Coffs Harbour’s Bonsai Club turns the big 4-0

Bonsai professional Tony Bebb begins work on his landscape demonstration for Tokonoma Bonsai Society’s 40th anniversary celebration.

THE TOKONOMA Bonsai Society Inc. of Coffs Harbour celebrated its 40th anniversary on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September with a range of educational and social activities, reminiscing and presenting awards.

“Many past members returned for a gala 40th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon at the Sawtell Girl Guides Hall on Saturday,” club President Cheryl Benn told News Of The Area.

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“They joined current members to reminisce and view the beautiful Bonsai on display.”

The club was started 40 ago by ten participants of a TAFE course in Bonsai and their teachers, Julie and Paul Vernon.

“Two foundation members of the club, Maureen McRae and Evelyn Gress, were the perfect choice to cut the anniversary cake at the celebratory lunch.”

Maureen is still an active member of the club 40 years later.

During the luncheon, treasured club member Kalev Margus was made a Life Member.

The event was part of a weekend-long Bonsai program with one of Australia’s premier Bonsai professionals, Tony Bebb.

“The club was privileged to host Tony, who will represent Australia at the forthcoming World Bonsai Convention in October,” said Cheryl.

Tony has a long connection to the Tokonoma Bonsai Club through his father Lindsay Bebb, who was a mentor and supporter to the early members.

“Club members were able to participate in three highly sought-after workshops with tutor Tony Bebb throughout the weekend.”

There was also an opportunity for others to follow the teacher from table to table and learn from him as he worked on a wide variety of species.

Tony’s landscape demonstration on Saturday afternoon was a big crowd pleaser.

“To create his Landscape, Tony was gifted a huge rock with a natural bowl-shaped cavity by club member Gayle Mackenzie, and a prized old Juniper bonsai tree by another former member, Elaine Sparrow.

“The finished product embodied the magnificent history of this great club.

“Everyone watching the demonstration was touched by the significance of Tony’s creative choices,” she said.

The Tokonoma Bonsai Society of Coffs Harbour meets monthly at the Sawtell Girl Guides Hall in Minorie Drive, Toormina.

“Anyone interested in learning about Bonsai is welcome to join us on the first Saturday of every month from 9:30am,” invited Cheryl.

Email club President Cheryl Benn at for further information.


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