History of Waratah Beach SLSC

We Are Our History

Waratah Beach Surf Life Saving Club was founded in January 1963 and at the Annual General Meeting where there was much discussion about calling the Club “Waratah Beach Surf Life Saving Club” and not “Sandy Point Surf Life Saving Club”.  Starting with founding members consisting the first six members of Bronze Squad and humble in beginnings with equipment stored in the shed of the General Store.

In December 1963 a group of young men took up residence in the newly completed Dell family garage, in Park Avenue. These young men were Graeme and Lindsay Dell, Tony Thorburn, Phillip Draper and Gerard Heath.

Within days of spending time on the beach a suggestion was made that this beach required a surf club and, after speaking to some young ladies, it was learnt that some people had tried to establish a club the previous year but it had not gotten off the ground due to lack of support.

The men were also told that the main person in the previous attempt had been Peter Robinson and it was he that they sought out.

Peter was more than enthusiastic but stated he would not become involved and the club would not get off the ground unless his father, Charlie Robinson, was involved.

Charlie initially refused to become involved unless the men could show support which they went out and obtained.

Upon Charlie saying yes, a meeting took place in Cliff Wilson’s old house behind the caravan park which was attended by all those interested and it was decided to call State Centre and ask for help in setting up a club.

Norm Gerraty offered to help in setting out an agenda for a meeting and, eventually, one was called and held in the now demolished hall on 26th of January 1962.

Those attending the meeting from the State Centre were Arnold Goetz and Bruce Bowman and, following a lot of discussion about calling the Club “Waratah Beach Surf Life Saving Club” and not “Sandy Point Surf Life Saving Club”, the club was born, the name agreed to and Mr Ken Haywood was elected President until a formal meeting was to be held later in the year (Ken was elected so as to have a local in charge, who had power in the region and also, hopefully, to gain local backing. It did not happen as wished.)

Peter Robinson immediately set out with Point Leo to get his Bronze so he could train the first squad, which in fact happened. That squad was Charlie Robinson, Graeme Dell, LIndsay Dell, Tony Thorburn and Norm Gerraty.

Following the club’s birth, Point Leo offered to assist in any way possible and lent the club gear as well as sold some seconds over the early years of the club.

Point Leo actually donated a Minute Book to the club the following year and this is held by the History Officer.

To assist the club Norm and Frank Gerraty allowed all the gear that was being obtained to be stored in the front of their shop, which is now the Restaurant/Take Away Business.

It was at the inaugural meeting that the Pilkingtons advised that a Royal Life Saving Club had been formed at Sandy Point in 1934 and the original reel was still around. Shortly after, the reel was given to the new club and Graeme Dell restored it to operational use.

(Note: The reel has since been rebuilt (2012, thanks to financial support by Michael Tyrell and is to be mounted in the ceiling of the club house on this 50th Anniversary).

Peter Robinson went ahead and trained with Point Leo and obtained his bronze in early 1963. He then started training the squad mentioned above and this squad went for their preliminary exam at Point Leo in March 1963.

At this exam nothing went right and, when Tony Thorburn decided to swim 50 yards out then 100 yards to his right, the examiner decided the squad had not had enough training.

From that day onward the squad trained nearly every Sunday morning outside the Kew Council Offices in Cotham Road and, as a punishment, if one man made a mistake he would have to pick up the reel and walk/run it to the bathroom of the gardens and back again. This led the squad being of R & R standard when they again fronted for an exam in December 1963.

At this time all passed except Graeme Dell who eventually gained his Bronze at Cape Patterson in 1964.

While the active side was taking shape the Committee was working towards raising sufficient monies to buy a reel, first-aid kit, binoculars, etc, while Mrs Jean Dell made patrol, shark and signal flags and also patrol caps.

It is in fact that the club, up unitl 1989, had never bought a flag used on the beach, as they had all been made by either Mrs Jean Dell, Mrs Jean Scott and Mrs Annie Dell.

The club’s major priority in its first year was to obtain members, gear and, eventually, somewhere to stay on the beach. This required fund raising and a number of small raffles that were held as well as a Progressive Dinner in early 1965.

The club’s Annual General Meeting was held in august, 1964 and Mr Keane Pilkington was elected as President as the pressure on Ken Heywood’s time had become too great.

The first Club house was built in 1968 which consisted a simple A-frame and the Ladies Auxiliary raised $500.00 towards building the Club house. The Club house was extended twice before plans where made for a new club house.

Significantly, in 1980, WBSLSC was one of the first clubs to allow female surf life savers (beaten narrowly by Woolamai Surf Life Saving Club) and remains committed and at the forefront of female leadership development.

The existing Club house was finished in December 1999 with the official opening featuring a Senior Surf Carnival as part of the launch events. True to form, the surf on the day was the biggest people had seen for many years and many Clubs refused to participate. The event was moved to Waratah Bay.

60 Years of WBSLSC

Put Your Hand Up

Volunteer at Waratah Beach

From cooking sausages at the Nippers BBQ, helping out at the bar, learning surf rescue skills to take to the beach or volunteering in positions of leadership.

If you are keen to make a contribution, there are so many jobs that make us a successful club and we welcome you to put your hand up.

Every hour you can give, every idea, and every contribution you make counts!