On 6 January 1929, 7 days after a tragic double drowning at Avoca Beach, the community got together and the foundation club for Avoca Beach Surf Life Saving Club was formed. Four months later the club had 12 Foundation Bronze Holders, even though the Club still did not have its own reel! In 1930 the Club gained its first surfboat and a further 6 Bronze Medallion holders.
In 1929, the Clubhouse was valued at 115 pounds; it was built by voluntary labour and was later relocated to its present position. By 1950’s the Clubhouse was far too small for its needs and in 1958 the new plans for a Clubhouse were finalised with the present Clubhouse completed in the 1964-65 season. 1971 saw a major extension to the back, and then in the 2004-2005 season plans were again finalised and grants sourced for the refurbishment and rebuilding of the Clubhouse, with the building reopened in August 2006.
The club held its first surf carnival on New Year’s Day, 1930, becoming an annual event for the next 50 years. In addition to surfing events woodchopping and horse races were also held.
The Ladies Auxiliary, was formed in 1946, and has worked tirelessly for the club over the years. The Avoca Beach Nippers commenced in 1965 and has regularly been placed in the top ten clubs at the State Championships.
In 2005 building of a new club house commenced thanks to sponsorship from the community at large through the Buy a brick program.
Club: Avoca Beach SLSC
Year Established: 1929
Year First Club House Built: 1929
Year Patrols Commenced: 1929
Avoca Beach SLSC first Clubhouse
THE FOUNDATION OF AVOCA BEACH SURF LIFESAVING CLUB
During the late 1930s, a decision was made to relocate the surf club building to the southern end of the beach. It seemed logical, as several waves had begun to creep awfully close to the clubs footsteps due to natural erosion over the years. Furthermore, members were constantly lifting surfboats, skis and surfboards south towards the permanent rip (where the rock pool currently stands) for rescues and ease of access to the outer break. It is at around this time (late 1930’s early 1940’s) that small fibro holiday houses started appearing along the beachside. In fact, the popularity of tourism in the area was growing so fast, that for many years Gosford Council operated a camping ground where the club stands today.
As the years past the club went through many phases, almost defunct during the war years, 1939 to 1945, but Avoca Beach still had its women to pick up the slack and a few blokes young and old to keep the club moving on. When war broke out in 1939, about 50 per cent of Australian lifesaving members signed up in the first year and they found opportunities to use their skills in many unexpected places. After several British drownings occurred in Palestine, beach patrols were formed in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Diggers also set up a surf club in the Changi prisoner of war camp and, in 1941, a surf Carnival was held on Gaza beach complete with flags, caps and a march-past.
For both the diggers serving their country at war, and the ladies serving their country at home, surf lifesaving became important for recreation and morale. Those who participated in surf clubs during the war period saw the beginning of an era, it was a mix of younger children, elderly men and especially woman who maintained public safety on the beaches. Despite the SLSAA arguing that women were not strong enough to operate the equipment or swim in heavy surf, many continued their voluntary service behind the scenes and were also valuable fundraisers. Unable to acquire a bronze medallion or assist in patrol, in 1946 the woman of Avoca Beach SLSC formed its Ladies Auxiliary and have proven themselves to be the backbone of the clubs success ever since.
After returning from war in 1945, a significant number of ex- diggers joined surf lifesaving clubs, and membership was seen as a community service that provided mateship and support for these ex-servicemen. It was during this period that clubs became very much male-dominated and militaristic in style. Early training sessions and carnivals reflected this, with events such as the march-past and R&R held in high regard by all. In fact, other earlier events such as the pillow fights, chariot races and tug of war were later phased out even though they were spectator favourites and great for club fundraisers.
SURF BOAT HISTORY
PAST EXECUTIVE MEMBERS
BEACH SLSC THROUGH THE DECADES
"an iconic feature
of the Avoca Beach landscape,
a testament to
rich community spirit and pride of the locals since 1929"
BOOKS AND MATERIAL ON AVOCA BEACH SLSC HISTORY