2. The Foundation Years Of District 70, 1971 - 1976

Under the guiding hand of the first District Governor, Tom Stubbs, District 70 established 3 Divisions covering Northern NSW, Southern NSW and the Southern States. Each Division had 4 Areas with NSW covered by Areas 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 208, 209 and 210. The Clubs in Area 206 (Northern NSW) were transferred to District 69 while the Clubs in Area 207 were transferred to other Areas in District 70. Area 210 was established to cover Clubs on the North Shore.

Distance was still a problem in District administration, particularly in the years 1973 - 1975 when District Governors were elected from Launceston, Newcastle and Melbourne respectively. And some Conferences were still hard to get to for the average Toastmaster in NSW, particularly those held in Warburton, Victoria in 1973 and in Mount Gambier, South Australia in 1975.

Available funds were limited and tended to get swallowed up in travel so that District 70 was not able to give the same assistance to clubs as that which is available today.

As the District Executive could not meet regularly in the early 70's, the host Club undertook all arrangements for the Annual Conference. An example of this was the organisation of the first District 70 Conference held at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba in May 1972. This Conference was organised entirely by host Club Parramatta and set many of the precedents adopted in the following Conferences. One innovation introduced at the Katoomba Conference was the District Humorous Speech Contest. In those days the speech length was 3 minutes and Clubs entered their contestants directly into the Conference Humorous Speech Contest, which was held on the Friday evening, often before a small audience.

Because Parramatta were the current Club Champions as well as Conference hosts, Parramatta was chosen to be the 2nd Australian town featured on the front cover of The Toastmaster magazine as "Town of the Month", being the November 1972 issue.

Before 1973, Toastmasters was all male so the Katoomba Conference had special ladies activities for members' wives. Elizabeth Wilson, later to become our first female District Governor in 1987, was Chairman of the Ladies Committee at that Conference.

However some ladies were determined to find their way into Toastmasters ranks so some members names appeared as B. Smith on the records before Toastmasters International allowed women to become members. Clubs still had to amend their By-Laws to permit women members to join after 1973, While many Clubs changed in the next 10 years and all new Clubs formed after 1975 were mixed, it took 20 years before all the male only Clubs finally made the change to admit women.

In the period 1971 - 1976 Club growth in NSW was steady but not spectacular. All of the new Club growth was in Sydney except for Woden Valley, which chartered in 1973 and was the first of many Clubs that now exist in Canberra. Henry Parkes was a country Club formed in 1974 but it folded ten years later.

In the Southern States Club growth was also continuing steadily with 15 new charters granted in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia between 1971 and 1976.

This growth added to the geographical problems of a District that extended from Sydney to Perth. So moves were initiated in the mid 1970's to establish the Southern States Division as a separate District. At the same time, representations were made to the Board of Directors to permit a representative of the Australasian Districts to enter the International Speech Contest. The proposal was that the Districts would organise an Inter-District Speech Contest to select a single representative and meet all costs.

The Board of Directors responded favourably to these proposals. They agreed to send International President George C. Scott and his wife Elaine to attend the inaugural Down Under Convention and Inter-District Speech Contest held at The Wentworth Hotel, Sydney in May 1976 so that he could help in the creation of the new Districts.

The Southern States Division became Provisional District 73, being established on July 1, 1976 with 22 Clubs. The reformed District 70 was confined to NSW and the ACT and contained 41 Clubs. A Western Division was added to the Northern and Southern Divisions at that time.