Riverbanks of Sutherland is the History of AA in Australia

Posted by admin on December 21, 2011

The history of AA in Australia started on the Riverbanks of Sutherland. AA members wanting to get sober began the same way as the Oxford Group of Western Canada. They were also lucky to have had Dr Sylvester Minogue helping them.

The men wanting to stay sober agreed to meet as they had heard how the first 100 men were doing it in Western Canada. They met on the riverbanks of Sutherland on a regular basis.

They sat on banana cases and it was a time before literature had surfaced in the meetings. They were meeting and they just talk to each other as men. They talked about how their week went and about their life in general and how they were going.

The amazing thing was that they were staying sober simply by the power of association.  In the same way The Oxford Group were doing it and in the way they were also staying sober.

The first woman in AA in Australia came along and her name was Betty. She saw that the men who were meeting on the Sutherland riverbank were staying sober and she wanted to get sober as well. She asked if she could also join them when they met and they flatly refused her. The reason given was that they did not believe a woman could be an alcoholic.

She went along anyway and they allowed her to sit up away from them but she was still close enough to be able to still hear what they were saying. Due to this she also stayed sober. She is known as the first woman to get sober in AA in Australia.

They were all going along nicely until something happened to change things. It is known at this time that Arch McKinnon (who was not an alcoholic) decided to bring literature out to the Australian AA from other groups in America. When it arrived the men were reading the new literature and attempted to introduce it into their meeting by reading it during the meeting time.

By doing this however they begin to lose their focus on the primary purpose and priorities changed. They had forgotten the reason they were meeting which was to be staying sober. Instead of their usual talking to each other they were now praying and trying to find God in the meetings as was instructed to do in the literature.

They were now praying for sobriety and they began to bust (start drinking again). One by one they were getting drunk. They had forgot their primary purpose for the meeting. That was to be staying sober and not to be trying to find God.

The only stipulation that they had from the beginning was that for someone to be eligible to take the chair of the meeting, was that they had to not have had a drink that day. This was never a problem before the literature came out. They were staying sober. Once the literature was introduced and they were reading it they got to the stage where they no longer had anyone eligible to go in the chair of the meeting. In other words everyone had been drinking that day.

This is where the slogan “Keep It Simple and Don’t Analise” was born, that is used in AA meetings. It’s still a slogan used today although no one relates it to in its original origins anymore. That’s because alcoholics are not staying sober anymore.

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4 Comments to Riverbanks of Sutherland is the History of AA in Australia

  • I will say that the first AA meeting in Queensland Australia is claimed to be in Brisbane post World War 2 in Brisbane but it is highly suspected that the first AA meeting in Queensland Australia was actually during World War 2 in Defence Force premises in Townsville North Queensland

  • Wow!

    “Power of association” makes a lot more sense than a “power greater than ourselves”, mind you I was not making much sense when I first started coming to AA, I’m lucky to have survived the literature though, very lucky.

  • Thanks GK for your comments. You are lucky to survive AA – we don’t get sober by accident, it’s be knowing what we are doing. Staying away from spiritualism in AA is so important for ones survival

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