About Us

The Society's Background

The Orchid Society of New South Wales was founded on 7th August, 1934 making it one of the oldest in the country. The first general meeting was held at the home of T H James with the first president His Honor Judge H F Markell presiding. In 2014 the Society celebrated 80 years since its foundation.

Early in 1931, N S F Macdonald, of Summer Hill, and J. Bisset, of Abbotsford, came together and as a result of their association it can be said the Society owes its origin. Both at the time were growers in a very small way. Later, C. Cambourn , of Five Dock, became aquainted with Macdonald and Bisset, and occasional discussions pertaining to the culture of Orchids among these enthusiasts, soon developed into regular weekly meetings at Macdonalds Surgery.

The next to join these gatherings were H. Trinter and L.F.Hawley, both of Summer Hill. The meetings were held every Tuesday evening, and at the conclusion, Macdonald’s collection was inspected and any progress or deterioration duly noted. Visits to one another’s collection became recognised practice, and the friendly criticism thus engendered did much to increase the knowledge and sustain the interest of this small band of enthusiasts. Later, T.H. James – the present Honorary Secretary – and G. Hermond Slade became interested in these meetings, and it soon became evident that the time was fast approaching for the formation of an Orchid Society.

Actually, the subject was discussed at a number of meetings, but nothing tangible was done until July 3, 1934. On this day, Mr. Bisset invited a number of growers to his home in Abbotsford. Obviously, those present were keenly interested in the culture of Orchids, and, after Orchid topics had been freely discussed, Dr. Burstal proposed that the time was opportune for consideration to be given to the formation of an Orchid Society, and it was his insistence upon something more definite than an occasional friendly meeting that actuated those present to heartily support the Doctor in his suggestion that a Society should be formed in New South Wales. A provisional committee was thereupon formed, and notices of a proposed meeting were duly despatched to all known to be Orchid growers to those present, to attend a general meeting at T. H. James’ home in Longueville. The meeting was held on July 16, 1934, and the question of the formation of the Society was formally discussed. At this meeting a provisional committee was ppointed to draw up rules and regulations, and for this purpose the committee met at Dr. Burstal’s home the following day. 

The first general meeting was held at T. H. James’ home on August 7, 1934, when the Orchid Society of New South Wales officially came into being. The following were elected to become the first officers of the Society. 
President, His Honour Judge H. F. Markwell. 
Vice President, Dr. C. A. Jaede
Vice President, Rev. H. M. R. Rupp. 
Honorary Secretary, T. H. James.
Honorary Treasurer, L. F. Hawley 
Committee Dr. A. C. Burstal and S. C. James

For some months the meetings of the Society were held at the home of T. H. James, but as the membership increased additional accommodation became necessary, and His Honour Judge Markwell kindly made a room available in the city. However, the membership still increased, and further accommodation had to be found. A portion of the Sydney School of Arts building was then used for a few meetings, until the Society transferred to its present well appointed home in Phillip House, Phillip Street, Sydney.

The first annual meeting of the Society was held on August 29, 1935, and replaced the usual monthly meeting. The function was held at the State Shopping Block, and was of a semi-social nature. The attendance was large and enthusiastic, the accommodation being taxed to its fullest. At the meeting it was proposed to publish a Journal, and this has now become an accomplished fact. The first annual report of the Society was read and considered. Subsequently the President suitably address the members, covering the whole of the activities of the society, and also dealing with the culture of Orchids generally.

Vice-President, the Rev. H. M. R. Rupp, and Mr. E. A. Hamilton also made an address to the report. The room was beautifully decorated with Orchids. The tables were arranged U shape, and the plants displayed along the centre. Several specimen plants of Cymbidium and of Dendrobium nobile were exceptionally grown and carried upwards of one hundred blooms on each plant. The President, Judge Markwell, Mrs. E. M. Mitchell, C. Gosper, J. Bissett, H. Taylor, and numerous others brought along exhibits, which included
Den. Nobile, Den. Xanthrocentrum, Den. Thwaitesii, and Den. Findleyanum, various Cymbidium species and hybrids, Cypripediums, Cattleyas, Brasso Cattleyas, Laelio-Cattleyas, Vandas and many other orchids,

After the annual report had been presented and adopted by the meeting, the election of a committee for the ensuing year was proceeded with. As the whole of the standing committee had been re-nominated, with the exception of Dr. Burstal (the demands of his practice necessitated his standing down) and as there were no further nominations, the old committee was duly re-elected, with the addition of E.A. Hamilton, C. Gosper, G. Hermon Slade and R.M. Stewart.

Since its first meeting, the Society has flourished beyond all expectations, and its official display at the Royal Horticultural Society’s October in the Sydney Town Hall was greatly admired and received much publicity. The Society, after only a little over a year in existence, has a substantial credit balance in the bank, and has received official recognition by numerous similar bodies throughout the world. The Orchid Society of New South Wales has thus been the means of making a closer alliance and co-operation between those growers and lovers of Orchids who attend its meetings and who are on the correspondence list, and has fully justified the endevours of the pioneers of the Society, who can justly claim to have builded well.

Presently, OSNSW has over 63 societies or clubs affiliated with it within New South Wales. OSNSW operates monthly meetings, and also its other responsibilities and administrative duties such as the judging system within the state. The Registrar of Judges, a member of the Board of Management, is responsible for the running and judging of Affiliated Societies shows and meetings. OSNSW provides a forum for discussion and cooperation amongst its Affiliated Societies. The OSNSW Constitution is available to be read.

OSNSW is the state representational body within the national body, the Australian Orchid Council, and provides a delegate for this Council.

Present & Past Presidents
2022 –Irene Chalmers
2019 – 2022Graham Larkham
2016 – 2019Irene Chalmers
2013 – 2016Chris Dalrymple
2010 – 2013Irene Bodell
2007 – 2010Geoff Fulcher
2006 – 2007Graham Larkham
2002 – 2006Chris Dalrymple
1997 – 2002Kathy Koutsoukis
1995 – 1997Ron Miller
1992 – 1995Margaret Bowers
1991 – 1992Alan Alvis
1990 – 1991Garrie Bromley
1987 – 1990Graeme Banks OAM
1984 – 1987Doug Symons
1981 – 1984Wal Upton
1978 – 1981Sid Waldie
1975 – 1978Lou Sasso
1972 – 1975Barry Collins
1969 – 1972Bert Schwartz
1966 – 1969Frank Slattery
1963 – 1966Lou Sasso
1960 – 1963Frank Slattery
1967 – 1960Sir J Hall Best
1954 – 1957AB Porter
1951 – 1954Jack Bissett
1947 – 1948AR Begg
1947J Vote
1946 – 1947A Rothwell
1943 – 1945EA Hamilton
1934 – 1943HF Markell
  • President: Irene Chalmers
  • Immediate Past President: Vacant
  • Secretary: Veronica Clowes
  • Treasurer: Chinchee Wong
  • Registrar: Ian Chalmers
  • Editor Orchid News & Web: Toni Benton
  • Committee: Ken Siew; Garrie Bromley; Chris Dalrymple; Peter D’Olier; Jane D’Olier; Christine Rethers
  • Contact Us
Growing Orchids

The charter of OSNSW is the cultivation and promotion of orchids and all things orchid. The orchid flower has evoked great passion over centuries and continues to fascinate and astound in its variety and complexity. Having said that, these highly evolved plants are amongst the most hardy and easiest to grow when selected for your conditions. Joining an orchid society is the easiest way to learn how to grow these most rewarding flowers. For advice in growing particular genera you might like to visit our Growing Tips page.

Monthly Meetings

OSNSW has a monthly meeting and orchid show at the The Ermington Community Centre, River Rd Ermington, (behind hotel, and adjacent to police station) from 8pm on the last Monday of each month. At this meeting a large variety of orchids are displayed and there is a presentation on some aspect of orchids or orchid growing. Everyone is welcome.

Orchid News

The Orchid Society of New South Wales produces a monthly newsletter, Orchid News, which provides information to members. 


Join the Orchid Society of New South Wales using the Membership Application Form.


All correspondence should go through the Secretary, Veronica Clowes:

  The Orchid Society of NSW
  PO Box 5396
  Chullora NSW 2190

ABN 57 057 389 687

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