RACQ history: a day of fun for QLD orphans

RACQ was touched this week to receive a letter from a 95 year old member outlining how his relationship with the organisation started with a picnic held for orphans in the 1930s.

Rodney Lippatt has been an RACQ member since 1954 but became aware of the Club as a child in 1931 after he lost both parents in the Great War.

“My introduction to the RACQ was made when I was a boy in an orphanage at Wynnum,” Mr Lippatt said.

“RACQ provided a picnic for the children…where they had the opportunity to reunite with other members of families that had been split up.”

Underprivileged children enjoying their lunch at the RACQ picnic. Source: RACQ Archives.

RACQ Archivist Robyn Harris said the picnics were put on by RACQ members from 1910 to 1969 in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Pialba, Rockhampton and Townsville.

“The idea was to give disadvantaged children a ride in an automobile and enjoy a fun day away from their normal routine,” Ms Harris said.

When the picnics began, the then 50 RACQ members volunteered to drive in a procession of their own vehicles, transporting orphaned, underprivileged and disabled children to the Brisbane suburb of Sandgate. By the 1960s, the cavalcade numbered as many as 600 vehicles, carrying 1600 children.

The procession of vehicles transporting children to the picnic grounds at Sandgate. Source: RACQ Archives.

“Before the outing, members would decorate their cars with streamers, balloons and stickers, and on the drive to Sandgate, they’d blow the motor vehicle’s horn to draw the attention of residents, so the children and residents could wave to each other,” Ms Harris said.

RACQ staff also volunteered to pack food parcels for the children and handed out snacks and beverages on the day.

“Once at Sandgate there was entertainment such as a Punch and Judy show, pony rides, dancing dogs, wading in the pool, fun on the swings, slippery slides and more,” Ms Harris said.

“Sometimes members would bring their canoes and give the children a canoe ride in the wading pool.”

The letter 95 year old Rodney Lippatt wrote to RACQ describing his memories of the 1931 picnic held for Brisbane orphans.

Mr Lippatt described RACQ’s picnic as one of the most anticipated events of the year.

“The Club members gave the children organised games, plus a piece of fruit and a bag of boiled lollies. With these, tasty sandwiches, and a huge slice of cake, it was quite a day!” he said.

“No doubt this generous gesture of the RACQ was stamped indelibly in my mind and that of many hundreds of children.

“Thanks to RACQ past, present and future for their service so capably – and kindly – rendered.”