Vic Rushby had a secret. During the week he was the ‘mild-mannered’ manager of Rushby Shoes, while on the weekend he unleashed his superhero powers on Old Bar.1 Rushby was a great sportsperson and was instrumental in the creation of both the men’s and ladies’ Old Bar Surf Lifesaving Clubs; as Club Captain he led the daring rescue of a crew member on a sinking ship, and helped save dozens of people stranded during the 1929 floods.2 He devoted most weekends to making Old Bar a safer and better place.
In 1941 a recreation hall was built on the Old Bar Reserve. The hall provided a venue for dances and functions to raise much needed funds for the Reserve’s Trustees to continue the progress of Old Bar. When the hall opened on 6 December 1941 it was named ‘Rushby Casino’. On the night of the opening 500 people danced to the Merrymakers’ Orchestra and enjoyed the festive atmosphere created by lamps lit around the grounds.3 Just for a moment the community could forget the horrors of WWII. The following day would bring the shocking news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.4
Throughout the 1940s ‘monster dances’ were held in the hall after surf carnivals.5 It was also the site where electricity was turned on in Old Bar for the first time in 1951.6 In 1971, after 30 years of activity the hall license was not renewed. The trusteeship of the reserve including Rushby’s Casino was taken over by the Manning Shire Council and the area was developed into a caravan park with the hall becoming a TV room and indoor sports area.7
In 2020 the hall is still part of the caravan park.
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Northern Champion, 2 October 1953, 2.
2 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 4 September 1926, 10; MidCoast Stories: https://midcoaststories.com/2020/05/old-bar-surf-life-saving-club/; https://midcoaststories.com/2019/03/ladies-old-bar-surf-club/;https://midcoaststories.com/2018/08/the-wrecking-of-the-urana/; https://midcoaststories.com/2018/07/black-head-surf-club-or-is-it-river-club/
3 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 6 December 1941, 4.
4 Newcastle Sun, 8 December 1941, 1.
5 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 30 November 1946, 2.
6 Northern Champion, 2 November 1951, 4.
7 NSW State Archives, NRS-15318-1-[10/53102]-T1714, Recreation Hall, Old Bar, 23 September 1970 & 27 October 1971.