The History of Austrek: How it all began...

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The History of Austrek: How it all began... is an article about the Australian Star Trek fan club Austrek by Darren Maxwell.

It is here: Austrek History - Austrek, The Star Trek Fan Club Inc, Archived version.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts

By the mid 1980s It was becoming clear that the enthusiastic vigour of the younger members was slowly driving the original members out of the club (or at least away from its social side) as attendances at the meetings had begun to fluctuate, a trend that had begun after the release of The Motion Picture in 1979. Whereas the focal point of the 1970s based club was to celebrate Star Trek The Original Series, now it was being shared with the films which made its presence felt based on the numerous movie costumes the younger fans were now wearing. This generational shift also had a direct impact on the annual Christmas party. Throughout the early 80s the club Christmas party was designed to be a review of the year gone by where older members would get together in quite reflective conversation, yet with the younger fans now on the scene it was clear this format was not going to last.
A few years prior the Baby Boomer original Star Trek series fans experienced the sudden insurgence of young Generation X Star Trek movie fans, now those same movie fans were encountering an influx of new Next Generation fans. By the early 1990s Austrek was in the grip of serious Next Gen fever and seemingly out of nowhere a new wave of fans suddenly arrived at the club who were young, energetic, very technologically savvy and focused solely on The Next Generation as their primary source of Star Trek enjoyment. With these new faces came a wealth of changes in Austrek to capitalise on the massive resurgence and popularity of the Star Trek franchise: From 1992 the bi monthly club meetings changed to monthly; The Captain's Log was now created using a process called "Desktop Publishing" - so the days of using a typewriter and sticky tape page formatting were finally over; the club's membership listing was upgraded from an old paper based filing system to something called a computer database; and the club was now researching all the latest information on Star Trek to include in The Captain’s Log from an emerging technology called the Internet.
By the middle of 1994 Austrek was still a dominant force within Star Trek fandom despite the launch of a rival Star Trek club also based in Melbourne. This year also saw a celebration for The Captain's Log reaching its milestone 200th issue featuring its first ever full colour cover and detailed historical overview. Alongside this was the newly launched Annual Austrek Fete which featured a creative theatrical stage production based around Wolf 359, however, the surge of dynamic growth and popularity Austrek had been experiencing wasn't to last as the club was about to be brought to its knees.

The first casualty the club faced was losing its beloved St Luke's Church Hall venue which caused a major upheaval to the members who had come to regard the South Melbourne venue as a second home. With a burgeoning membership and no venue to call its own, Austrek flittered between Hobson's Bay Secondary College in Albert Park, Coppin Hall in Prahran and St Francis Church in the city.

The second casualty for Austrek was the arrival of the Official Star Trek Fan Club based in NSW, which in turn dissolved Astrex thereby promoting Austrek to be the longest running Star Trek club in Australia. With brand new episodes of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine being sent from the US on video and screened to masses of eager fans at club meetings, Austrek was soon impacted by the Official Club's mandate in that it was no longer permitted to publically show these episodes as they hadn't appeared on TV yet (and wouldn't for at least another year). As a consequence the club lost its primary source of entertainment that it had become heavily reliant on for its programming.

It was now the middle of 1995 and with it came “the worst of times".

With the inability to screen new Star Trek episodes at club meetings and the rival club successfully luring older Austrek/Star Trek fans to their meetings, 1996 became a dark time for Austrek which culminated in a massive membership drop as people, including the committee, left the club in droves seemingly overnight.
As the second oldest Star Trek club in the world and one of the only four surviving social sci-fi fan clubs in Melbourne, the meetings which are still being held on the first Saturday of the month (even though the marathons have long gone), continues to draw a good contingent of fans eager to learn what's going on in the Star Trek and general science fiction world at large. At a time when fan interaction is now heavily Internet dominated, Austrek has proven that there is still great joy to be had when interacting with other Star Trek enthusiasts in a friendly social environment.

References