Australian Baha'i Sites

‘What I’ve been waiting for’: Celebrating 100 years of the Faith in Tasmania 

Gretta Lamprill was the first Tasmanian to accept the Baha’i Faith. It was early 1924, and John Henry Hyde Dunn was visiting Hobart along with his wife Clara to introduce the teachings off the Australian mainland. 

“This is what I’ve been waiting for!” Gretta was heard to say when she first learned of the Faith. Recalling that event almost 40 years on, she recorded that “Mr. Hyde Dunn spoke passionately about the Faith. Then and there, with the whole of my inner and outer being, I dedicated my life to Baha’u’llah and the Baha’i Faith…” 

Gretta Lamprill was the first person in Tasmania to become a Baha’i.

A nurse living in Hobart, Gretta later became a member of the National Spiritual Assembly, Australia’s national governing council, and was also named a Knight of Baha’u’llah for relocating to the Society Islands (now French Polynesia) and introducing the country to the message of the Faith. 

The Faith’s progress from the 1920s, when Gretta first became a Baha’i, until the establishment of the first Local Spiritual Assembly in Hobart in 1949 was gradual. Since then, the Faith grew steadily with the emergence of communities in Launceston and Devonport.  

In 1942, during World War II, the Baha’i youth of Hobart wrote to the Guardian of the Faith, Shoghi Effendi. A letter dated 31 May 1942 written on his behalf stated: 

To know that there is now, far off in Tasmania, an active and devoted group of young Baha’is, delighted him. It shows what life and vitality is in this Faith that at such a time, far from weakening or being temporarily eclipsed by the terrible tragedies taking place in the world at present, it is growing and spreading and striking new roots all over the world!

The task facing the young Baha’is in particular, is very great. For they are the ones who, with their fellow youth the world over, will be called upon after the war to help build the future.1 

Shoghi Effendi

Last month, the Tasmanian Baha’i community celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Faith in the state, paying tribute to Gretta and the early Baha’is who paved the way for the development of the community-building efforts through the decades. 

Gretta’s niece, Jane Teniswood, attended the celebration in Kingborough, speaking about the influence her aunt had on her life and the passion with which she spoke about her Faith. 

The centenary celebration held in Kingborough, Tasmania.

The event was also attended by members of the Kingborough Council including Mayor Paula Wriedt and Councillor Amanda Midgely.  

Councillor Wriedt spoke about the importance of building an inclusive culture in Kingborough, where diversity of thought and background was valued. She thanked the Baha’i community for its contributions to the local community over the past four years donating and planting black gums along the path leading down to the Aboriginal garden and more than 300 native shrubs, grasses, and groundcovers in three of the garden beds overlooking the Derwent estuary. 

The celebrations also featured a special violin performance, a prayer for unity, and barbecue lunch at the Bicentennial Park. 

A celebration was also held at the iconic Baha’i Centre of Learning in Hobart, with close to 80 people in attendance. The day-long event featured a presentation about how the Faith arrived in Tasmania, a cameo production telling the story of Hyde and Clara Dunn’s decision to move to Australia, children’s activities, and a warming soup and bread lunch. 

In north-western Tasmania, friends gathered in the mountainous region of Erriba as violinist Nigel Davidson and soul singer Garry Sterling captivated the audience in an intimate concert organised as part of their centenary travelling tour.

Garry Sterling and Nigel Davidson at the home concert in Erriba as part of their travelling tour for the centenary.

Over the past century, the Tasmanian Baha’i community’s activities have unfolded within an all-embracing framework of unity envisioned by Baha’u’llah. With Hobart home to its renowned Baha’i Centre of Learning, bringing together individuals from all walks of life who share a commitment to serving humanity, the community’s ever-evolving endeavors are viewed by all as an example of inclusivity and diversity. 

Footnotes

  1. Shoghi Effendi, Extract from Messages to the Antipodes[]

Thanks for reading.

Subscribe

Hobart

The Baha’i community of Hobart is made up of a number of Local Spiritual Assemblies, or local governing councils, and has a thriving community-building process that addresses the moral educational needs of children, young people and adults. The community is also devoted to participating in social transformation projects, and is home to its very own […]

More

Published in May, 2024, in Community Stories > Our History

Available online at: horizons.bahai.org.au/community-stories/what-ive-been-waiting-for-celebrating-100-years-of-the-faith-in-tasmania/

Related Stories

Perth

A centenary of building vibrant communities in Western Australia 

In 1924, newly-arrived American Baha’is John Henry Hyde Dunn and Clara Dunn visited Perth along with the first Australian Baha’i woman, Effie Baker. Spending four months in the Western Australian ...

Perth

Children’s Class participants raise funds for MND in Fremantle

A children’s class in Fremantle, Western Australia has raised more than $3200 for Motor Neurone Disease following a festive fundraising event held at Richmond Primary School.  Baha’i children’s ...

Video
Shell Cove

The emergence of a school system rooted in Baha’i moral education 

Over the past few years, a group of parents in Shell Cove, New South Wales have been working to forge a strong relationship with the local primary school and collaborating with the principal to ...

Elizabeth

Learning how to work in pockets 

More than 100 families are connected to the capacity-building process unfolding in the community of Elizabeth in Adelaide, with many children, young people and adults reflecting, consulting and ...

Perth

Promoting the well-being of our future generations

Four hundred teddy bears have been donated to First Nations children in remote Western Australia following an event organised to coincide with International Children’s Day.  Held in ...

Ballarat

Ballarat junior youth support those addressing homelessness and food insecurity

A junior youth group in Ballarat, Victoria has focused its latest service project on housing and food insecurity at a time when the region’s social services are under increased pressure.  The ...