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In October 1982, the Illawarra Outdoor Social Club was officially formed. Of the 26 people at the original meeting at the Town Hall, 9 turned up for the first official meeting of the club at the Corrimal Leagues Club.

Later meetings were held in Jim Fulton's Garage at Mangerton. Helen Clothier often sang folk songs at these meetings. Later still the meetings were held in the IMB Arcade and then for several years they were held in the Piano Bar at the Master Builders Club. In about 2001 it was decided that the Piano Bar was becoming too small and noisy for the IOC and another move was made to the Wollongong City Tennis Club at Beaton Park. In 2007 we again moved to more suitable premises at the Wisemans Park Wollongong City Bowling Club where we were made very welcome by the management and members. Unfortunately the new proprietors of the Bistro were not so welcoming and so we were on the move again after approximately 12 months. After some frantic searching for suitable premises, The Fraternity Club at Fairy Meadow offered us a room to meet and have made us welcome. The bistro meets the culinary needs of most members and the meeting room is very comfortable and always set up for us in advance.


About six months after the formation of the club, the name was changed to The Illawarra Outdoor Club. The first President was Noel Manuel, and Dianne Smith-Cullen was the first Secretary. Ann McKendrick volunteered to be the first Treasurer and Liz Rees was the programmer for the first year.


There have always been lots of avid photographers in the club and the photo albums (both digital and film) attest to this. We have a collection of several thousand photographs of club activities of all kinds. Some of the photographers who have provided many photos over the years are Graham Burgess, Warren Evans, Ed Rees, Greg Carthew and Colin Wilton to mention just a few.


Helen Clothier was a very good walker with a scouting background from the Sydney area. Helen took care of the walks programme. One of the first walks, with 23 walkers, was to Heathcote National Park, while another walk in the first year was to Ben's Walk at Bomaderry. The first camp was held at Bundanoon. Bush fires have dramatically changed this area and it is now called Kangaroo Valley camping area. The second camping trip was held at Grady's Camping Ground on the Shoalhaven River, west of Nowra. This camp included the first Canoe trip, which was organised by Terry Chatham, and the first club "snake encounter" was had (although presumably not enjoyed). Another camping trip was organised by Merv at Little Pebbly Beach with some people camping and others staying in cabins. Bill Olsen started social tennis at the ER&S tennis courts.

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An outing at Ranelagh House Robertson

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Christmas at Noel & Sylvia's house

After about 12 months the club membership had declined and so an advert was placed in the Illawarra Mercury. 85 people turned up to the next meeting. A camping trip was organised to Greenwell Point, but this trip ended in disaster, with some members leaving the Outdoor Club and forming another club which they called the Town & Country Club. Today the membership fluctuates around 170 members.

From the early 1990's Ted Hutton regularly produced and printed our monthly programme. When Ted and his partner Cheryl moved to the south west of NSW other club members stepped up and took over the production and printing duties. The programme has undertaken several changes over the years and has been produced and/or printed by various people including Greg Carthew, Peter Cochrane and Colin Wilton and most recently Allan Shepherd just to mention a few.

In about 2001 it was decided to produce a monthly Newsletter, with members contributing articles, including write-ups of activities from the previous programme and photo's of members enjoying club activities. This newsletter was named following a "Naming Competition" and is called Out & About. The original concept for the newsletter was Peter Cochrane's and he produced and printed Out & About for several years until he and his new wife moved down the coast. Colin Wilton then took over the production and editing roles while the secretary prints Out & About and also edits and prints the Monthly Programme each month.

The original concept of 1 person creating the program for a whole year changed after a while and one of the great strengths of the club is that we now have different programmers each month.  This leads to a diverse programme where there is usually something on for everyone each month.

Our programme has varied activities with at least one activity each Saturday night and a day activity on Sundays, with added activities for Public holidays. Programmers also add in other activities on some week days for those who are able to make it. We also have a Restaurant night on the 2ndWednesday night of the month, and old favourites like Bowls on the indoor links at Warilla Bowling Club, Card nights, house parties and of course the monthly meetings on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at The Fraternity Club Fairy Meadow.

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