What is Freemasonry?

Ask any of the 15,000 Freemasons in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory this question, and you’ll probably get 15,000 different answers!

Freemasonry means different things to each member.

Some would say it’s a personal development program which promotes family and community values. Others would describe Freemasonry as a chance for both social interaction and “philosophical brainstorming”. Freemasonry also provides an opportunity for public service, and hands-on involvement in charitable or community issues.

The short answer to the question, “What is Freemasonry” is that it’s one of the world’s oldest and largest fraternal organisations. Made up of 5 million Freemasons around the world, it has adopted the fundamental principles of integrity, goodwill, and charity as foundations for an individual’s life and character.

Interested in becoming a Freemason? Find out how

A Freemason strives to be:

  • Moral and ethical.

  • He strives to show justice, act honourably, and be loyal.

  • A Freemason teaches and practices concern for people.

  • He cares for the less fortunate, and helps those in need.

  • Irrespective of cultural or ethnic background.

  • Irrespective of religious beliefs.

  • Irrespective of any differences in social standing or education.

A Brief History of Freemasonry

United Grand Lodge of England

The actual origins of Freemasonry have been lost in time, but it is known that it arose from the guilds of stonemasons which constructed Europe’s castles and cathedrals during the Middle Ages.

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.

In England in 1717 four Lodges decided to create a formal organisation by forming the first Grand Lodge. Freemasonry then spread across Europe and to other countries with amazing speed.

In Australia, Freemasonry can be traced to the First Fleet’s arrival in 1788. The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales was officially formed in 1888, and 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.

Ancient Freemasons used the skirret to mark out the ground for the foundations of the intended building and the compasses were used to determine, with accuracy and precision the limits and proportions of its several parts.

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.

Freemasonry uses the square and compasses to remind members of basic guidelines for their dealings with other men.

Square and Compasses

The square symbolises integrity, truthfulness, and honour, while the compasses symbolise the importance of self-control, or keeping emotion and prejudice within bounds.

Masonic History

Typical Lodge Meetings

Before the Meeting

Masons usually gather once a month for a daytime or evening meeting lasting two to three hours. Prior to monthly meetings the doors are generally open one hour beforehand for social purposes.

View Our Meeting Schedule

During the Meeting

Like any organisation there’s a business element, with minutes, accounts, and plans for upcoming events to be read and discussed among the members. But a Lodge meeting is also ceremonial, involving a series of formalised and symbolic presentations which use drama to highlight the codes of conduct by which a Freemason strives to live.

During a Lodge meeting, instruction is also provided to assist in a Mason’s daily life and personal development. This may be on a range of topics, including public speaking, communication skills, leadership skills, or business management.

After the Meeting

The final part of the meeting involves all Lodge members dining together. With Masons coming from all age groups and from all walks of life, the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal with each other provides the perfect chance to “catch up”, and yet another forum for an exchange of ideas.

Lodge Social Activities

Apart from our regular meetings, we organise social activities involving the entire family.

Theatre Parties

Sports Days



The holding of these types of events helps develop closer bonds, not just between Masons, but among their families and the community as well.

Give us a call and come along to our regular meeting, see why so many men are joining this unique organisation.

Contact Us Today!

Freemasonry FAQ

What are the Tenets of Freemasonry?2020-01-25T20:22:38+11:00

The Tenets of Freemasonry are ethical principles that are acceptable to all good men. It teaches tolerance toward all mankind.

It is known throughout the world.

Freemasonry proudly proclaims that it consists of men bound together by bonds of Brotherly Love and Truth.

It dictates to no man as to his beliefs, either religious or secular. It seeks no advantage for its members through business or politics.

Freemasonry is not a forum for discussion on partisan affairs.

Are the Freemasons a Secret Society?2020-01-25T20:22:00+11:00

Contrary to what many believe, Freemasonry is not a secret society. It does not hide its existence or its membership. There has been no attempt to conceal the purpose, aims and principles of Freemasonry. It is an organization formed and existing on the broad basis of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Its constitutions are published for the world to behold. Its rules and regulations are open for inspection.

What are the secrets of Freemasonry?2020-01-25T20:21:17+11:00

The secrets of Freemasonry are the passwords, signs and the handshake used by Freemasons as modes of recognition. Though there are elements of the ceremonial which are generally not discussed in detail they are by no means secret. Freemasons are sometimes reluctant to discuss these in order to retain an element of surprise for joining members in much the same way as the key points of a movie are not generally discussed in order to avoid spoiling the ending.

Why do you have secrets if you’ve got nothing to hide?2020-01-25T20:20:16+11:00

Freemasons persist in the practice of their traditional secrets in a purely symbolic fashion. The communication of these secrets is meant to act as a symbolic test of an applicants honour and trustworthiness. The symbolic keeping of a secret demonstrates to the candidate importance of being a man of integrity who can be trusted to keep his word.

Is Freemasonry a religion?2020-01-25T20:19:21+11:00

No. In general, a religion is defined as a set of strictly codified beliefs regarding the cause, nature and purpose of existence. A religion also generally offers a path to salvation or enlightenment. Freemasonry offers none of these things. Although Freemasonry requires its members to express a belief in an underlying principle of order in the universe it at the same time explicitly forbids discussion of the particular details of that belief.

Freemasonry is a sectarian organization that encourages tolerance and inter-faith understanding. The various religions represented amongst Freemasons include Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhist, Taoist and many others.

Can women join Freemasonry?2020-01-25T20:18:20+11:00

Although the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capitol Territory, does not accept female applicants to join traditional Craft Freemasonry there are many activities and groups within Freemasonry that welcome the participation of Women.

Traditional Freemasonry, as offered by the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capitol Territory, offers men in the community an important support structure that breaks down the isolation imposed by expectations placed on modern masculinity. Modern life offers very few emotional support structures for men.

Traditional Craft Freemasonry offers men an environment in which the development of masculinity can be appropriately nurtured, challenged and guided.

Why do you wear those funny aprons?2020-01-25T20:17:24+11:00

The traditional dress of Freemasonry, the apron, is a recollection of its symbolic beginnings in medieval stonemason’s guilds. Traditionally, medieval masons wore aprons while working in the quarries, cutting and shaping the stonework for their buildings. The apron worn by modern Freemasons is an allusion to this customary story. The apron is predominantly white, symbolizing innocence, with decoration to show the wearers progression or office within the organization.

What happens at a Masonic Meeting?2020-01-25T20:16:01+11:00

A Masonic meeting is conducted along similar lines to any other club. General business is conducted including the presentation of minutes from the previous meeting and the current finances discussed, visitors from other Lodges are welcomed, a lecture may be given or new members introduced to the Lodge in an initiation ceremony and the meeting is generally concluded with a meal and perhaps entertainment.

If you are curious about what goes on in a lodge the simplest thing to do is find out for yourself. Many Masonic meetings, particularly those of Grand Lodge, are open to the public.

Does being a Freemason give you an unfair advantage in business or get you out of trouble with the law?2020-01-25T19:13:43+11:00

No. Freemasons are strictly forbidden from using Freemasonry as a tool for social or financial advancement and to do so would be considered contrary to the nature and essence of Freemasonry.

Similarly Freemasons are taught that first and foremost they must be law abiding citizens of the country in which they live and that they must follow the statutes and regulations of that country before any Masonic obligation.

Freemasons believe in the principles of equality and a fair go. To attempt to trade on ones Freemasonry to gain advantage would be considered serious misconduct for a Freemason as it would bring the reputation of Freemasonry itself into disrepute.

Are Freemasons expected to prefer fellow Masons at the expense of others in giving jobs, promotions, contracts and the like?2020-01-25T19:10:37+11:00

Absolutely not. That would be a misuse of membership and subject to Masonic discipline. On his entry into Freemasonry each candidate states unequivocally that he expects no material gain from his membership. At various stages during the three ceremonies of his admission and when he is presented with a certificate from Grand Lodge that the admission ceremonies have been completed, he is forcefully reminded that attempts to gain preferment or material gain for himself or others is a misuse of membership which will not be tolerated. The Book of Constitutions, which every candidate receives, contains strict rules governing abuse of membership which can result in penalties varying from temporary suspension to expulsion.

Is Freemasonry a Secret World Government?2020-01-25T19:09:07+11:00

No. Freemasonry itself does not have a world governing body, each province and area being broken down into independent, wholly self regulating and autonomous territories governed by their own Grand Lodge.

The lodges within New South Wales, for example, report to the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the ACT. The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, however reports to no higher body. These territories are (and in some cases are not) in amity with each other, maintaining correspondence and fraternal relations but in no way are they ultimately accountable to each other.

Furthermore Freemasonry is largely a voluntary institution relying on the generous donation of its member’s spare time. Given the locally independent and voluntary nature of Freemasonry it would be impossible for it to operate any kind of Secret World Government.

Is Freemasonry a Charity?2020-01-25T19:08:30+11:00

Freemasonry is not specifically a charity organization in that the general public can not make tax deductible donations nor can Freemasons solicit donations directly. Rather Freemasonry is an organization that encourages and facilitates the individual charity of its members locally, as well as on a large scale.

Freemasons are encouraged to be active in supporting their community and individual lodges are often involved locally supporting schools, sports teams and other community groups or restoring or maintaining community facilities such as playgrounds and parks. There are a number of methods to apply to Freemasons for charitable support but by far the best is to contact your local lodge.

Why do your ‘obligations’ contain hideous penalties?2020-01-25T19:07:03+11:00

They no longer do. When Masonic ritual was developing in the late 1600’s and 1700’s it was quite common for legal and civil oaths to include physical penalties and Freemasonry simply followed the practice of the times. In Freemasonry, however, the physical penalties were always symbolic and were never carried out.

Isn’t it true that Freemasons only look after each other?2020-01-25T19:05:48+11:00

No. From its earliest days, Freemasonry has been involved in charitable activities. Since its inception, Freemasonry has provided support not only for widows and orphans of Freemasons but also for many others within the community. Whilst some Masonic charities cater specifically but not exclusively for Masons or their dependents, others make significant grants to non- Masonic organisations. On a local level, lodges give substantial support to local causes.

Why do you call it the VSL and not the Bible?2020-01-25T19:04:48+11:00

To the majority of Freemasons the Volume of the Sacred Law is the Bible. There are many in Freemasonry, however, who are not Christian and to them the Bible is not their sacred book and they will make their promises on the book which is regarded as sacred to their religion. The Bible will always be present in an English lodge but as the organisation welcomes men of many different faiths, it is called the Volume of the Sacred Law. Thus, when the Volume of the Sacred Law is referred to in ceremonies, to a non-Christian it will be the holy book of his religion and to a Christian it will be the Bible.

Our Lodges

Learn more about the four craft lodges who call our Masonic Centre home.

Lodge Tweed United
No. 136

Lodge Pacific
No. 298

Twin Towns Daylight Lodge
No. 436

Lodge Dawn
No. 511

Twin Towns Masonic Centre – Order Pathway

Our Lodges

Read More

Become a Freemason

Find Out How

Venue & Hall Hire

Book Now