In July 1988 Alf Bridle wrote a letter to the Natcom Secretary, requesting the names of members who lived in W.A., with the idea of forming a branch. He consequently had a reply a couple of weeks later with a list of 23 names of people from Roebourne to Perth to Denmark to Kalgoorlie.
In a letter, dated the 12th August, he wrote to all the members who were listed suggesting that they get together once a month for a social evening. He set the initial evening as Wednesday the 29th September 1988 at the Pine creek Tavern in Forrestfield (being his local waterhole). All state members received this letter to inform them of the meeting just in case they were in the city at the time.
On that evening 3 members accompanied by about 4 non-members turned up and over a meal and a few ales it was decided that they would continue this event on the last Wednesday of each month. Membership steadily increased from that time and at writing there are some 1500 to 1600 members in WA.
The first issue of the Ithaca times was printed for March 1989 and was a single page. It has been in print ever since with eleven issues each year and grown to ten pages of information for members. The masthead, as drawn by Alf for the first issue, is still the original design. By June 1992, 210 copies of the Times were being printed of which half were being posted to country members.
In May of 1989 a bank account was set up with the Commonwealth Bank using a $200.00 grant from Natcom. Alf administered this account with two other signatories, Burnie Oliver and Mal Slater. By the end of the first year the account showed a healthy $600.00. For the first couple of years Alf was the Newsletter editor, Treasurer, Membership officer and meeting chairperson. Brian Lowther was the ride co-ordinator for a long time. Pam and Dick Hendron organised the raffles and in later years did all the organising of the Over the Hill Rallies.
In October 1989 the meeting venue was moved to the Lynwood Arms due to the fact that our numbers were increasing and the Pine Creek Tavern meeting area was a little small. We were now getting some 40 people to a meeting. Our next move was to ‘A’ Shed, Fremantle in June 1992. This was a little more central as we now had members in Rockingham, Fremantle, North of the City and Eastern Suburbs.
In May 1993 the meeting venue was moved to the Leopold Hotel in Bicton. A further change was made in November 1993 when we went back to ‘A’ Shed. Then in April 1994 we moved to the Raffles Hotel at Canning Bridge. This was to become the home of the Perth Branch for the next nine years. Then a bombshell. The Raffles hotel was to be sold and possibly demolished so we had to find a new home. This turned out to be the Harp Tavern in Belmont.
During our time at the Raffles several other branches were formed. The first was Fremantle followed by Joondalup, Armadale and Warnbro Sound Wanderers (not necessarily in that order).
The Bunbury Branch had been going for quite some years under the guidance of Wayne Miller. So when Alf made a suggestion at the Alice Springs AGM in 1994 that WA would like to hold an AGM it was greeted with “About time!” by all the delegates. So over time the 1998 AGM was organised with Alf as the co-ordinator and Wayne Miller as the Bunbury contact. It was very successful with only a couple of minor hitches.
The Club in WA has gone from strength to strength with branches in Esperence, Denmark, Kalgoorlie and Geraldton. As Alf was once heard to say “I never imagined it would get this big.”