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Club history

It took Australians a while to accept cars as a mainstream form of transport because they were seen as a danger to more conventional horse-drawn vehicles when introduced in the early 1900s. With less than 50 cars in Queensland and few quality roads to drive on, motorists were a minority. 

Much of the RACQ’s early activity was devoted to influencing legislation aimed at restricting speed limits and travel around Brisbane. One of the first letters drafted by the club involved a request to police to stop gangs of youths throwing stones at passing cars.

The youths enjoyed a degree of public support, as increasing numbers of horseless carriages; threatened traditional transport businesses and damaged Brisbane’s already sub-par road network. 

These are just some of the earliest examples of the how the club represented the interests of Queensland motorists and more than a century later, advocacy remains at the core of our service to our 1.7 million members.



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How we’ve evolved

Since formation in 1905, the club has constantly evolved to meet the changing needs of Queenslanders. 

Today, we offer member services and products, including insurance, roadside assistance, banking and travel.

1905 - 1920

The early years of the club were notable for helping the motor vehicle become an accepted part of day-to-day life in Queensland. Of the 18 foundation members, 10 were medical practitioners of some kind. The use of vehicles to transport patients helped shine a more positive light on cars.

Day trips to nearby towns proved a popular club activity, and the lack of road signs resulted in the members producing and erecting 100 directional signs to help motorists on their journeys.

This important initiative gave birth to drive tourism in Queensland, which today is a multi-billion dollar industry, and the club's first travel service was created in 1918.

1920 - 1945

In recognition of the club's patriotic efforts during the Great War, George V approved the use of the 'Royal' prefix in 1921 - and with that, the ACQ became the RACQ. It was in 1925 that the club commissioned two mechanics, George Clark and Eddie Henderson, to patrol the roads in search of disabled vehicles. Since then we have rescued more than 30 million motorists from the roadside.

World War II brought about a change in the club’s focus. With the government imposing severe restrictions on motor vehicle use amid widespread protests, the RACQ was instrumental in facilitating petrol rationing and providing maps and road information to the armed forces.

1945 - 1969

Post-war, RACQ purchased army jeeps for use as patrol vehicles and hired many ex-servicemen. It also wielded considerable influence with government, successfully campaigning for increased speed limits and motorists’ rights. From a membership of 18,000 in 1945, in 1957 the club boasted 100,000 members.

1970 - 1989

Queensland's population explosion in the 1970s and 1980s was reflected in the club's rapid expansion of member services, headlined by the establishment of RACQ Insurance.

Technological advances in the 1980s also had a significant effect on club services, with a computer-aided dispatch system for roadside assistance and the introduction of a 24-hour road information service dramatically improving efficiency.

1990 - 2004

The club's identity in its earliest years was defined by its motoring advocacy. As the club approached its centenary, protecting the interests of its members remained a priority, but there was also a focus on creating new services and products.

These included Free2Go, the world’s first free youth motoring club membership, the Show Your Card and Save member benefits program; and discounts on insurance premiums. In 1995, RACQ membership surpassed one million, more than one quarter of Queensland’s total population, and the club began its naming rights sponsorship of community helicopter rescue services throughout the state with Gold Coast-based CareFlight Rescue.

2005 - 2017

The club's centenary in 2005 sparked year-long celebrations, including a state-wide travelling exhibition honouring 100 years of motoring in Queensland, a television documentary, and a hardcover historical reference entitled ‘A Road Well Travelled RACQ's first 100 years’.

In 2006, the club’s advocacy resulted in the launch of the Learn2go program. The online education resource for learner drivers and supervisors was introduced alongside legislative changes.

We also launched the Streets Ahead school program program aimed to develop the road awareness of primary school children. The program has reached more than 50,000 students and won a Queensland road safety award in its first year. In 2015, we launched RACQ Home Assistance and began offering Pet Insurance to our members.

In 2017, RACQ successfully merged with QT Mutual Bank and RACQ Bank was born. RACQ now offers it's members a range of banking products, including home loans, personal loans, transactions accounts and financial planning.

RACQ Today

In 2018, the Digital Road Ahead was created so members could read Queensland’s highest circulating magazine on the go and enjoy bonus extended content. RACQ Living was also brought in-house to give members and non-members access to informative and engaging stories relevant to their needs.

In 2018, RACQ celebrated the 1st Birthday of RACQ Bank, after we merged with QT Mutual Bank.

The RACQ Your shout podcast was launched in early 2019 to give a voice to Queenslanders with an amazing story to tell. We also launched our Fair Fuel App for members to find the cheapest fuel nearest to them.

In 2019, we said goodbye to paper log books and launched our Learner Driver app. Learner drivers can now access our app to log their hours effectively before sending them off to the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

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