A Club Steeped in Tradition

The Establishment of Surf Life Saving

Pristine beaches edge Australia’s Coastline and define the very essence of modern day Australian Culture. But the sparkling oceans and white sandy beaches haven’t always been so inviting. Prior to 1902, swimming during daylight hours was prohibited by law. It was immoral for men and women to be seen bathing in the ocean so they could only enter the water at early morning or dusk and never at the same time.

Mooloolaba Beach Circa 1945 and the same photo taken in 2013

From the moment William Gocher defied the law and ran into the ocean at Manly Beach in broad daylight, momentum grew for the new sport of ‘surf bathing’. In the last 80 years since Surf Life Saving Australia has been keeping records over 500,000 people have been rescued from the surf. Another 10,000 are estimated to be rescued each season.

 Surf Life Saving Comes to Mooloolaba

Mr Frank Venning, a founding member of Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving ClubIn 1919, a group of local men and women were looking for a way to become involved in their community and so began the Mooloolah River Sports Club. Based out of an old sugar shed on the banks of the river, the club held regular competitions for diving, swimming and boat races. As the landscape of the Sunshine Coast began to change, it became apparent that the river mouth and the beach would need to be patrolled.

In 1922, Royal Lifesaving Society Secretary Mr Frank Venning met with the Mooloolah River Sports Club and suggested they become a lifesaving club. Mr Venning encouraged all members to undertake surf lifesaving training, so the members could competently perform surf rescues.

Club HouseIn 1923 the sports club changed its name to the Mooloolaba Life Saving Club and it was decided that the old sugar shed would be demolished and the timber would be used to build a new club house. The original club house was located about 80 metres from where it stands today. It was approximately six metres long and four metres wide and made from wood with a galvanised iron roof (pictured)

With Mooloolaba becoming a popular tourist area, a quick dip in the river or the ocean became a regular tradition. The Mooloolaba Surf Lifesaving Club soon outgrew its original club house and a new club house was erected in its current position in 1939. The growth of the Mooloolaba Surf Lifesaving Club continued year after year and extensions were added to the club house in 1954 and then again in 1968.

Club House 2In 1979, a fire destroyed the top floor of the building. When time came to rebuild, the members of the club voted to create a sophisticated venue that would take advantage of the position but always retain the essence of what has endearingly become known as ‘Australian beach culture’, relaxed, informal and fun. This work included incorporating modern surf lifesaving facilities and the establishment of a bar as an additional source of revenue.

In 2012, an extensive refurbishment began on The Surf Club Mooloolaba which cemented the venue as a world class facility.   

Surf Life Saving Competitions and Titles

R&R Competition from 1950 at the Surf Club Mooloolaba  From the very start, Mooloolaba Surf Club has shown great ability in surf rescue competition and today it has one of the strongest competitive teams in Australia. Mooloolaba Surf Club secured its first Australian Title in 1954, after beating a strong field to take out the open R&R, which is regarded as the premier event in Australian surf lifesaving. The club continued to dominate surf races in the 1970s, by winning every Australian Open Surf Teams Title between 1972 and 1975. The Club also won three junior Surf Teams Titles during this period.

Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Club Boat Race 1950Competitively, the club’s most notable achievement was at the Australian Titles in 1972, when the seniors and juniors both won first, second, third and fourth in a single event. This remarkable achievement created a place in the history books which has never been repeated and is one of the club’s proudest accomplishments.

Currently, the club’s competition team consists of approximately 150 members, who continue to dominate each year in the Oceans 38 Series and The Kelloggs Ironman Series and consistently win State and Australian Titles in many events.

Our History Book

A full and extensive history of Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Club was written by Robert Longhurst and published in a book in 1997.