Our History

Southport Surf Life Saving Club The history of our club

Though Southport Surf Life Saving Club was ‘founded’ in 1924, its story extends further into the past. As early as 1913, volunteer lifesavers served at Main Beach. A small group of locals formed the first patrolling squad. Their initiative was largely in response to a 1912 drowning disaster at Main Beach, which took the lives of three young men. This patrolling group served for several years before disbanding. In 1920, another well-intentioned but short-lived life saving club was formed.

By 1924 a substantial bridge connecting Southport to Main Beach was completed – it provided easy beach access to locals and visitors. The guarantee of increased bathers and the lack of lifesavers was an ominous prospect. So, on the night of the 15th December 1924, a group of Southport gentlemen decided to form the Southport Surf Life Saving Club.

  • Within two years the Club could boast a sizeable membership of 20, and its first clubhouse was officially opened on Easter Sunday of 1926. Sadly, the clubhouse came to an untimely end during cyclonic weather in May of 1936.

    Only three days after the cyclone it was resolved to rebuild and relocate the Club further from the dunes. The new building was constructed at its current location by a local contractor for 1,469 pounds, 14 shillings and 6 pence ($2,939.45). The Governor of Queensland, Sir Leslie Wilson, officially opened the new building in January 1937. At the time, it was proudly described as ‘the only self-contained surf club house in Queensland’.

    Shortly after WWII was declared in September 1939, several of the Club’s most active members joined the Second AIF, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian Navy. Over the course 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. 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 – most of whom came 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 large 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 were the primary pick-up areas where, on a Friday afternoon, lines of members wearing blazers would wait to get a lift. Sunday would see these same members waiting on the highway in front of the Club for a lift back to Brisbane. The public would go out of their way to pick them up.

    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 arena of surf sports. By the end of the 1970s, so successful had the club been, it was labelled 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, SSVs, 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 2021 season Southport boasted almost 400 lifesaving members, 400 nippers and 8,000 supporters.

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