THE Australian Association is one of the oldest and most enduring clubs of its type in Hongkong. Established in 1954 as a social club for the small number of Australian expatriates living in the territory at the time, it has grown into one the biggest and most active expatriate social clubs in Hongkong. The aim of the club is simple - to promote contact between Australians and people interested in Australia. This contact comes in the form of encouraging fellowship, promoting activities such as balls, concerts and dinners, and raising money for charities. Indicative of its popularity is the growth it has experienced over the last four years. In that time its membership has more than doubled to more than 1,000 active members, who are now offered myriad social activities throughout the year. The club's original objective, according to its executive officer, Mrs Joan Yates, was to ease the sometimes daunting experience of Australians arriving in Hongkong for the first time. ''Although settling in Hongkong is now a lot easier than it was say 10 or so years ago, it can still be difficult for first arrivals. We try to ease them into Hongkong life by giving them information that they need to set up home,'' she said. But beyond the helping-hand aspect, the association has an active social scene. The club organises two balls a year, has a monthly ''sundowner'' social get together which attracts up to 200 people, has a family sports day and picnic, an annual Australian Rules football day, a Melbourne Cup lunch and participates in the annual DragonBoat Festival and the Sedan Chair Race. The association also has a women's committee that organises a range of activities including morning coffee, lunches, fashion parades, shopping trips and a children's Christmas party. The association is also very active in raising money for local charities. The Australian Association is open to all, not just Australians, and for an annual membership of $300, Ms Yates describes it as the ''cheapest membership in town''.