“In leaving their homeland, the migrants left something of themselves behind. There was a large emptiness, one that no amount of material comfort could fill.”
They had an idea.
Quite a simple idea in the beginning – a little land and a humble clubhouse, where friends could meet, have a chat, a game of bocce, a glass of wine and some regional food.”
The origins of the Veneto Club stretch back to the 1960s, from very informal gatherings of some notable Melbourne-based ‘Veneti’ who met after work occasionally to enjoy a glass of wine and a chat over a social game of bocce.
Nino Bettiol, Riccardo Crema, Angelo Silvestrini, Aldo Saretta were all Trevisani-Veneti who understood the value of creating a place where they could speak their own language and maintain their family values and important Veneto traditions.
it didn’t take long for the news to spread and a small group of influential Italian-Veneti businessmen came together, with support from a huge number of people from the same region.
Their first objective was to find land to build a club for the Veneti.
In 1969, approximately 16 acres were purchased in Bulleen. Here the ‘Veneto’ community held family picnics – the men worked, the women fed the families and the children played.
These gatherings inspired the construction of a small shed, known as ‘la Baracca’, which, in addition to providing shelter from wind and rain, also acted as an informal ‘clubhouse’. Although ‘la Baracca’, which still stands today, is an important piece of Veneto Club history, it was clearly only a temporary step towards reaching a bigger dream.
The dream was to build a prosperous Italian club, based on meaningful family values and Veneto traditions.
The Veneto Club would cater for its ‘Veneti’ – but also provide sporting facilities for its youth and the broader community.
On December 8th, 1973, the official opening took place in front of a crowd of 3000. The Hon. Billy Snedden, The Italian Ambassador to Australia, attended the opening.
The Club became a prominent and symbolic piece of architecture – admired not only within the Italian community but also throughout the Australian community. The hard work, dedication, and commitment of the Veneti of Melbourne had proved itself as a force to be reckoned with.
The Veneto Club was on its way to becoming an icon within the Italian community, as well as the local Australian community. Today, this achievement remains as something the entire Italian community can be proud of.
The Veneto Club has grown from this humble beginning to become a vibrant family and community hub, which provides a range of services and amenities – function rooms for the community, meeting facilities for the corporate sector, as well as sporting groups with facilities for the young (and not so young) including bocce, squash, football (soccer), tennis, basketball, golf group, cycling group, a modern gymnasium for its members and the broader community and an award-winning contemporary family bistro, open for lunch and dinner 7 days per week.
The Veneto Club is also the home of one of only two gondolas that exist outside the Veneto region. The second gondola donated by the Veneto Club to the Grollo family now forms part of the well-known Merchant Restaurant in Melbourne.
We’re so proud to have created a place that will be remembered and enjoyed for generations – a living testimony of the passion and commitment of a few men and women who had a dream that one day they could bring “A Small Corner of the Veneto” to their new home in Australia.