Southport Surf Life Saving Club | About Us
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About Us

Southport Surf Life Saving Club
Our club’s story

Long before ‘Nerang Creek Heads’ was first surveyed as a township site in 1874, locals and visitors had remarked upon its potential as a ‘watering place’. Fishing and shooting the prolific local wildlife were the principal attractions, but the very naming of the new town as ‘Southport’ before its second Crown Lands auction sale in April 1875 pointed to its future as a seaside resort. Southport was named after a booming Lancashire seaside town of the same name, which faces a mostly bleak Irish Sea some eighteen miles north of Liverpool.

On the night of the 15th December 1924, a group of Southport gentlemen decided to form the Southport Surf Life Saving Club and proceeded with the erection of a life saving building. This came 12 years after three lives were lost when caught in a dangerous undertow at Main Beach. Headlines such as ‘Tragedy of the Surf’ and repeated references that the only life line available consisted of 2 pieces of rope found on a boat anchored in the Broadwater, filtered through.

By 1926 the club could boast a sizeable membership of 20, and its first clubhouse was officially opened on Easter Sunday of that year. Sadly the clubhouse came to an untimely end during cyclonic weather in May of 1936.

Only three days later a Town Council meeting resolved to not replace the building on the dunes, but relocate it fronting Main Beach boulevard, the current site. The tender of a local contractor was accepted for 1,469 pounds 14 shillings and 6 pence ($2,939.45) The new building described as ‘the only self-contained surf club house in Queensland’ was officially opened by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Leslie Wilson, on Sunday 24 January 1937.

The declaration of war in September 1939 was only a few months old when the club lost several of its most active members to the ranks of the Second A.I.F. the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy. During the duration of the war, many more members enlisted. By September 1942 there was serious talk of winding up the Club for the interim, and appointing trustees to control the Club’s assets. At this time over 90% of the Club’s active members were in the fighting forces, and others were awaiting call-up.

At the conclusion of the war, ex-service members returned to find things had changed in many ways. The Club had survived the war through the voluntary efforts of many young men mostly from Brisbane. Sixteen and seventeen year old members had been the mainstay of the Club for at least three seasons and had enjoyed exercising the responsibility.

For the next two decades, a big percentage of the members came from Brisbane. The train was the most common form of transport and when it ceased to operate, the great tradition of hitching a lift started. Mount Gravatt or Holland Park in Brisbane was the big pick-up area with a line of guys on Friday afternoon, with their blazers on, getting lifts. Sunday would see these guys back on the highway in front of the club going home. The public would go out of their way to pick them up. This was a big tradition.

In 1967 the nipper movement was formed as a feeder system for the senior club and over many seasons has produced leading club office bearers, beach officials, supporters, patrol members and competitors.

Southport has enjoyed a long and successful history in the area of surf sports. By the end of the 1970s, so successful had the club been, it was labeled by other competitors as the ‘Fried Eggs’ referring to the smattering of yellow in the middle of the Club’s blue surf caps which coined the victory cry of ‘Egg power’.

The Club has produced and enjoyed the performance of many individual champions far too numerous to mention separately; however the record of 17 Queensland, 6 Australian and the 1983 World Club championships speaks highly of their combined performances.

How times have changed since 1924. Gear costs and rescue techniques have made huge differences. From the reel-line-belt costing $400, to the present equipment of IRBs, rescue boards and tubes, radios, 4 wheel drive vehicles, ATVs, and state of the art resuscitation equipment the cost is in excess of $100,000 a year.

In over 90 years of existence, membership has grown with the development of the nipper movement, the building of supporter’s facilities and the vast changes in patrols and competition. In the 2005 season Southport boasted almost 700 lifesaving members, 300 nippers and 5,000 supporters, a massive 6,000 members in total.

All in all, since 1924 membership has grown from 20 to over 6,000, the club has become a World Champion in competition, kept our beach fatality free within the red and yellow patrolled area and become a great member of the community.
Yes, we are making history every day.
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