Biographical entry Monash, John ( - 1931)
Sir John Monash joined the Wallaby Club in 1913 and maintained his membership until his death in 1931. He was elected President in 1920. He was a notable engineer; a General in World War I; and Chairman of the State Electrictiy Commission of Victoria. He was at various times Vice Chancellor and Acting Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, and was co-founder of the University of Melbourne Union. He was father-in-law of Dr Gershon Bennett and cousin of Dr F.H. Meyer. Monash University was named after him.
'Our most important recruit during Clendinnen's year of office [1912-1913] was John Monash, afterwards Sir John Monash. He was elected a member on march 14, 1913, and had hardly become acquainted with his fellow-members when the first World War began. His career for the next five years belongs to world history. On his return to Australia after demobilizing the Australian Army, the Club unanimously elected him to the Committee, which chose him as President for the year 1920-1, although he had not previously been Vice-President. '
'Shortly after his return, in the course of conversation with a member he said, "I think I owe most of my success in the war to the fact that I am an engineer". "You will pardon me, I hope" said his friend, "but, in my opinion, your statement does not fit with the facts. At least a hundred competent engineers served as soldiers, but very few gained any special distinction. You rose to the top because you alone had the rare qualities of mind, force of character and organizing ability peculiar to John Monash". Do you know," replied Sir John, "that is the first time in five years that I have been contradicted?" "Is that so?" said the member, "what a lot of arrears must be made up".'
'His long service in our Militia and the army and his position as Chairman of the Electricity Commission united to develop in him some traits of the autocrat. A member of the Club relates a story illustrative of this. When members of the Club, complete with wives, visited the Buffalo Mountains at Cup-time, Sir John Monash assumed command of walks and excursions, and fixed 9.30 a.m. as the time for hopping off to scale the rugged front. Precisely to the minute, he took his stand at the starting-post, watch in hand. As each latecomer arrived, he sternly told him the time and reminded him that he was late; when the ladies, most of whom look upon punctuality as one of man's amusing foibles, strolled along still later, he glanced deliberately at his watch and looked at them reproachfully. Apparently, ability as a guide was not one of his military talents; among the Wallabiana of 1922 are "Buffalo Reflections: An end to everything, even Monash short cuts." There are several references to the "Monash stick order."'
'He had a very high opinion of his teacher, Wallaby W.C. Kernot. About two or three months before Monash passed away, Wallaby Frank Ellis, principal of the Melbourne Technical College, wrote to him, requesting him to speak at the opening of the new Engineering School. The reply was that Sir John Monash would attend the ceremony if he could. The writer advised Ellis to ask General Monash to dedicate the new school to the memory of Professor W.C. Kernot. At once came the reply that he would be delighted to pay this tribute, and his speech, the last that he ever made, ws a masterpiece in its eloquent appreciation of the man, and a pious eulogy of his revered teacher.'
Alfred Hart, page 34 in the reprint edition.
- 1913 - 1931
- Membership - Wallaby Club
Sources used to compile this entry: Attwood, Harold (ed.), The Centenary History of the Wallaby Club, Landscape Publications, Mont Albert, 1993. List of members page 137, additional references page 7, 34, 37, 39, 44, 64, 65, 67, 83, 95, 115, photographs page 21, 42, 52, imaged documents page 35, 36.
Prepared by: Gavan McCarthy
Created: 14 March 2007, Last modified: 12 April 2007
A Private Club
The Wallaby Club is a Melbourne-based walking club established in 1894 with a strong bias towards good fellowship, talking and an appreciation of both the natural and built environments. Membership is strictly limited and is by invitation only.
Dates and details of annual walks from 1894.