BONSAI NORTHWEST INC is a non profit interest group situated in Melbourne Australia, devoted to helping beginners and the more advanced enthusiast in the art of Bonsai. It was established in 1973.
- instructive bonsai demonstrations by experienced club members and invited guest demonstrators,
- hands-on bonsai workshops with guidance and advice from more experienced members and guest teachers,
- an informative monthly newsletter packed with tips and bonsai news,
- an extensive library of bonsai books, magazines and DVDs,
- bonsai supplies (pots, tools, wire) for sale at special club member prices, and
- the chance to join a friendly, relaxed group of over 150 people who all have an interest in the art of Bonsai.
The group meets at 7:30pm at the Aberfeldie Community Club Inc, 7 Batman Street, Essendon/Aberfeldie VIC Australia on the first Monday of the Month (except January). Refer Melways Map 28-B4.
You are very welcome to come along to any of our meetings and have a look for yourself before deciding to join.
We also exchange newsletters with clubs around the world, so if your club is interested in corresponding, please send us an email.
By joining a bonsai club, you can learn to create a bonsai, to maintain its shape and to keep it alive! Club membership can provide a platform from which to learn a whole new art form.
The group meets at 7:30pm at:
The Aberfeldie Community Club,
7 Batman Street,
on the first Monday of the month (except January).
Ref Melway Map 28-B4
The Early Years written by former President and founding member June Fraser on occasion of the 21st Birthday of Bonsai Northwest Inc. Oct. 10, 1994
The first meeting of our group (The Sunshine Bonsai Group) was held on the 15th August 1973 at the home of Mrs Eunice Gill. Eunice placed an ad in the local newspaper for anyone who was interested in bonsai to get in touch with her. As nine people responded to the add we decided to start a bonsai group.
This was to be a non profit group and our surplus money was given to charity. Our first venue was Castley Hall in Glengala Road Sunshine, with rent of $ 1 per night. It was decided at this meeting to run a raffle at each of our monthly meetings with each member to supply a prize valued at around $1. In July 1974 our funds allowed us to send out newsletters each month and to purchase some pots from the Victorian Bonsai Society. Shortly after this June and Con Clark offered to bring supplies of pots to our meetings, which gave us a bigger selection of pots and tools which at that time we were not financially able (or that adventurous, not sure which) to get for ourselves.
In February 1974 Mrs Elsie Gras gave the first of her many talks and demonstrations to our group. That same year we also started putting up a display of bonsai at the Sunshine Horticultural Society annual show. This gave us a lot more exposure to the general public, as at this stage we were not having a show of our own.
In 1975 the Sunshine Horticultural Society started a Bonsai section at their show with judging being for a novice section and an intermediate section, Mr Frank Hocking judged most of the shows.
Our Library started in 1974 with 2 books purchased from the Victorian Society and we slowly added to this as Frank told us of the availability of new books. We were also bringing to our meetings unwanted trees, pots or whatever as long as it was bonsai related to sell or swap.
By around 1980 we felt we were ready to hold our own show completely separate from Sunshine Horticultural Society and printed up 60 leaflets. By this time we had moved to the Scout Hall in Phoenix Street Sunshine. A lot of our meetings were spent dodging buckets on the floor that were catching rain leaking through the roof, and falling over stacks of newspapers the scouts had collected.
Our first couple of shows were a bit disappointing considering the work we had to do to make it happen. We had to go to Williamstown to borrow trestles. I don't know that we even had covering except for white paper on top of the tables. We probably just covered costs. I feel the hall was a bit out of the way of passing traffic. We had an elaborate security system of boy scouts sleeping in the hall overnight for security and hoped the trees were still on the tables next morning.
In 1981 we started to buy our own pots from June Clark, we spent a whole $150. As we had no where to store our equipment at the hall we would load the car after each meeting with the pots and cups and saucers and take them home.
We did a lot of demonstrations and workshops in the area during the early 80's, which helped to promote bonsai. l think we visited every Garden Club between Melton and Broadmeadows for either a talk or demonstration. I feel we probably would have really struggled to be where we are today if it had not been for Frank Hocking and the Victorian Bonsai Society. In our early days we were all new to bonsai, but Frank always let us know when something was happening, and people like Frank, Elsie Gras, Nell Saffin, Ron Andersen, Max Leversha and June and Con Clark were always willing to offer their time and services for talks or demonstrations and there were others also who ran workshops for us.
Some of our members were able to attend workshops with Japanese Masters when other clubs brought them out and we really started to grow in our art. When I look back at our early meetings it shows just how much we have grown as a club and how the standard of trees has improved. A lot of this is thanks to the committees and other people behind the scenes who have put in so much time and effort for this club.
History Update, by Ian Barnes, Past President and Life Member, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Club.
As June has indicated (above), by the late 1980’s the Sunshine Bonsai Group was meeting at the Scout Hall in Phoenix Street, North Sunshine and regularly holding bonsai shows at the local Primary School. In 1990, the first of several bonsai exhibitions was staged at the Maribyrnong Community Centre, a much larger venue.
By the 21st birthday celebrations, meetings were being held at the West Sunshine Community Centre with shows continuing to be held at Maribyrnong during the mid-90’s. During 1994, the group put on bonsai displays at the Melbourne Zoo, as part of their Garden Weekend, and at Highpoint Shopping Centre.
As membership increased, the Group moved to larger premises at the Yarraville Community Centre, Francis Street, in March 1997. This venue was large enough to accommodate the regular bonsai exhibitions and also had on-site storage facilities for the growing library and sales items (pots, wire, tools, soil, etc.)
On 1st January 2000, the Group changed its name to Bonsai Northwest Incorporated, to better reflect its constituency – the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne.
By 2005, the club had outgrown the community centre and in June of that year, moved to the Yarraville Club, a much larger and more comfortable venue. We continued to be active within the community, regularly giving talks to special interest groups and putting on displays. Annual bonsai exhibitions were also held at the Yarraville Club.
In May 2007, Bonsai Northwest was the host club for the 20th AABC National Bonsai Convention, held at the Clocktower Centre in Moonee Ponds. It featured international demonstrators Michael Persiano (USA) and Marco Invernizzi (Italy) along with Australian demonstrators Arthur Robinson (WA) and Brian Sampson (Vic). It was a great success, and we think, the best convention yet!
In 2009, the club brought international bonsai artist, Robert Steven, from Indonesia to conduct a series of demonstrations and workshops.
By 2011, the cost of remaining at the Yarraville Club had become prohibitive for a not-for-profit club such as ours. So, in May of that year, Bonsai Northwest moved to new premises at the Clifton Park Bowling Club in Essendon, a smaller and more intimate venue. (Now known as the Aberfeldie Community Club).
To celebrate the inaugural World Bonsai Day the club put on a bonsai exhibition at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, on 14-15 May 2011. The venue proved so successful that our annual bonsai exhibitions continue to be held there. In October of that year the club brought international bonsai artist, William N. Valavanis, from USA for a series of demonstrations and workshops.
Bonsai Northwest hosted the 25th AABC National Bonsai Convention in 2012, featuring Boon Manakitivipart (USA) along with Don Deluca and Glen Bebb from Australia. Another resounding success!
40th birthday celebrations were held during 2013.
In 2015, the club brought international bonsai artist, Bjorn Bjorholm, from USA for a week of demonstrations and workshops.
Bonsai Northwest hosted the 31st AABC National Bonsai Convention in 2018, featuring Bjorn Bjorholm (USA), along with Michael Simonetto, Joe Morgan-Payler and Hanh Tran from our own club. We continue to put on the best conventions!
The COVID-19 pandemic and successive lockdowns threw up many challenges during 2020-2021. However, the club managed to maintain contact with its members through social media.
2022 saw regular monthly face-to-face meetings begin again, albeit with face masks and social distancing, but the club gradually got back to (the new) normal.
2023 saw the 50th anniversary of Bonsai Northwest and several events were held to celebrate the event!
Part of the club charter is “...to create interest in Bonsai and inspire participation...to increase enjoyment of Bonsai...to advance appreciation of Bonsai...” Through instructive demonstrations at our club meetings, by experienced members and invited guest demonstrators, and hands-on workshops with guidance from experienced members and guest tutors, the club continues to grow, and the quality of our bonsai continues to improve.
Bonsai Northwest Inc. continues to be a friendly, relaxed group of around 150 people who all have an interest in the
art of bonsai.