Local Freemasons open up to public

Cobar Lodge No 97 Worshipful Master Elect Charlie Thompson, secretary Tony Punzet with visitors Kay Stingemore and her daughter Summer-Rose on Saturday at the Freemasons Open Day, which was part of a state-wide event.

For many years the Freemasonry organisation has been shrouded in secrets and mystery however that’s all now starting to change.

All across NSW and the ACT on Saturday the doors to the Lodges of local Freemasonry organisations were thrown open to the public with inquisitive visitors given tours and information about one of the world’s oldest fraternal organisations.

Freemasons first met in Cobar on June 21, 1881 at the Cobar Court House with the first Masonic centre consecrated in 1883 in Barton Street (the former Town Hall Cinema building).

In 1971 the Lodge was moved to the historic band hall in Bourke Street, where members still meet on a monthly basis.

As an organisation, the aim of Freemasonry is “to make good men better”. It sets high standards of behaviour for its members which are to be maintained in their daily lives and to be good examples to their communities.

Freemasonry also offers members opportunities for self-development and community service.

The Cobar Lodge is currently under the leadership of Worshipful Master Elect (and local dentist) Charlie Thompson.

Mr Thompson explained that like any other local charity or sporting committee, he was elected as the Master (or president).

He said the Lodge has a set of rules and a constitution to abide by but they can basically run their lodges their own way as long as they operate within the given guidelines.

He said ultimately many years of keeping secret what Freemasonry was all about and what goes on at Lodge meetings had hurt the organisation and had made it difficult to recruit new members.

“That’s what these Open Days are for, to give people a bit of an idea what we are all about,” Mr Thompson said.

Visitors to the Cobar Lodge on Saturday were given a tour of the building and were able to watch a short film which explained the origins of Freemasonry; why Masons wear black dinner suits; what some of their symbols mean; dispelled the urban myth about the goat; and gave examples of the good work that Freemasons are doing around the world.