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HomeLifestyleSportQueenscliff SLSC celebrate a century

Queenscliff SLSC celebrate a century

Today, 15 January 2024, marks 100 years of Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club!

To commemorate it, a new book, Queenscliff SLSC, 100 Years: A Century of Vigilance and Service, detailing the history of Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club, has been published.

The 400 page encyclopaedia, which features over 1,000 photos and 85,000 words, was launched last month in the newly revamped Queenscliff SLSC Pavilion. The historic occasion welcomed a large gathering of former and present club members, sponsors and representatives of Northern Beaches Council, including Mayor Sue Heins.

Manly Observer spoke to the book’s editor Brian Dolly – who spent several years compiling the fascinating archive – and Club President Garry Fox.

“I wanted the theme of the book to be ‘What’s a typical day at Queenscliff Surf Club?’,” Brian explained. “It’s not just the patrol people; it’s not just the life savers carrying a surf boat; it’s everything – people serving behind the bar, renovating, etc. And divided into decades.”

Ten decades! When was Queenscliff SLSC actually founded?

“The actual birth of our club was in 1924, the 15th of January,” Garry revealed. “They called a public meeting at the Wharton Tea Rooms, corner of Pine Street and North Steyne (it’s not there anymore), down the road from the Queenscliff pavilion.

“The club started its humble beginnings way back then with 35 members – 18 patrolling members. We’ve now got 1416 members, over 360 of them patrolling. So it’s dramatically changed and grown, similar to the pavilion building, although our first clubhouse was originally further up the beach on the northern end…”

The original Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club, Queenscliff Beach, c 1925. Photo: Queenscliff SLSC

The first Queenscliff SLSC clubhouse was opened by Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton on 4 October 1924. It was established at the northern end of Manly’s North Steyne, in a building adjacent to the ocean pool and north of the tidal channel inlet to Manly Lagoon (on the site now used by the shower and toilet facilities).

The second clubhouse, the premises in use today (opened 1 April 1939 on the southern side of the tidal channel), was designed by Lindsay Scott, a prominent Sydney architect and president of the Manly Chamber of Commerce and captain of Freshwater SLSC 1924-26.

He was promoted to Honorary Architect of the Surf Life Saving Association and during his tenure he designed the SLSC pavilions on Freshwater Beach (1935), South Curl Curl and Palm Beach (both 1937), and Queenscliff (1938).

People power

Garry continued, “One of the important things for us is the people. There’s been an incredible number of volunteers who have provided countless hours on the beach – which is a key thing for us – making the club a family club. We’ve got people who come in and work hard throughout their whole career.

“The centenary book, which was authored and edited by Brian Dolly, has been painstakingly built over the last four years.”

Four years, that’s a lot of work! When Queenscliff SLSC reached their 96th anniversary, did they realise a centenary book would be a major undertaking and so began the task of collating the material?

“No one lit the fire, it just started,” Brian revealed. “I don’t know how it happened, we didn’t think ‘four years to go, better start preparing a book!’

“It began from a scanning project. Chipper, one of the older guys, was scanning all the photos on the wall, because we were doing renovations and wanted to preserve them. I was talking to him one day, next minute, we’re scanning annual reports, and somehow that led into writing a book…

“We are blessed that we have all 100 annual reports in great condition. We have boxes and boxes of documents, which have survived three clubhouses and vigorous annual cleanouts…”

Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club, North Steyne, Manly. Photo: Alec Smart

How many photos did Brian view before he narrowed it down to the final edit?

“There are 1000 photos in the book. To get to that 1000, I went through 30,000 images! I boiled the book down to 10 parts showing different aspects of the club, and then each section head chose the ones that best represented their sections.

“Garry is one of the big names in life saving so he chose the images for that section. We have a lot of Australian gold medal boat rowers, so they chose that group of photos. I know about the running section, so I chose those.

“Even though I facilitated the process, the club picked their own narrative…”

A century of saving lives

“It’s amazing to think that for 100 years we’ve been patrolling the beach diligently,” Garry considered. “Queenscliff SLSC has trained over 3400 members to get their bronze medallion. That’s an incredible number of people who have gone through to beyond surf patrol, many of them through our Nippers programme. We have recently renovated our facilities and it’s through our own funding efforts and the generosity of many sponsors that the club has been able to prosper.”

“One of the take-aways,” Brian continued, “is that the surf out there is brutal! There has been a shark attack, a drowning and other tragedies. But if it wasn’t for this surf club, there would be a lot more. There’s people walking around now that wouldn’t be alive if not for the surf life savers.

“Queenscliff Surf Club, as a community group, has provided hundreds of thousands of hours of community service over the past century.

“Then there’s other parts of the club – like surf sports and the Nippers. There are athletes and coaches who have achieved phenomenal goals in this club, with a load of members who have come first in Australia in their respective sports.

“Surf sports is a strong glue. There are many different aspects to our community but it’s like a Venn diagram: they all come together around our surf club, and that’s why they work so well.”

Cover of “Queenscliff SLSC, 100 Years: A Century of Vigilance and Service” book.

Will the centenary book be available for the general public?

“Yes, it is available to purchase,” Brian affirmed. “We paid for an ISBN number so there will be copies in the national, state and Manly Libraries – Manly Library was one of my resources for the book! But we prefer if people order the books, because then they get to keep them! We printed a couple of hundred editions.”

Order online: Queenscliff SLSC, 100 Years: A Century of Vigilance and Service


Queenscliff SLSC: https://www.queensie.com/



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