The evening of Monday 9th April 1973 was a memorable occasion for the fledgling 1st Rowville Guide Company. It was the enrolment night when the first group of girls who had “graduated” from the 1972 Brownie Pack officially became guides.

Under the leadership of 19 year old Margaret Taylor (the great-granddaughter of Rowville’s “Granny” Taylor after whom Taylors Lane was named) the girls had been meeting every Monday night at the Rowville Kindergarten in Wellington Road since early February. They had learnt the Guide Law, Promise and all about the Australian Flag and had passed the necessary tests to allow for their entry into the world-wide Guide Movement.

On that evening nine girls became Guides. They were: Carol Armstrong, Tracey Brien, Michelle Macrae, Linda Moss, Melanie Ostell, Julie Popko, Megan Power, Nicola Snoxall and Kate Tresise. In large measure they had Kate Tresise and her mother Sally to thank for the introduction of Guiding in Rowville. Kate’s father Max had started the Rowville Cub Pack in early 1970 when son Paul was eight years old and when daughter Kate turned eight the following year he coerced Sally into becoming Rowville’s first Brown Owl. Sally’s assistant was Sue Johnson. Two years later Sally in turn persuaded Margaret Taylor to become the foundation leader of the Guides.

Margaret had lived all of her life in Rowville but, as with most of the other Rowville children, had gone to school at Scoresby Primary School. Her family were members of the Scoresby Uniting Church and Margaret joined the Scoresby Brownie Pack in 1961 and went on to Scoresby Guides until she was 15. She commenced training to become a leader with the encouragement of the Knox Division Commissioner Mrs Shirley Hawley who also saw the need for a Guide Company in Rowville. The first patrols of the 1st Rowville Company were Magpie and Kookaburra and then later, as the Company grew in numbers, Kingfisher and Blue Wren.

The next girl to join was Emily Dunscombe in March 1974 and two months later the three Lade sisters: Pamela, Jennifer and Susan arrived from Yarram. Jennifer was well advanced towards attaining her Queen’s Guide at the time and actually returned to Yarram to complete it and Pamela had to qualify for her Queen’s Guide in 1975 through the Bayswater Company as Margaret had not completed her leader training at that stage. The first girl to reach that pinnacle entirely within the Rowville group was Pamela Lade. The 1st Rowville Honour Board for Queen’s Guide achievement reads: Pamela Lade, May 1975; Emily Dunscombe, September 1977. Councillor Bernie Seebeck made the presentations to the two girls.

Because Margaret did not have her warrant the girls could only participate in day camps. They had to turn up at Margaret’s parents’ farm in Wellington Road at 7.00am on the Saturday morning and then spend the day in camping activities until 9.00pm when they returned home. They returned at 7.00am Sunday for the day to complete the weekend’s camp.

A very pleasant tradition commenced in the early years were the mother/daughter and father/daughter nights, remembered with great affection by both parents and girls. Marjorie Lade (mother of the three sisters) became the first Rowville District Commissioner and organised a parents’ group. Marjorie continued in this role until 1981 although for some time she combined both the District Commissioner and Guide Leader positions.

In 1982, Jennifer Lade together with Susan Theobald commenced Guide Leader training followed shortly afterwards by Christine Mitchell. These three new Leaders renewed their Promise at a ceremony at the kindergarten on 22nd February 1983. All had been involved in the Guide Movement previously, Susan and Christine in England prior to their arrival in Australia.

The one complaint from all the Guides at that time was that they had never been camping. Christine in particular had very fond and wonderful memories of her camping days in England and resolved to make camping qualification her first priority.

With this in mind the first step was a sleep-over at the kindergarten. Such excitement – these girls had never been on a guide camp. The only dampener on the night was the arrival of the Rowville Scouts, packed and ready to depart for a weekend camping! The scouts were regular campers and it made the girls even more downhearted. That was soon forgotten, however, and a good night was had by all.

Regular camps have been held since that time, with March Labour Weekend being a favourite. During that time camping has become considerably easier, no longer the hours needed to pitch the ridge tents which only slept 2-3 girls. The Association now has large tents on frames, quickly and easily erected by the girls. Although the skill level has dropped, the enjoyment level has increased and there is still plenty to do in camp like cooking, making bedding rolls, brailing tents to air them and, of course, lots of fun and learning activities.

The move to the Scout Hall seemed to blow winds of change through the Company. The meeting night was changed from Monday to Tuesday to fit in with Scout meetings. Changes were made to patrol names, many of which had remained from the commencement of the Company. Kookaburra Patrol had ceased some time back but Blue Wren, Magpie and Kingfisher were still around. Rosella was added around 1988 after long discussions by the girls involved. All patrols chose new names once at the Scout Hall and Pelican, Wombat, Wattle and Koala were chosen. Following the start of a fifth Patrol in 1993, Swallow was added.

The Parents Support Group, known previously as the Local Association, had little support in the early days but in 1981 Vauna Jaensch became President, a position she held until 1985 when Trevor Barton took over. Following the Bartons’ departure from Rowville, Trevor was replaced by Rhonda Yates until 1989 when she became District Leader and Hazel Haynes, the current President, commenced in the position.

This is an abridged version of a history of the Company prepared by Christine Mitchell to mark the 21st Anniversary of its formation.

The 21st Birthday celebrations were held at the Scout Hall in Turramurra Drive on Tuesday 3rd May 1994.

First published in the May 1994 edition of the Rowville-Lysterfield Community News.