At his Horsemen’s Congress in Gatton, Queensland in 1971 R M Williams invited a
group of prominent harness exhibitors to discuss the formation of an organisation
to promote harness activities. Twelve people met, chose the name Australian Driving
Society, elected Ted Dwyer President and Mary Willsallen Secretary/Treasurer.
The Dwyer family property “Ellmore” near Young in NSW hosted the first Rothmans
National Harness Show in 1972 and the first AGM of the new organisation was held
in the woolshed. The original office bearers were joined by an elected committee
of drivers from Qld. NSW and Victoria.
The National Harness Show program began with show, turnout, period and novelty classes,
and included an 8km marathon and an obstacle driving test. There were twenty five
starters. Dressage was introduced in 1973, and what was then known as 3 Phase Driving
began to collect a dedicated following. The show continued until 1981, becoming
an annual pilgrimage for the harness fraternity, and growing to sixty eight starters.
New events at Yarra Glen, “Dunolly”, “Mill Valley”, Camden and Swan Hill followed
a similar format and continued to foster interest in the sport of Driving.
After nine years as President Ted Dwyer retired and Dr Peter Anderson was elected
President. The early Secretaries were Diana McDonald, Gwen Winzer and Michael Stringer.
Mary Willsallen was Treasurer and became the ADS delegate to the EFA. Newsletter
editors were Judy Dwyer, Gwen Winzer and Ann Robertson. The elected committee was
made up of representatives of most states. The growth of driving clubs was quite
rapid and by 1980 there were 31 affiliated oganisations and approximately 900 members.
It was decided to form State Branches in order to serve the needs of their clubs,
and eventually the new constitution drawn up by Sir Anthony Synnot created the format
the ACDS has today.
The first Annual Conference run in conjunction with the AGM was organised by Mary
Willsallen, Lady Synnot and Judy Dwyer and was held at Burgmann College, ANU Canberra
in 1982. It continued there for several years before being moved around and has
since been held in all states except Tasmania and WA.
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The ACDS today is made up of over 50 clubs. Each of these clubs is individually
constituted (incorporated in their state or territory) and each is affiliated with
the ACDS. These clubs run activates for their members and make these activities
available to members from other clubs. Many run activities to attract her members.
State Branches are made up of an elected executive and delegates from the clubs.
State branches administer matters related to that state, including the running by
clubs of state championships. Each state has panels to promote and manage each of
the driving disciplines, show driving, dressage, combined driving, pleasure and
endurance and historical. States present annual awards and provide funding for events
and junior development.
Federal Council of the ACDS is made up of an elected executive and a delegate elected
or appointed from each state making a total of 10 councillors. The role of Federal
Council is to administer the society providing good governance over matters such
as finances, rules and regulations, the appointment of federal convenors in each
of the carriage driving disciplines, production of the societies quarterly Journal,
horse registrations, national championships and competitions and driver development..
People interested in learning more about carriage driving are advised to contact
an ACDS club (details on this website or contact the Federal Secretary). Here you
can get advice about all aspects of carriage driving. These clubs run activities
such as ‘come and try days’ to encourage and assist new drivers. The ACDS has one
activity memberships available so people interested in carriage driving can participate
in non timed carriage driving activities.