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A brief history

Soon after the formation of the first Beefsteak & Burgundy Club, now the Adelaide Club, in 1954, interest grew so rapidly that it was agreed that club membership should be capped at 30, and that new clubs should be formed on a regional basis. Two of the original members (now life members of this club) Mick Auld and Joe Stevens, were instrumental in bringing together a group of friends who met at the Richmond Hotel on 14 February 1956 and resolved to form a new club, the Burnside Club, with the northern boundary being the Parade, the western boundary Portrush Road, and the eastern and southern boundaries being the foothills. It was the third club to be formed.

It was a male-only luncheon club, initially attracting (largely) people associated with the wine industry, and meals generally consisted of a steak and salad accompanied by a glass or two of red wine. Records of the early years, and particularly of the 60s, are scarce, and sadly these members have passed away, but it is possible to piece together a sketchy scenario of this period.

After an early base at the Imperial Hotel, and later the RSL Club in Angas St, lunches were enjoyed at the Feathers Hotel, which opened in the late 60s. Evening functions, to which partners were invited, became popular, and were generally held at Xmas and in July, often at prestigious venues. The roles of Foodmaster and Winemaster were crucial, with the foodmaster arranging venues and menus, and the wine master providing wines to match.

We have more comprehensive records of the 70's, which reveal a club clinging to its all-male membership and luncheon format, but widening its focus. Picnics at wineries and members' homes were held, and a wider range of venues attended - in the late 70's venues included the Drumminor, Lotus, Maximillians, Granada Lodge and Ayers House restaurants. A wine cellar was created, albeit limited by current standards, and regular winery visits and club bottlings were held. However, a members' poll held in 1979 showed a strong preference to retain all-male membership rules, and a core of luncheon meetings held at a fixed venue.

In the early 80's major changes occurred. The role of the foodmaster was gradually abandoned, and responsibility for arranging dinners was handed over to members, resulting in a much more diverse range of food and venues. Dinner organisers also chose their own wines, with the responsibilities of the Winemaster changing to the management of the rapidly growing club cellar. In 1985 a new committee made the first of a number of major changes - members' partners were invited to attend all functions except the AGM, and they would become predominantly evening functions (this move was not without controversy, and several resignations occurred, but generally the changes were well received, and club membership has been at or near the maximum ever since). In 1988 membership was opened to women, and the Club became a mixed club, with the first female member joining in September.

A levy was introduced to assist in the growth of the cellar, and an annual trip away to a wine region on a May weekend became a regular event. Features such as the "Winetaster of the Year" , the Nichol Trophy, awarded to the winner of a wine tasting held at the AGM, and the "Taster of the Month", awarded to the winner of a wine quiz held at the monthly dinner became established and popular features.

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The Club today

This format still prevails. The Club has a Committee which meets monthly, consisting of a President, Immediate Past President, Secretary, Treasurer, Cellarmaster and five ordinary members, elected annually at the AGM. There are currently five active life members (awarded for long and distinguished service). In recent years the tendency has been for a new president to be elected annually, although there is no rule to this effect. Three presidents in recent years have been women, and currently, six members are women.

The current program is generally as follows: January, luncheon at a winery; February, dinner at a restaurant; March, Sunday luncheon hosted by the President, including taster of the year competition; April, restaurant dinner; May, annual trip to a wine district; June , restaurant dinner; July, black tie gourmet dinner; August, restaurant dinner, and AGM held on a Saturday, including Nicholls trophy tasting; September, October and November, restaurant dinners; December, black tie Christmas function.

Members are encouraged to bring guests to all functions except to the AGM - they may be asked to pay a slightly higher fee at some functions. Currently dinner costs for members are around $65 for ordinary dinners and $80 for black tie functions. Membership fees are $140 (including cellar levy), and should membership be full, associateship is offered on the same terms, but without voting rights at the AGM.

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