Then and Now
NRMA has grown in the last 100 years and it's changed with the times. From humble beginnings, we have evolved into a leader in transport and tourism with over 2.6 million Members. However, as times change, our values remain the same.
We keep you moving
In the 1920s Australia lacked the roads needed to support automobiles - some potholes were so deep cars fell into them and most roads were no better than tracks. So the NRMA started advocating for better roads and transport infrastructure and has since become one of the most powerful lobby groups in Australia. Nowadays, we keep up that fight, also calling for better electric vehicle charging infrastructure, investing in our own network to help Australia navigate the rise of electric cars.
Our early Patrols, or guides as they were known, wore the uniforms of the Light Horse Brigade and rode motorbikes on roads that were often unpassable by car. As Australia's love affair with the open road accelerated, NRMA Roadside Assistance went from strength to strength, giving motorists the confidence to explore.
Long before any other organisation, NRMA encouraged regional tourism. Our first president, JC Watson, was a firm believer that road trips would help local economies and this belief still underpins our strategy. To help enable road trips, NRMA ran ‘motor camps’ all over NSW where Members could camp under the stars and enjoy the outdoors. They were the precursor to our Holiday Parks and Resorts today.
Since 1921, Open Road magazine has found beautiful locations for Members and reported back stories and ideas to inspire people to explore the countryside. As cities grow and drought and bushfires hurt rural communities today, this mission to keep Australia moving remains critical.
We speak out
Because our natural landscapes are so precious, in the 1930s we started to focus on sustainability, speaking out about the "slaughter of the bush", saving koalas from extinction and protecting wildflowers and marine habitats. Since then, we've continued to create conversations around a sustainable future.
In the lead up to the 2000 Olympic Games, the NRMA launched a five-year ‘Clean Air 2000’ campaign to fight pollution and ensure the Sydney Olympics were green. NSW had some of its highest pollution levels ever and NRMA was the first motoring club in the world to take such an initiative.
In 1936, NRMA responded to Members’ concerns about petrol pricing and was behind the formation of a petrol company, Ampol. Decades later, Ampol merged with Caltex. Caltex, of course, is now an NRMA Blue partner, and the my nrma app now enables users to find the cheapest petrol prices in their area.
We keep you safe
Safety has always been a core priority for us, with our patrols always there to help in a crisis. When the child mortality rate of our roads reached a crisis in 1929, we started to implement our school road safety program which continues to prove popular and successful today.
We condemned drunk and reckless driving from day one and helped ensure drink driving became a crime. We also ensured seat belts became mandatory. While it may seem hard to believe now, our stance on seat belts and drink driving was not popular and we received a lot of criticism for our views. However the NRMA leaders at the time felt it was the right thing to do, and they had the community's best interests at heart so they continued undeterred.
Helpfulness is part of the NRMA DNA and as we invest in new areas like ferries, accommodation and electric vehicles, staff from every part of our growing organisation continue to show the same generous spirit as our early patrolmen.