Situated in the heart of Canberra’s inner north, the Polish-Australian White Eagle Club is a living link to Canberra’s multicultural past, present and future. Poles have a cherished connection to the region – Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, was christened by Polish explorer Paul Edmund Strzelecki in 1840 in honour of Polish and American national hero and patriot Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
Seeking new lives and opportunities in the post-WWII period, many Poles participated in nation-building projects, such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme. Many would later choose the nation’s capital as their future home.
The Polish community in the ACT began to grow significantly from the late 1940s; by the late 1950s, a pressing need had emerged for a venue where Poles and their friends could meet and commune. Over two years, they built a structure close to Civic, which was officially opened on the 3rd of December 1960 under the monicker House of the White Eagle.
In the late 1960s, the federal government donated a parcel of land in the Canberra suburb of Turner so that the Polish community could build a permanent club. Engaging renowned Italian-born modernist architect Dr Enrico Taglietti, construction of the building commenced in 1970 and was officially opened on the 16 of February 1973.
The opening coincided with the 500th anniversary of the birth of Nicolas Copernicus (Polish: Mikolaj Kopernik) – the Polish astronomer who discovered that the earth orbited around the sun. Amongst other prominent Poles, the Club is founded in his honour. Copernicus – the mathematician – was also a rebel, scholar, dreamer, romantic, and critic. Perhaps a Zywiec (or two) can help guide your celestial preferences on local music, food, art, culture and the important things in life next time you join us.
The Club was blessed in 1973 by His Eminence Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the late Pope John Paul II, and the world’s first non-Italian Pontiff.
The current Club operates under the name of the Polish-Australian White Eagle Club Inc. To locals, it’s known popularly as the White Eagle Club, or the Polish Club. With the Club’s future now assured with the signing of a new long term lease, the Club is looking forward to an exciting new era servicing both the Polish community and a growing range of non-Polish recreational and community groups and their activities.
The Club is also a licensed venue, hosting an exciting range of local and overseas music acts and other talented performers.
The bistro serves Polish cuisine as authentic as to be found in anywhere in Australia: delicious soups, sumptuous pierogi (Polish dumplings), hearty schnitzels, mouth-watering bigos (the legendary “hunters’ stew”) and other trademark Polish dishes. The bar has a wide selection of the best beers currently exported by Polish brewers – and for the brave a range of world famous Polish vodkas and liqueurs. Don’t be frightened by Polish spelling – the harder it looks to pronounce, the better it tastes … think of it as a word puzzle with the ultimate culinary/sensory prize!
Like other community groups who use our facilities, we are staffed by volunteers. So we’re dependent on the contributions, time and labour of those involved with the WEC to keep us going. We’re especially thankful to those who’ve helped keep the club going unlike a number of ethnic clubs in the ACT that sadly are no longer with us.
Let us know if you’d like to help out to keep the good times get even better. It’s not just about being a part of our club – but part of a wider hub in the inner north, in Canberra, and surrounds.
So WITAMY!! Come along and be part of the fun.