The Club was initially known as the 'Netherlands Society Abel Tasman' and first opened its doors on the 1st November 1958 in Barkly Street, St Kilda.
The Club changed its name on the 30th October 1978 to its present name of Dutch Club 'Abel Tasman'.
The Club organises several activities and in recent years has also become an umbrella organisation for other groups. Sub-committees/groups include the Dutch Connection Australia, the Dutch Australia Heritage Centre, the Erasmus Foundation and Carnegie Hall (Saturday nights live music).
It has always been the aim of the Dutch Club to unite the Dutch community, to support each other wherever possible and work together as a team. It hasn't always been easy, however the resilience of the Club is symbolic and reflective of the spirit of the Dutch character. It is still the Clubs mission statement of today and we are hoping to continue its legacy for many years and many events to come.
Our vision is that Dutch Club Abel Tasman is the place to be for Dutch events.
The 1960's was a time where few people had TV, the Club closed at 6pm and people would often go out to the picture theatres and arrive at the Dutch Club afterwards for a social drink and get together with friends for a chat and to enjoy the music.
In the mid 1960's, before the Club obtained a Liquor Licence, alcohol was sold regardless and it was a regular occurrence for a local resident to dob the Club in for selling 'sly grog' and for heavy fines to be given to the Club. Until someone got smart and started buying alcohol from this very same local resident!
The premised at Barkly street became too small and the Club moved to premised at 16 Dickens Street, Elwood, which contained a big dancefloor. This building was formerly known as the cabaret club 'Moulin Rouge'. The official opening was held on 21st February 1970. Unfortunately this premises was vacated again, because the owners didn't want to get into trouble in regards to the Club selling alcohol without having obtained the licence from the council (because the Club did hold a current Liquor Licence).
Then finally after 9 months the Club relocated to the current premises at 60 Rosstown Road in Carnegie! The official opening was on Saturday 8th December 1972. The Club opened its doors to many sub-clubs, for example a Bridge Club, Klaverjas Club, Biljart Club, Table Tennis Club, Dam Club, Jokers and the Soccer Club.
On 24th November 1973 the Club celebrated its 15 year history. This day marked the 332 year anniversary of sailor/explorer Captain Abel Tasman having set foot on Australian soil. Among its achievements during 15 years of establishment was membership of over 300, the purchase of its very own premises, establishing the Club as a non-profit organisation and many more. The band for the 15th anniversary was 'The Jantjes' which is apt as in Dutch 'jantjes'; is the nickname for a sailor.
The Club enjoyed a time of great popularity and regular full houses due to the selling of alcohol and its entertainment. However bad luck truck as the Clubs licence was lost due to the Club not following the rules regarding the visitors books and sale of alcohol.
Bad luck struck again on 28th September 1980 when the Club suffered from a fire which started around 4am. It took 15 firemen and 25 minutes to contain the fire and the area the Dutch Club used was burnt to the ground. Thanks to a select group of members the Clubrooms were rebuilt. It took many long hours, many generous pockets and dedicated volunteers and the Club was erected again with its large dance floor, spacious seating and fabulous bar. In 1981 a kitchen was started up by Paula and Theo Derks and hot snacks were made on a portable gas cooker, rolls, coffee and tea were also available.
The Club was officially reopened on the 18th june 1982 and it was a celebration of its uniqueness since it was one of the truly multi-cultural clubs in Victoria in the post war era. The Club can boast a membership of not only Dutch but many Australian, Greek, English and many other nationalities. The people who helped rebuild the Abel Tasman came from all cultures and walks of life. The Club once again slowly grew and in 1987 it had a membership of 550.
That was the very beginning of the Club and its members. It hasn't been an easy run, the Club has survived many fines, raids and even the fire in 1980, after which the members of the Dutch community rebuilt the Club. It shows the spirit of the Dutch Club Abel Tasman and its members: resilience, community and an ability to adapt. Symbolic for the character of the Dutch, including the Dutch Courage!
Live bands on a Saturday night is still one of its outstanding achievements. Many people walk through the door, to this day, and enjoy the entertainment of live bands. The dancefloor is always packed. The kitchen sells hot food and the bar is busy from beginning to the end of the night.
Kevin Bolt began to recruit bands from about 2008 and has built up a membership base of around 750 social members: an amazing achievement. The atmosphere is one that could be decribed as 'typically Dutch' friendly, fun and unique!
The Abel Tasman is in a very good location - in November 1998 the building was valued between $220,000 and $260,000. Now it is worth many times that. Time can make a big difference.
In 2006 a new committee was formed with Roel Rolleman as President and Michael Gijsberts as the Vice-President. The new commitment made was to preserve the Club for the generations to come. Funds were borowed from the Association in order to refurbish the whole building. The result is a new bar, kitchen, dance-floor, surround sound system and large screens to show sporting events. The showing of the 2006 World- and the 2008 European Soccer Cups were a great success, even though the games were aired in the middle of the night!
Also in 2006 the Association's 'Koninginnebal' was held at the Abel Tasman and has now become a yearly tradition.
Roel Rolleman was the longest serving president. He was a very active figure in the Dutch community for more than 40 years. For many people he was a familiar face at all the major Dutch community events. Amongst the many committee roles Roel has held he was also the president of the Holland Festival for 10 years. Originally Roelof worked in the ceramic tile industry - wholesale, retail, import export and fixing of ceramic tiles - and retired in 2013.
The Dutch Club Abel Tasman wouldn’t be here today in Carnegie if it hadn’t been for the vision Roelof had when he took on the role of president for the Club in 2006. Together with some long serving committee members and some new ones he managed to keep the Club running. This is a true credit to the dedication and commitment to the Club as well as the Dutch community.