The Dutch Australia Society in the Illawarra (DASI) was founded in 1952 and is affiliated with the Federation of Netherlands Societies. The club publishes a monthly newsletter “De Stuw”.

The aim of DASI is to provide and maintain traditional Dutch cultural functions and provide activities for the elderly Dutch and Australian members.

A number of well attended activities are offered by DASI members who volunteer their time and services:

  • Cards on Monday afternoon
  • Billiards on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • Pensioner group SVDO meets every second Wednesday
  • Social dance evenings
  • Traditional St. Nicholas party for children
  • Oranje Bal
  • Video afternoons
  • Dutch shop; open on billiards days: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 9 to 11.

A Historical Overview of the Dutch Australian Society in Illawarra

By John Vlietstra

It was in July 1952, when a group of Dutch migrants came together in a meeting held on an extremely rainy night, at the Wollongong Surf Club with a view to forming an organisation to assist Dutch migrants who had made their home in the Illawarra. Some lived in Hostel accommodation, some in rented premises and quite a few in tents in both Stuart Park and the Corrimal Camping ground.

And so, the Nederlandse Vereniging in Illawarra was established, with the motto Unity, Solidarity and Mutual Assistance. In later years, the name was altered to Dutch Australian Society in Illawarra.

Those very early pioneers had a tough time of it with flooded garages where they lived and westerly winds blowing over the tents. However, they were able to find the Committee members required to start the Society even though most couldn’t stay in their position long because of the pressures of work and overtime necessary to build their houses.

A series of functions ensued starting with a Film production in honour of the Dutch Queen, and this was followed by various functions held in such places as the old Agricultural Hall at Wollongong Showground, The Pioneer Hall, the RSL Hall and lastly the Corrimal Community Hall. These were all entertaining events and very good attendances were had for the migrants to relieve the boredom of work and their limited accommodation and to have an active and relaxing times with others in similar circumstances.

The Club at a very early stage introduced the ever-popular Stage Plays, as well as Klaverjas and Bridge card evenings and a magazine “De Stuw” was established.

In 1954, the “Steunfonds by Overlijden” (Death Benefit Fund) was established where everyone who contributed $2 would receive a $200 benefit on the misfortune of losing their spouse.

In 1957 at the AGM, a building fund was established, and fund-raising activities started. In 1962 around the time of the 10th Anniversary, the SVDO (Society for the Elderly) was set up to cater not just for the migrants but also for their parents from The Netherlands who came to visit them and who obviously could not speak English. As their migrant children went to work the parents were able to visit the Club.

During the late 60’s, the Junior Dutch Folk dancing group was started, who still perform at our annual St. Nicholaas Party for children. Also, car trials were introduced, some even on weekends with a night stopover in a caravan park. A DASI soccer/football team participated in tournaments in Sydney with representatives from the other Dutch organisations and crews from Dutch ships in Sydney Harbour. In 1965, the Dutch Australian Choir commenced and was given the name “Pro Musica”.

In 1966 the Club started to actively look for its own premises. This resulted in the purchase of a weatherboard Hall on our current site in Woonona.

In 1968, this building was officially opened by the Consul- General Mr. W.G. Zeylstra and the next two years were dedicated to renovations including the addition of the Stage area at the front and a new kitchen and toilets at the back and the whole building was then brick veneered.

Friday nights were the nights when that traditional Dutch card game Klaverjas was played and it attracted a large crowd of participants. This popular game is still being played every Monday afternoon.

An awful lot of people have been involved with DASI, but I want to pay a special tribute to Nelis de Bruin who was Secretary for 2 plus a further 3 years and President for 14 years and involved since the beginning. He was the driving force during the establishment of this fine Clubhouse.

1968 also saw the introduction of Group Travel to the Netherlands, subsidised by KLM, which was a financial bonus for the Club. The first Billiard Club was started in 1969, now grown to three individual clubs. During the 70’s, two Dutch dance bands provided the dance music in the Club.

In 1977 at the 25th Anniversary, President Nelis was honoured by the then Consul General Mr. C.S. van Straten with a decoration from the Netherlands.

A Carnival Group “De Papagaaien” was started and produced many a fun night in this Clubhouse.

The 50th Anniversary was held in the RSL Club just up the road as 400 members and guests wanted to attend.

Over the years many members have actively supported the Club, too many to mention, but besides Nelis, our longest serving Secretary was Kees Prins who organised the secretarial duties for 23 years.

Up until 2020 we have continued to provide our members and friends with entertaining dance evenings, concerts and video presentations, billiards, klaverjas, choir and SVDO and the traditional functions such as Oranje Bal, Leidens Ontzet, and the traditional St. Nicholaas functions for both Children and Adults.

We wish to acknowledge that many members have now passed away, but they were all valuable members of DASI and their contribution will not be forgotten.

Long live the DASI CLUB.

Dutch in Wollongong

Dutch in Wollongong is a Facebook site aimed to keep the Dutch spirit alive in the city of Wollongong. Our Facebook page engages with people that have an interest in the Netherlands and appreciate keeping up with contemporary Dutch culture. This website is about Dutch social activities in our region and is the portal for the following Dutch organisations in Wollongong: 

Catholic Dutch Migrant Association (CDMA)

Dutch Australia Choir “Pro Musica”

Dutch Australia Society in the Illawarra (DASI)

Dutch FM Radio

Dutch Welfare Committee Illawarra

DAW juni 1952

The following history overview was written by Mijntje Hage in 1985 and was published in a booklet by the Federation of Netherlands Societies.