Royal Reels: Gambling


Two covers addressed to the Australia Felix Lodge were found, both very early in their founding. The first was a December 1840 entire addressed to the Worshipfulful Master of the Lodge of Australia Felix, Melbourne with a ms. Per Clonwell with a GPO backstamp and it was rated ‘4′ and it had an oval postmark MELBOURNE/ [crown]/ JA 14/ 1841/ NEW S. WALES. This was one of 3 recorded covers from the wreck of the Clonwell which ran aground at Ninety Mile Beach (Gippsland) on 3/1/1841 (Figure 1).

The second was a stampless entire addressed to the Master of the Lodge of Australia Felix of Freemasons, Melbourne, Port Philipe (sic), Grand Lodge with a red oval PAID SHIP LETTER/ JY 1/ 1847/ LONDON, with a black TOO LATE/ G.P.O. and a red circular PAID/ ( )/ 1847 handstamps, as well as ms. ‘1/4′ and ‘9′ (Figure 2).

Australia Felix was the term used by the surveyor-explorer Major Thomas Mitchell to describe the lush pastureland of Victoria he saw in his journey of discovery in 1836. (‘Felix’ is a Latin word meaning happy or, in this context, blessed). A portion of the southeastern part of Victoria map made by Ham in 1847 is described as ‘A Map of AUSTRALIA FELIX’ (Figure 3).

The beginnings of Freemasonry in Australia are perhaps as clouded in mystery as its world wide beginnings. It is believed that the first Freemason to set foot on Australian soil arrived in Australia in with the HMS Endeavour, in the person of Joseph Banks. Some of the important events of Freemasonry in Australia are represented on this timeline:

1800 – Lodge of St. John meets on Norfolk Island;

1802 – First Masonic document issued in Australia;

1803 – Governor in Sydney bans Masonic meetings without his pemission;

1828 – Formation of Tasmanian Lodge 313 in Hobart;

1834 – consecration of South Australian Lodge 613;

1839 – First meeting of Lodge of Australia Felix No. 1 (Figure 4);*

The cover of the BYE-LAWS of the LOYAL AUSTRALIA FELIX LODGE No. 3688, Branch Society of the MANCHESTER UNITY, Independent Order of the Oddfellows of Victoria, Melbourne 1867 is seen in Figure 5.

*  Figure 4 is taken from the homesite of the Lodge of Australia Felix No. 1, in 2009.

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