History of Guiding in NSW
How the Guide Movement began in NSW
Guiding in Australia had begun as long ago as 1910, back in the ankle-skirt days. It was slow to start in NSW, although some unofficial 'Lone Patrols' had sprung up, as they had done in many other parts of the world, simply by girls reading Scouting for Boys. They had been thrilled at all the exciting activities the book offered, and so with a copy in hand, and four or five friends, would attempt to carry out the challenges offered. They wore a uniform of sorts - navy blue skirts, boys' open necked khaki shirts, black shoes and stockings, and of course they carried broomsticks! Thus armed they would march down through the streets to some pre-arranged place in the bush and proceed with the fun to try all the adventures in THE BOOK, imbued with the spirit of it all. All this at a time when girls were supposed to be at home carrying out lady-like pursuits!
In 1920 Dame Margaret Davidson, wife of the Governor of NSW, called a special meeting of prominent women in Sydney, to try to interest them in starting the Guide Movement in this State. It was decided that Guides was not for them. However, one young woman, reading the report in the paper, thought differently. As a young girl she had been one of the brave little group of Girl Scouts who joined 11,000 boy scouts of Great Britain in September 1909 at the first rally at the Crystal Palace in London.
The young woman who took up Dame Margaret's challenge was Miss Nella Levy. 'The Lev', as she was affectionately known, got off to a good start. She had a firm belief in the principles of Guiding, was young, keen, a dynamic personality, had a great sense of humour and fun, and was also a disciplinarian. New South Wales was indeed fortunate to have her to establish Guiding in this State.
A small room was found in the city and this was the first Headquarters and shop. There was only one paid member of staff, and a voluntary helper came in from time to time.
In September 1921, 23 young women made their Promise at Government House and Dame Margaret (Lady Davidson) was appointed first State Commissioner.
Brownies, initially called Rosebuds, were introduced in Australia in the early 1920s. Ranger Guides – Guides over 16 – were introduced in the mid-1920s in most States. A State Rally for New South Wales Guiding was held at the Sydney Showground in December 1922. A press article tells of the ‘bright eager faces of girl guides … that new “thing” for girls’.
Two years later, the inaugural meeting of the General Council, the State’s Guiding Board, was held.