For a few minutes, the veil of secrecy on the brotherhood of Freemasons was lifted at Jamestown on Friday.
I was an invited guest at the hand-over dinner to new Worshipful Master of The Victoria Lodge 26 Robert Heath, of Burra.
After the prayer was offered by Ken Roskell at the event at the Jamestown Bowling Club, members took part in an intricate ceremony meant to evoke a 21-gun royal salute on behalf of the Queen.
The members were asked to give “seven by three” – equivalent to 21 – and they responded with hand gestures and claps.
The gestures included pointing fingers to the left and right and the claps that were offered in similar style.
Despite the open-ness of the dinner, the actual induction of the Worshipful Master was conducted earlier in secret some distance away at the Lodge Hall.
There were some telltale traditions – Mr Heath putting his hand on his heart and his brow at various times during his contribution to the dinner.
The prayers offered by Mr Roskell gave thanks to the Great Architect of The Universe and recognised the “ancient members of our craft”.
To introduce the various toasts to the crowd of about 100, director of ceremonies Colin Kaehne clanged a bell.
Freemasons wore white shirts and black suits, some with tails.
Completing the links with England, a descendant of famous explorer Matthew Flinders attended.
Jillian Ketteridge, who accompanied Freemason James Assheton, of Adelaide, said her grandfather was the grandson of Flinders.
She immediately noticed the connection with her forebear through the presence of The Flinders News at the dinner.
She said she was “very honoured” to have he family connection and was involved in the 2002 centenary celebrations of Flinders and French explorer Baudin at Encounter Bay.
Ms Ketteridge works in the education department supervising the rebuilding of fire-damaged and vandalism-ravaged classrooms. She said she was “continuing the legacy of Matthew Flinders”.
The new Worshipful Master was described as a “dedicated community man” who was involved in Rotary and Operation Flinders.
“If you have Rob as a friend, you have got a friend,” said Brenton Hollitt, of Aurora Australis Lodge 245.
Mr Heath said he would lead the Lodge with pride and thanked his wife Marg.
He presented a bouquet to Trevor and Veronica Simpson for their support.
Freemasons are the oldest, biggest and most widely recognised fraternal organisation in the world, having been founded in London in 1717,