Lodge Australia Felix’s Historic Trowel

Lodge Australia Felix No. 1 is the oldest Lodge in Victoria and was consecrated in Melbourne on 23rd December 1839, and the first Lodge meeting was held on Monday 6th January 1840.

Foundation Master WBro George Brunswick Smythe, a member of St Mary’s of London Lodge, rode on horseback from Sydney to Melbourne to deliver the warrant that would allow the Lodge of Australia Felix to meet. However he resigned after the conclusion of the consecration ceremony. He felt that as he was the Police Magistrate there could be a conflict of interest. Brunswick Street in Fitzroy Victoria is named after him.

The Fourth Master was John Thomas Smith, who opened the first theatre in Melbourne, the Queens Theatre Royale, and served seven terms as Mayor. Smith Street (where Lodge Devotion will hold our 2016 Installation) is named after him.

In the early development of Melbourne, Freemasons played an important part in many civic ceremonies, more particularly in the laying of foundation stones of public buildings and bridges. On the 25th July 1842 the brethren of Australia Felix led the first non military parade through the streets of Melbourne to lay the foundation of the new courthouse on the corner of Russell & Latrobe streets. The Lodge Trowel was used.

Australia Felix currently meets monthly on the 2nd Thursday (except Jan) at the Box Hill Masonic Centre. Installation is in February..

The below blue text is from the Lodge Newsletter

Our Lodge Trowel

Australia Felix News

Monthly Newsletter for our Members & Ladies

Edition No 2016-01 (March 2016)

Editor Jim Puohotaua

Lodge Australia Felix’s trowel was originally presented to the Lodge by Brother Isaac Hinds the 2nd Master of the Lodge on Saint John’s Day 27th Dec 1840.

The Trowel was used to lay the foundation stones of the following structures:

Melbourne Court House 25th July 1842

At the corner of King and Bourke streets stood a rude brick-walled, shingle-roofed building, was home for the Crown Lands department. When it became known that a branch of the Supreme Court was to be established in the district of Port Phillip it was decided that this structure should be fitted for the purpose, and here Mr. John Willis, the first resident judge, administered justice in the early days of Melbourne. This building was eventually replaced with one near the new gaol at the corner of Russell and Latrobe Streets

Princes Bridge 20th March 1846 (see below, Ed.)

Melbourne Hospital 20th March 1846

Peace Memorial Block Freemasons Homes of Victoria 313 Punt Road Prahran 19 Feb 1950

The Commemoration Stone Freemasons Hospital by MWGM General Sir Dallas Brooks Governor of Victoria 21st October 1956

Grand Lodge Memorial Temple 300 Albert Street East Melbourne 18th March 1967

Centennial House Raleigh Street Windsor 31st March 1967

Mystery about the Trowel - Can you help be solve this?

A Victorian Government web site has 20 March 1846 as the date the “The foundation stone of Melbourne's Princes Bridge is laid.” That agrees with the above article "Our Lodge Trowel" (or if you're on a bigger screen - the one to the right), yet look at the current foundation stone of the Princes Bridge which reflects many other sources giving an 1886 date.

Perhaps an explanation is in the below;

... at the southern end of Swanston Street... Started in 1846 and completed in 1851, it was opened on 15th November that year. It was known as Lennox's Bridge. The gold rush in 1851 and subsequent booms in the 1880s saw the Lennox Bridge straining to cope with the increasing traffic. The width and course of the Yarra River had been changed and the bridge was hampering shipping and water flow, so a new broader bridge was designed by John Grainger and constructed between 1886 and 1888. This bridge was named Prince's Bridge in honour of Edward, Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII. In 1924 it underwent modifications to accommodate the new electric trams and its name was changed to Princes Bridge. This is the beautiful, majestic bridge that crosses the Yarra today.

Could it be Australia Felix’s Trowel laid the stone for the Lennox’s Bridge and not the “Princess Bridge” which stands today on the same site?

Let’s hear from some readers !

From one of our readers who is a member of Australia Felix

Hi Damien,

You are correct. The bridge was known as the Lennox Bridge and it was the predecessor to the Princes Bridge.