In September 1930, a proposal to form a Ladies’ Surf Bathing Club at Old Bar in conjunction with the Old Bar Surf Club was eagerly adopted and five weeks later the club house was complete.1 It was a comfortable structure with verandahs, shower and toilet room and was situated on a high mound overlooking the sea, just south of the Men’s Club house.2 Mrs Lavers was the first Ladies’ Club President. Club membership exceeded all expectations and within the first year 100 women had joined.3 So popular was the Ladies’ Club that in 1936 a new clubhouse was constructed.4
The Surf Life Saving Association did not recognise women in the movement until 1980. Before that time women were banned from qualifying for the surf bronze medallion and subsequent beach patrols because it was believed they were not strong enough to operate the equipment.5 This ban however did not stop the women of Old Bar participating in rescue and resuscitation work. The Men’s Club was always extremely supportive and their Captain, Vic Rushby, was instrumental in establishing resuscitation classes for women.6 Women proficient in life-saving were awarded qualifying certificates and the highest achiever was given the ‘Maloney Cup’ donated by the club’s patroness Mrs A A Maloney.7 The Old Bar Ladies’ Surf Club is now recognised as a pioneer in resuscitation exams for women.8
Author: Janine Roberts
Sponsored by the Old Bar Manning Point Business & Community Association through a Royal Australian Historical Society NSW Cultural Grant.
1 Northern Champion, 13 September 1930.
2 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 15 October 1930.
3 Northern Champion, 26 September 1931.
4 Northern Champion, 9 October 1937.
5 National Museum Australia http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/between_the_flags/the_birth_of_surf_lifesaving.
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 8 October 1932.
7 Northern Champion, 3 October 1936.
8 Northern Champion, 2 April 1953.
9 Northern Champion, 5 November 1930, 2. Photo taken at 90th celebrations of Taree Old Bar Surf Club in 2018.