. It will help career people, migrants and seniors alike. The mission of Toastmasters is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication & leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth. Attaching a History Blog of the 30plus years of Toastmasters in Darwin which completed its 1000th meeting last week. We currently have two clubs one lunchtime in CDU and another running in evenings at Casuarina Library. For more information, please visit

From Zero to One Thousand Meetings – Blog from our oldest Member - Henry Gray, DTM
I am not sure in what year the Darwin Toastmasters Club was chartered. It was certainly well before I arrived in the city referred to by Slim Dusty as ‘The Big Heart of the North’. My first experience with the Darwin Toastmasters Club dated from 1987. We moved to Darwin from Nhulunbuy in December 1986. I left behind my membership with a fledgling club that had been founded a few years earlier.

It was my appreciation of Toastmasters in Nhulunbuy that persuaded me to look up the Darwin Club. I discovered the club met weekly. Evening meetings were held at the Don Hotel in Cavanagh Street. They were dinner meetings, with the agenda happening in and around an evening meal. The social focus suited some members and may have been less appealing to others. I recall that one of the features was built around the Sergeant-of-Arms role, with people being reminded of the need to follow protocols. In hindsight, I recall a certain ‘friendly’ rivalry between members on the basis of contribution and performance.

Work commitments necessitated me taking a period of leave from the club. When I next inquired about Darwin Toastmasters, the club had moved from the Don to Darwin’s Yacht Club. Meetings were held fortnightly (I think) in the conference room attached to the club. Gatherings were convivial but the venue was small and at times impacted by noise from nearby social activities. The club had a healthy membership but occupation and employment requirements meant that absenteeism from meetings was an issue. (That has always been an issue for Darwin and the Charles Darwin University Clubs.)

Relocation, Relocation
Over the years Darwin Toastmasters has changed venues on quite a number of occasions. Spatial limitations at the Yacht Club forced the next of these shifts.

The club relocated (during the second half of the 1990’s from memory) to the Happy Gardens Restaurant in Parap. There was an ideal space behind the restaurant’s dining room that was occasionally used for functions but was otherwise vacant. One of our members, Jason Chan, a proprietor of Happy Gardens, offered the club this space on a rent free basis. Happy Gardens became the club’s home for the next few years.

Eventually, the group needed to relocate again because of upgrades and startups change to our Happy Gardens space. We moved to the Railway Club also in Parap.

Toastmaster members worked to renovate a large room at the front of the club, transforming a sparse, uninviting space that held junk into a quite large venue that more than met our meeting needs. Included in renovation were tasks which included floor, wall and ceiling restoration. Part of the renovations agreement gave toastmasters this space rent free, then at a rent reduced rate, for a number of years.

‘Moving’ History
Darwin Toastmasters’ next move was necessary because the Railway Club was changing the focus of its operation and needed the room which had accommodated in our needs for a number of years. Toastmasters had to vacate the room club members had transformed.

After a relatively short time at the Nightcliff Community Centre Darwin Toastmasters moved to its present locality, the community room at the Casuarina Public Library. There it will celebrate its 1000th meeting and hopefully many more to come.

Clubs in Tandem
The Charles Darwin University Speech masters Group possibly developed as an offshoot of Darwin Toastmasters. Initially there was not a great deal of shared relationship between the two groups. However, over time they grew together. When the CDU Club was formally chartered a number of its members took on dual club membership.

Both clubs have had their ups and downs in terms of expanding and diminishing numbers over the years. Both have held together because of stalwart support offered by key club members.

Without naming names, both clubs owe their survival to the resilience of their core groups. Sharing between the two clubs is facilitated by meeting arrangements. Darwin Toastmasters meet on the first and third Tuesday of each month during the evening. The Charles Darwin Group come together on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month for lunchtime meetings.

This means that people can move between the two clubs if they so wish.

Our Area
In area terms, there have been changes over years and not all of them good.

Darwin and Alice Springs have both survived over time. Although membership has fluctuated the clubs have stood firm.

Mount Isa was a flourishing club at one stage hosting area conferences in turn with Darwin and Alice Springs. It went through challenging times and I am unsure of its present status.

Sadly, the Nhulunbuy Club was disbanded many years ago. Efforts to get a club off the ground in Katherine have not really been successful.

A previous effort by Darwin Toastmasters to charter a club in Palmerston was unsuccessful. During the time of first attempt the Palmerston group used to meet at the old Return Services League club, which stood in part of the area now taken up by the Palmerston Water Park. Hopefully, an effort to re-establish a group in Palmerston will meet with better success.

Through all this, the Charles Darwin Toastmasters Group has evolved and reached a point of positive maturity. That is thanks to the efforts of those have gone before, along with the contribution and enthusiasm of the current committee.

I believe to way is ‘forward’ for our clubs both separately and together.

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