On New Year’s Day 1928 a meeting was held to discuss the formation of a surf club at Old Bar. A week earlier on Boxing Day there had been almost 4000 beachgoers and concerns were raised about protecting the increasing number of visitors. The idea was eagerly adopted and the Taree-Old Bar Surf Life Saving Club was formed.1 Within three months voluntary workers had erected a clubhouse, shark watch tower and bathing flags.2
The club’s first surfboat bought in 1929 was called ‘Kingfish’. Its maiden outing was not in the surf but the Manning River where it was used to rescue residents caught in the devastating Taree flood.3 The second boat ‘Kingfish II’ was used in the daring 1937 night rescue of a stranded crew member from the SS Urana wrecked off Old Bar beach.4
Under the guidance of Vic Rushby, instructor and captain, the club attained 40 bronze medallions and five instructor certificates within the first three years. Rushby was known as the father of the club and was made a life member in 1938 being instrumental in the establishment of both the men’s and ladies’ clubs.5
The club has always relied on fundraising events such as dances and the hiring of ‘surf-o-planes’ to support the purchasing of equipment, etc.6 In later years the ‘Red Knicker Inn’ served smorgasbord dinners during the Christmas holidays raising thousands of dollars over 30 years.7
In 1978 a new two-story brick clubhouse was erected, sponsored by the Federal Government’s Regional Employment Development (RED) scheme.8 After 90 years this club, through the support of generous donors and volunteers, continues to serve the community and save lives.
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 11 January 1928, 2; Northern Champion, 4 April 1928, 3.
2 Northern Champion, 28 March 1928, 3.
3 SMH, 12 February 1929, 11.
4 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 21 September 1935, 7; MidCoast Stories ‘The Wrecking of the Urana’, https://midcoaststories.com/2018/08/the-wrecking-of-the-urana/
5 Northern Champion, 14 September 1938, 4.
6 Northern Champion, 14 September 1938, 4.
7 Written notes from John and Margaret Pryor to Mel Rosamond, 2019.
8 Written notes from John and Margaret Pryor to Mel Rosamond, 2019; Whitlam’s RED Scheme, http://whitlam.org/whitlam-legacy-economy-and-employment.