A Life in Guiding

Margaret Barbour


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Compiled and Written by Margaret Barbour

Uploaded October 2019 but written many years prior to that date.

This history is in two parts. The first part - History of Essendon District Guides - has been compiled by Margaret from `The Annals of Essendon - Volume 2 (1925 to 1962). The Annals of Essendon is a summary of the history of Essendon as reported in the local newspapers of the time, primarily the Essendon Gazette. It was compiled by R. W. (Bob) Chalmers, a 2nd cousin of Margaret Barbour. Margaret further extracted and summarised the items that related to Guiding in the district and this has been provided in the first part of this page.

The second part is Margaret's recollections of the commencement of Guiding in the Strathmore District.

Margaret joined the Girl Guides in 1941 and maintained an involvement with the organisation for all her life. Margaret was the leader of the 1st Aberfeldie Guides from 1947 to 1955. In 1961 Margaret established the 2nd Strathmore Girl Guides and ran the group for 18 years to 1979. In 1980 Margaret was appointed as the Strathmore Girl Guide District Commissioner, the position which she held until 1985. There were many other appointments and involvements in the organisation over the years.


The Girl Guides groups were active in the District – but reports from the various groups were not sent into the local newspaper regularly for publication. So these events are just a glimpse of the activities that were on the go for the Girl Guides in the District.

In the following table the Page No. refers to the page in the Annals of Essendon Volume 2.

Page No.
8 1925 Our Girl Guides - A report on the Girl Guide Movement recorded the existence of the following groups:
1st Moonee Ponds – attached to St. Thomas’ Church – 20 girls with Miss Ainsworth.
1st Ascot Vale – meet in St Pauls Hall, Ascot Vale – with Miss Bullen.
1st Essendon – attached to Christ Church – 40 girls with Mrs. HO Rivers.
1st Maribyrnong – with Miss Mobb.
1926 A Meeting was held in the Lodge Room of the Moonee Ponds Town Hall to form the local Girl Guides Association – with Mrs A V Hiskens in the Chair. Mrs Gavan Duffy was appointed District Commission for Essendon.
Miss Violet Hill was in attendance at St. Thomas’ Memorial Hall to enrol girls aged between 7 and 11 as Junior Girl Guides (Brownies).
The Essendon Girl Guides and Rangers held a Grand Display at the Moonee Ponds Town Hall to promote the Movement.
The 1st Aberfeldie Girl Guide Pack celebrated its second anniversary at St. Andrews Hall. Miss L Castell was in charge.
100 Girl Guides and 80 Brownies from the Essendon District gathered at Queen’s Park to take part in the Girl Guides’ Annual Sports. Troops represented came from Moonee Ponds, Aberfeldie and Essendon.  Moonee Ponds won the Sports. They had been successful every year since the inception of the sports, except 1932.
The Annual Meeting of the Essendon District Branch of the Girl Guides Association was held in the Essendon Town Hall.
President., Mrs G T Fitzgerald, and other members of the Committee, were re-elected. Reports were received from 1st Pascoe Vale Guides, 1st Essendon Guides, 1st Moonee Ponds Guides, 1st Ascot Vale Guides, 1st Aberfeldie Guides and the 1st Pascoe Vale (St Andrews) Brownies Pack.
The Aberfeldie Guide Company retained the Championship Cup at the Annual Sports of the Essendon District Girl Guides held on the Lowther Hall Recreation Field. Companies competing included 1st Moonee Ponds Guides, 1st Pascoe Vale Guides, 1st Ascot Vale Guides and 1st Aberfeldie Guides.
Mrs. G. Thos. Fitzgerald was elected as President of the Girl Guides Association for the 11th successive year at the Annual Meeting held in the Lodge Room of the Moonee Ponds Town Hall. The secretary was Miss Lowther Graves.
Many of Essendon’s Boy Scouts and Girl Guides were among the 5,000 Scouts, Cubs, Sea Scouts, Rovers, Guides and Brownies who marched onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground arena as part of a Memorial Service to pay homage to the memory of the late Lord Baden Powell, Chief Scout and founder of the Scouting Movement.
The Boys Scouts and Girl Guides from Groups in the Essendon District spent a pleasant day at Riddell on the occasion of the formal handing over of the Rotary Youth Camp to the local Boy Scout Association by the President of the Essendon Rotary Club, Rotarian E. Shortland.
Over 300 cubs, scouts, and Girl Guides accompanied by parents and friends travelled to the Camp site in five buses.
Note: The camp was named Rowallan after Lord Rowallan who succeeded the late Lord Baden Powell as the World Head of the Scouting Movement.
The 1st Strathmore Boy Scout Group now comprised two Cub Packs and one Scout Troop. A Scout Hall was planned when funds became available.
The Report presented at the Annual Meeting of the Essendon District Boy Scouts Association revealed that the membership had increased by 25% to 896 in the past year. Two new Troops – 3rd Essendon and 2nd Strathmore, were formed and a new Troop was being established in Pascoe Vale in the Strathmore North area.
A plaque was unveiled at the 200 acre Rowallan Rotary Scout and Guide Camp by the Chief Commissioner of Scouts. District Scouts took control of the site from the Rotary Club.
Mrs. Fitzgerald died on 23rd April – she was a prominent citizen connected with many charitable organizations. She was President of the Essendon Girl Guides Association for many years, and served the Movement as the District Commissioner.
The 1st Strathmore Scout Troop applied to the City of Broadmeadows for use of land on the south side of Balmanno Creek Reserve, facing Glenbervie Road. The City Engineer reported that the area between Glencoe and Woodland Street would serve the purpose.
The President of the Rotary Club of Essendon, Mr Syd Mills, handed over the deeds of the Rowallan Camp Site to Mr Sanderson of the District Scouts Association in a dignified ceremony at Riddell.
The Essendon Sea Ranger Crew held the official launching of the `S R S Galatea’ in the St Johns Presbyterian Sunday School Hall. The unveiling ceremony was performed by Mrs. G. Woollacott, the Ranger Adviser of Victoria, and the Blessing performed by Rev. JE Smith.
Miss M. Owens was the skipper of the crew, and Miss L. Beard the First Mate.
At the Annual Meeting of the Essendon District Local Association of Girl Guides held in the Toc H Hall. the District Commissioner. Miss J. McNab, announced that there were presently 260 Brownies, Guides and Rangers in the District.


From the early memories of Guiding at 1st Ascot Vale Company, Margaret Barbour has many memories of happy times spent in learning how to do – and learning what to do – and passing her tests for the `2nd Class Badge’.

In 1941 & 1942,– the Guiding groups were:

  • 1st Essendon with Janet McLean – meeting at Christ Church North Essendon.
  • 3rd Essendon with Beryl Barnett – meeting at a church hall in Albion Street near the Moonee Ponds Creek.
  • 1st Ascot Vale with Joan McNab and Edna Beaumont, meeting in the Sunday School Hall in Maribyrnong Road.
  • 2nd Ascot Vale with Mabel George, meeting at Knox Church Hall in Epsom Road, Ascot Vale;
  • 1st Aberfeldie with Nancy McPherson & Phyl May, meeting in small hall in Washington Street, Essendon, & playing our games out on the street – no cars around then.
  • 2nd Aberfeldie, meeting in Church Hall in Waverley Street, Moonee Ponds.
  • 1st Moonee Ponds, with Anne Hall, meeting at St. Thomas Church Hall in Moonee Ponds.
  • Brownie Packs at 1st Moonee Ponds – and at 2nd Essendon Ranger Group with Marj Beaumont, meeting in Ascot Vale Sunday School Hall – where `Corandirk’ Hostel is now.
Somewhere in between all this time, there were outstanding times – such as:
  • Mrs. T. Alston (Sally Alston’s mother) was District Commissioner for Essendon District –and she presented the Cup to the winning Company of Guides – at the Annual Sports – at Moonee Valley Racecourse.
  • We practised a lot for the Annual Sports Day. – Team games of overhead ball – tunnel ball -marching – or running races. but there was lots of fun too.
  • There was a Gymkhana Day out at Keilor or Westmeadows – run to raise money for something special – A wonderful day – well organized and lots of people attended.
  • There were special campfire nights held at Miss Graves’ home in Nimmo Street Essendon – in those days, that area was over the paddocks and miles from anywhere. I guess we travelled by bus from Essendon Station and then walked the extra distance.
  • Being war time, there was first aid drill – and fire escape drill near Puckle Street.

Memories of hikes – going by train to Greensborough and Eltham. – cooking our lunch out – visiting the little church at St Helena – running the last ½ mile in case we missed the train to be home by the said time.

Planning to have a Guide & Scout Social Evening – planning the games – inviting the scouts and leaders to come – then all being shy of mixing in for the games – but still we all enjoyed supper and the games there.

Then at 17, time to leave Guides and step on to Rangers.

Met Annette Carter at Rangers – and then many years later, we met again when Annette became Brown Owl at 3rd Strathmore Brownie Pack.

Planning a weekend away to Warburton.

Making our own scarf and knitting our own navy jumpers to wear.

Being war time, and soldiers were on leave, Essendon Rangers were on duty for some Sunday afternoons into town to do Canteen service, by serving afternoon tea, somewhere in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.

North Metro Region was divided into Divisions – being Broadmeadows North, Broadmeadows South, Pascoe Vale, Keilor, Coburg, Essendon, Mickleham.

Strathmore was in Broadmeadows South Division.

1st Essendon Guides met at Christ Church Hall in North Essendon, and lots of the guides lived in Strathmore - this was their nearest contact for them to be able to join Guides.

As the numbers of girls from Strathmore grew, it was decided to branch out and form a Guide Company in Strathmore area to be called 1st Strathmore Guides.

1st Strathmore Guides and Brownies were attached to Essendon District Guides. They met at the Presbyterian Church Hall – and at a Hillsyde Parade home and then finally into 1st Strathmore Scout Hall.

Local Association meeting was held and mothers were willing for the Guides to go ahead.

Around about 1952 – Leaders were appointed – Wilma Peach and Ruth Ash - the company started. in Strathmore. Wilma & Ruth were from 1st Aberfeldie Guide Company.

Then when Ruth shifted out to Keilor to live and found that it was too far to come into Guides at night, we were a leader short -- later- then Margaret Wilson came along to assist.

I can’t remember how or when we started – possibly in about 1954 – but Wilma was again sole Leader, and they were meeting in Hillsyde Parade home by then, Margaret offered to assist there, so that there were two Leaders there each night. We did this arrangement for about 3 months until they were able to meet in 1st Strathmore Scout Hall.

At that time, I was Leader at 1st Aberfeldie Guide Company and this meant that I was having 2 nights at Guides per week – but two Leaders are needed at meetings, and being locally I could walk there and back (that was before my driving days).

Group went well for about 5 years – then there was a lapse of Leaders, starting up again in September 1960 - with Joyce Hinneberg and Bertha Newman as Leaders.

I was Leader at 1st Aberfeldie Guides – from 1947 to 1956 - and then I resigned owing to family commitments, and I started getting involved in activities for the family and the community.

I joined the Local Association for Strathmore and assisted as needed.

 Dot Angus was appointed as District Commission for Strathmore District – 17 August 1959, until 31 July 1963.

2nd Strathmore Guides commenced in February 1961 – with Margaret Barbour as Captain – and 2 assistants.

Further Details on:

Editor's Note - 2019: There are currently no Strathmore Guide Units operating. 1st Aberfeldie Brownie Guide Unit (for girls 7 to 11) and the Moonee Valley Wildflowers (for girls 10 - 15) still meet in Essendon North - Cliff Allison Reserve pavilion. (2nd Strathmore Scouts meets at a hall in Kernan Street and includes girl scouts. See Facebook page.)


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