One hundred and fifteen years ago, a small group of West Australians formed a club which they called the Automobile Club of WA. Back then, motor cars were considered a hobby, and many West Australians found the new transport method loud and obnoxious. The club was formed to support its members by lobbying for their rights and providing advice to motor car owners. This exhibition showcases 15 items which reflect the ways RAC has changed and grown over the past 115 years, and highlights the ways it has always given back to its members and the WA community.

You can read more about the exhibition in the 115 years ebook (PDF 882KB)

Automobile Club of WA car badge

Badges of this era were double sided. On the front, the badge reads “Automobile Club of W.A. Incorp.” and on the reverse, “Royal Automobile Club Associate”. When travelling to Europe with their cars, a member could flip the badge to receive reciprocal benefits from the RAC in Britain.

The Automobile Club of WA car badge. Double sided, it reads “Automobile Club of W.A. Incorp.” and on the reverse, “Royal Automobile Club Associate”. In the centre is a black swan swimming on blue water.


Ravensthorpe directional sign

Black aluminium letters on lead painted jarrah. A dedicated van was used to carry the painted jarrah planks and individual letters, which would be assembled on the side of the road as required.

Old wooden sign for Ravensthorpe

Circa 1920

Road map of the South West portion of Western Australia

This map was the first to feature an accurate scale and maps the south west of the State from Geraldton to Albany. It was compiled by one of RAC’s committeemen, who was not paid for his work.

Yellow front cover of the 1923 Road Map of the South West Portion of Western Australia, compiled by A Knapp.First page of the Road Map - in introductory foreward from A Knapp, followed by information on map price, the maps themselves, omissions, road guides and road signs.Page 6 of the Road Maps - detailing the south-western region of Western Australia, including Busselton, Augusta, Bridgetown and Pemberton.


Schools ahead warning sign

RAC erected these signs to warn motorists to slow down on the approach to schools. When a school requested the signs, the Club would also provide teachers with an educational document about children being safe around roads.

An old, rusted sign from the 1930s stating "Go slow; School." Above the text is the old RAC logo.

Circa 1930

Motor drivers licence

This licence belonged to a Mr Henry Smith and has several years’ worth of licence renewals stuck underneath the 1936 page. Licences of this era had to be renewed every year and did not feature a photo or any other identifying feature.

The front of the Motor Driver's License - an old canvas booklet with the title branded into the fabric.Inside the Motor Driver's License - a page of the diver's information followed by endorsements.


BSA motorcycle with sidecar

These motorcycles were a common sight on WA roads in the 1930s and 1940s, with patrolmen carrying everything they needed in the attached, custom made sidecar.

The yellow BSA motorcycle with sidecar, where the words "RAC Road Patrol" are clearly marked in red.

Circa 1930

Road Patrol newspaper

The Road Patrol was distributed to all members from 1930. Early content included information about road rules, Club activities and guides on how to repair and maintain your vehicle. As the years went on, the publication began to include car reviews and travel routes for recommended holidays.

Front page of the Road Patrol newspaper, dated June 10, 1943

June 1943

Information for road users pamphlet

These pamphlets were produced by RAC to simplify the road rules and give tips on how to drive safely in all road conditions. Rules of this era included a requirement to sound your horn as you approach an intersection.

Front cover of the Road Safety: Information for Road Users and a Digest of the Traffic Regulations pamphlet.Pages 32 and 33 of the Road Safety pamphlet. Page 32: An RAC advertisement encouraging readers to become RAC members. Page 33: Final paragraph on best practices for intersections, followed by introducing hand signals from Police Officers and Traffic Inspectors.


RAC Operating Theatre plaque

RAC opened this state-of-the-art operating theatre in May 1942. In 1979 the plaque was rediscovered by Hollywood Hospital staff and gifted back to RAC for safe keeping.

A silver plaque, dated 31st May 1942, commemorating the RAC's involvement in furnishing and equipping the state-of-the-art operating theatre.


RAC’s first insurance claim

RAC’s first insurance claim was logged six days after the service became available. It contains all the details of the crash, including a hand drawn diagram of the incident.

A yellow manila folder with the motor vehicle insurance information printed on the front.A letter from T W Meagher, President of The Royal Automobile Club, informing members of the commencement of the RAC Insurance Company.

June 1947

New member pack

This member pack includes a letter from the president of the club, a leaflet outlining the benefits members could receive, a membership card, and a form to apply for RAC insurance.

The cover of the 1960 member pack brochure


Souvenir Eyre Highway guide

This guide was produced by the Australian Automobile Association and includes tips about how to drive across the then unsealed Eyre highway, as well as timetables and parking information for the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth.

Front cover of the 1962 Eyre Highway GuidePages 18 and 19 of the Eyre Highway Guide - two maps on each page showing the routes from Ceduna to Eucla, Eucla to Norseman, Norseman to Meddedin, and Merredin to Perth.Pages 20 and 21 of the Eyre Highway Guide - A map showing the routes from Adelaide, South Australia, to Perth, Western Australia. Underneath are three images. Image one: Adelaide's skyline from Weir Restaurant, Torrens Lake. Image two: A blue, black and white woodblock print of a classic car parked on the street in front of a building. Image three: Perth's skyline as seen from the banks of the Swan River.


Accommodation, caravanning and camping directory

The RAC published these accommodation guides for decades to advise members on how to travel within WA and the rest of Australia. It included maps, lists of caravan parks and accommodation providers.

Front cover of the 1965 Accommodation, Caravanning and Camping DirectoryPages 70 and 71 of the 1965 Accommodation, Caravanning and Camping directory - A directory of accommodations listed by suburb followed by a full-page advertisement for the Chrysler Valiant sold at Wentworth Motors, Claremont.


RAC Rescue helicopter

This video shows the RAC Rescue Helicopter winching an unwell patient from a bulk carrier off the coast of Augusta.


Children’s story book

This book was released by RAC as part of the Elephant in the Wheatbelt campaign, a regional road safety initiative aimed at raising awareness of the Wheatbelt’s poor road safety record. Written and illustrated by Sean Avery, the children’s storybook follows a Wheatbelt family on a road trip and has a central message at its heart; ‘we travel safe or not at all’.

Front cover of 'My Family, the Elephant & Me' - A multicoloured elephant made of scrap metal sits on its hind legs while a child rides its tusks. Parents are seated on a picnic bench with their brown dog.