These craftsmen were in possession of highly prized skills in mathematics and architecture, which they in turn passed on to apprentices who had been accepted as being worthy of being taught the secrets of their trade.
These trainees advanced, depending on their proficiency, to become Master Masons.
Freemasonry has been practiced in Australia since the early 19th Century and it is thought that the first Freemason to set foot on Australian soil was Sir Joseph Banks, the botanist on Cook’s voyages of discovery.
The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory is the main governing body of Freemasonry within the Australian state of New South Wales that also wholly encloses the Australian Capital Territory containing the national capital city, Canberra. It is not the oldest Grand Lodge in Australia, (that distinction being held by the Grand Lodge of South Australia, formed in 1884.) deriving its origin directly from the union in 1888 of the earlier 1845 Provincial Grand Lodge under the United Grand Lodge of England and other provincial Grand Lodges.
The first Grand Lodge was opened in Sydney in 1845. The institution grew and prospered; No.2 Lodge was opened in 1845; No.3, No.4, and No.5 (in Kiama on the New South Wales South Coast) in 1846; No.6 and No.8 in 1847; No.7 in 1850.
The Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland were also warranting lodges in New South Wales, and creating their own provincial Grand Lodges.
On 16 August 1888, after considerable consultation, the Masters and Wardens of the one hundred and eighty-three lodges assembled, the articles of union were again adopted, and the ” United Grand Lodge of New South Wales “ declared to be duly constituted and established. The first Grand Master was Lord Carrington, the Governor of New South Wales.
The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales later became responsible for Freemasonry in the Australian Capital Territory.
Freemasonry and Symbolism
Freemasonry makes symbolic use of various practices and implements of those guilds from the Middle Ages.
The craftsmen of yesteryear adopted a series of exclusive signs and words to be able to demonstrate that they were trained masons, and to enable easy identification as they moved from site to site.
In that same way, the Masons of today use a series of signs and words to indicate their progress through the various stages of Freemasonry.
Stonemasons from centuries ago wore leather aprons to carry their working implements and to protect themselves from flying chips of stone.
Modern Masons wear an embroidered lambskin apron to distinguish rank. As the Mason’s proficiency increases, the design of his apron becomes more ornate.
Those skilled workers in times gone by used the square to test the accuracy of their stonework – to prove that it was square with the other sides and that angles were identical.
They also used compasses to mark out the ground from the scaled plans of their intended building.
Freemasonry uses the square and compasses to remind members of basic guidelines for their dealings with other men.
The square symbolises integrity, truthfulness, and honour, while the compasses symbolise the importance of self-control, or keeping emotion and prejudice within bounds.