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Enthusiast Millie Tilbrook

A legend in her lifetime

Millie Tilbrook.jpg

Millicent Fannie Tilbrook was born 12 July 1888 and died 20 August 1981

Daughter of Mr Alfred Tilbrook, Co-founder of the Northern Argus newspaper.

"CONGRATULATIONS are due to Miss Millicent Fanny Tilbrook, of William Street, Clare.


On Monday 7 August 1950 she won the Associates' Championship of the North Adelaide Golf Club.


In times past Millie had been Woman's State Country Champion several times and also held championship events at Clare, Blyth and Watervale."

And one year later:

On Saturday 9 June 1951 Miss Millie Tilbrook of Clare, aged 62,

  • won the Watervale Lady's Championship for the seventh time — a truly remarkable record.

  • for this former Country Lady Champion (several times);

  • and the current North Adelaide Associate Champion

  • winning with an excellent 86  (13 ahead of her nearest competitor).

In 1926 Millie hit the first tennis ball to open the Tennis Club for the season.

Golf Champion
Golf Champion
M F Tilbrook Golf Winner.jpg
Millie Tilbrook chooses Golf Club.jpg
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In June 1930 the Mid-North Golf Competitions were conducted by the Watervale Golf Club.

  • In the Women's Events Miss Millie Tilbrook was the most successful, capturing

  • the Mid-North Women's Championship, with 81,

  • the Watervale Women's Open Championship,

  • the Women's Handicap,

  • and the long driving competition.

On Friday 12 September, 1930 at the second and final round of the

Ladies' Country Golf Championship of South Australia was played at the Kooyonga links.

  • The winner was Miss M. F. Tilbrook, Clare,

  • who had a decisive lead of twelve strokes over Miss M. Douglas. of Victor Harbour, who tied for second place with Miss J. Smith, of Clare.

Semi-Finalist at the SA State Women's Golf Championship of 1930

  • Defeated by Mrs. Britten-Jones who retained her lead to be 4 up going to the short 14th.

  • Both played good pitch shots, to be putting for 2, but a stymie cost Miss Tilbrook the hole and the match— 5 and 4.

M F Tillbrook in Women's Golf Title semi
Golf Winner and Championship trophy.jpg
New Teacher at the Clare Institute proposed Jan 1914 

Classes in educational and commercial subjects were proposed under the supervision of Miss M. F. Tilbrook, termed the Principal of the "Clare High School". 

Such a scheme will give undoubted benefit to the community and enhance the financial resources of the Institute. 

First Woman President of the Clare Institute

 Wed 27 Jan 1954

AT the annual meeting of Clare Institute recently, Miss M. F. Tilbrook was appointed President in succession to Mr. R. P. Shepley, retiring President.

"We congratulate her on attaining the status of the first Woman to ever occupy the Presidency from the time of the Library's institution in the early days of Clare".

President - Clare Institute

Miss Tilbrook was a former school mistress of the Clare Institute (and Library), and

  • had a wide knowledge of the English language and literature generally,

  • as well as being a noted teacher of Botany, with a wide understanding of the Flora of Australia.

Miss Tilbrook took over the School of Mrs Barnard who 'departed' her school, established in Clare from 1891, in 1907. Millie was still teaching at St. Barnabas' schoolroom in 1915 (Robert Noye: Clare - A District History p.191)

Coin Collector
Coin Collector

From her Coin collection Miss M. F. Tilbrook has shown

  • a fourpenny piece of the time of Charles II. (1660-1685).
    It is well preserved and on the obverse is the crowned head of the Merry Monarch, the inscription being Carlus II. D.G.M. B.F. & H. Rex.
    Four strokes to denominate the coin are placed behind the King's head.

  • In this collection are also an 1817 shilling (Geo. III.) ;

  • an 1826 shilling (Geo. IV.) ;

  • an 1835 half crown (Wm. IV.);

  • an 1841 copper coin;

  • and a private token issued in 1852 by the firm of Holloway, the obverse showing the head of Professor Holloway — the inscription on the reverse being Holloway's Pills.

Girl Guides Leader
Girl Guides Visiting Day c.1942.jpg
Girl Guides Leader
Girl Guide Hut Clare.jpg

Above: Girl Guide Hut Clare (left)

Clare Scout Hut (right) around 1940's

Young Millie TIlbrook.jpg

Above: Girl Guides Visiting Day c .1942, with Millie Tilbrook at centre back.

Miss Tilbrook had long been associated with the Guide movement in Clare. Miss Tilbrook stepped down from the Guide Movement in 1946.

Girl Guide Presentation.

At the Girl Guide Headquarters, Adelaide, on Saturday evening, May 18th  1946, Mrs. Herbert Rymill, the Chief Commissioner of S.A., presented Miss M. F. Tilbrook with a Certificate of Merit on her resignation from Guiding after eighteen years of active work.

  • Miss Tilbrook was Ranger Captain for 18 years,

  • District Commissioner for 12 years,

  • and Brown Owl for two years,

  • and was Commandant of 13 Guide Camps.

Clare owes a great debt to Miss Tilbrook, and it is due to her inspiring works and energy that Guiding is of such a high standard in Clare.


During her term as District Commissioner, Miss Tilbrook saw the realisation of one of her aims, the building of the Guide Hut in Clare, which was erected free of debt, and had remained so ever since.


  • The hut was built in the park of the Soldiers' Memorial Oval on the Main North Road, but the Clare Guide Hut was demolished many years ago because of white ants.

  • The Hut remaining now is the Clare Scout Hut. The Guide Hut was between the Bruce House (now owned by Council) and the Scout Hut.


At Stanley Flat Miss Tilbrook opened a Brownie Pack, and under the able administration of a good committee and the marvellous services of the Brown Owl, Miss F. Pattullo, this Pack has flourished, and has from time to time been able to send Brownies to join the Clare Guides.

  • During her time as Ranger leader eighty three girls have been enrolled in the Company.
  • IN 1931 Millie reported in detail on the successes of her Clare Rangers.
  • Early in her Guide career, Miss M. F. Tilbrook underwent extensive training in order to obtain a Camper's Licence, and during the years she has held thirteen camps; all in Clare except one that was held at Burra. 

  • When war with Japan broke out the Rangers underwent severe training in order to become an auxiliary to the Women's Police Auxiliary, and because of this became members of the National Emergency Squad.

  • Last year the girls assisted at the Hospital and Clare Institute.


On Wednesday 20 Feb 1946 all the Clare Companies and the Stanley Flat Brownies gathered at the Guide Hut to say good-bye to their District


  • A very happy time was spent in the beautiful rural setting at the back of the Hut.

  • Miss Wien-Smith, Divisional Commissioner, in a few happy words explained the reason for the gathering.

  • Mrs. H. C. Jones, president of the Local Association spoke;

  • also Mrs. Bails, who had been Clare Secretary for many years and had now resigned.

  • The Local Association has had pleasure in making Miss Tilbrook a life member.


Miss Tilbrook was presented with gifts from the Clare Guide Committee, Clare Guides, Clare Rangers, Clare Brownies, and Stanley Flat Brownies.

  • After Miss Tilbrook had responded the singing of Taps concluded the proceedings.


In 1939 Millie published ten popular articles in the Northern Argus newspaper, which the Tilbrook family published entitled

"The Paths of Glory lead but to the Grave."

-- Early History of the Cemeteries of Clare and District. Clare Cemetery.

[From " CLARION'S" Note Book in collaboration with Miss M. F. Tilbrook.]
“Clarion” was the late Eric Tilbrook, one time editor of the Northern Argus. Both of his sons, Ian and Dennis, became editors in later years.

  • "...It is really good, and must have taken a lot of time and labor to compile." Yours faithfully, M. CAMPBELL. "Innisfail," Maitland, May 24, 1939

  • "Kindly convey to Miss Tilbrook the thanks of Mrs. Larkey and myself for photos of CIare and dear old St. Michael's, which we both knew so well in days now long past..." -- From yours truly, J. ST. CLAIR & B. T. LARKEY. Spalding, June 3, 1939.


The Paths of Glory logo.jpg
Women's Agricultural Bureau

Clare Womens' Branch Agricultural Bureau (WAB).

Wed 13 Aug 1952 

The retiring President, Miss Joyce Telfer presided at the Annual Meeting, when the report and balance sheet were presented by the Secretary.

New officers for the ensuing year as follows;

— President, Miss M. F. Tilbrook


Steps were taken by the Advisory Board of Agriculture in October 1917 to form the Women’s Agricultural Bureau (WAB),

  • A rural women’s organisation, the first of its kind in Australia.

  • The first branch began at Riverton in 1917, the oldest rural women’s organisation in Australia.

  • Branches, supported by a government resourced organiser were formed across the state.

  • At its peak there were 84 branches with 2565 members of the WAB, meeting to learn and share their experiences

    • of improving rural family living concentrating on health, nutrition, hygiene and

    • child development and education within the constraints of isolation and distance from urban resources.


A strong element of WAB has been to represent rural women and their families and from 1937, statewide meetings have included resolutions calling for action on a variety of issues including health, education and agricultural research.

  • By 1948 there were 72 active branches and WAB members, led by Florence Perrin of Koolunga, pushed for the need to form their own association separate from the men’s Agricultural Bureau.

  • In 1999, reflecting the changing role of women in rural areas, the Women’s Agricultural Bureau became Women in Agriculture and Business.

Read more: Early Progress of the Women's Agricultural Bureau

WAB Administration and Finance:

PO Box 1142, CLARE SA 5453

E:      Editor: Lee Russell

M F Tilbrook SAWB.jpg
Brass Plaque WAB Logo.jpg
Millie's Discharge Certificate.jpg

Certificate given to Miss Tilbrook in 1963 in honour of her 75th birthday by the Clare branch of the Women's Agricultural Bureau (WAB) of South Australia, and thanking her for her devotion to the cause for the past 15 years.

  • This certificate is held in the Clare Museum of the National Trust, SA

Spotted Donkey Orchid wildflower-body2.j
Millie Tilbrook croquet.jpg

Already in 1922, Millie was lobbying through the Letters column in the Northern Argus for town improvements, representing the Committee for Improvement In and Around Clare.

"Apart from tree planting, an idea advanced by your previous correspondents, and one that should commend itself to all people, there are other works for the people of Clare to be doing."

"If Clare is to retain its natural beauty we must all make an effort to preserve that which now we have, as far as practicable.

  • No other district in the North has such an abundance and such a diversity of wild flowers, and surely an attempt to keep what we now possess is worthy of consideration.

  • I know we have that property known as the old police paddock, and in the Spring it is very beautiful with great wealth of flowers, but great variety of our rarer kinds is seldom to be found in it.

  • On the way to Emu Flat there is 'a very beautiful spot' (I understand it belongs to the Crown Lands Department) and this is really worth making an attempt to keep intact, not so much for  ourselves as for future generations.

    • Here can be found in great profusion very many kinds of orchids—flowers which may perhaps have disappeared altogether in a few year's time.

  • This block of land surely could be acquired from the Government if it were told the reason for the acquisition, and if this were done Clare would then have for all time two tracts of land that would be forever Australian."


Much later in 1942, Millie again wrote to the Editor representing the

Clare Parks And Gardens Committee, regarding some wattle trees in the Police Paddock.


Eva & Millie Tillbrook.jpg

Above: Eva and Millie Tilbrook


Above: The Alfred and Ada Tilbrook family

Millie is the tallest, standing centre-right, Eva is on Millie’s left.
Leslie Noke Tilbrook is probably the fair-haired one


Most of these photographs were kindly provided courtesy of

Mrs. Valerie Tilbrook, long-time Clare Historian

Millie Tilbrook Gravestone.jpg

Millie's mother Ada, was married to Mr. Alfred Tilbrook (1847-1913), who was an editor of the Northern Argus from 1870 to 1913.

Ada was the youngest daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Clode, of North Adelaide. and was married to Mr. Alfred Tilbrook at Christ Church, North Adelaide, in 1871; Millie's mother Ada passed away in 1935.

Siblings of her family were:—

  • Mrs.. J. Stockdale (Laura),

  • Mrs. C. A. Harder (Melbourne),

  • Mrs. S. Moody (Maitland),

  • Mr. L. N. Tilbrook (editor of the Kapunda Herald),

  • Mr. (Albert George) Jack Tilbrook, (Melbourne, Sydney),

  • Miss Eva Tilbrook (1885 -1968, Clare),

  • Miss M. F. Tilbrook (Clare),

  • and a large number of their children. 

Keep Reading
Keep Reading:
Tilbrook Millie 1984 her 90th birthday.j

Above: Millie Tilbrook at 90, with Miss Lucy Ohlmeyer onlooker.

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