Some of the surf club’s foundation members including long-standing secretary Joe McRae, wearing a tie.
Some of the surf club’s foundation members including long-standing secretary Joe McRae, wearing a tie.

Lifesaving club past use-by date

TOMORROW marks 40 years since the official opening of the Evans Head – Casino surf lifesaving clubhouse.

Life member Lou Crethar was there, in fact he helped build the imposing structure, while working for Casino business WJ Green and Sons.

The opening was a ceremonial affair, he recalled yesterday, with Woodburn Shire Council president, Charlie Yabsley handing keys to the front door to then club president Jack Goodsir, with branch and state officials, and their wives, clapping from the sidelines.

The building is the third in the club’s long history, which was founded in 1922 immediately after the drowning of 16-year-old Gladys Morrow. Jim Paddon, son of the town’s first white settler, was declared president and Joe McRae secretary, a position he held until 1947.

The first clubhouse was built in 1927 and the second in 1936.

When the third building was officially opened in 1969, the surf lifesaving movement was at its peak, with eager volunteers patrolling beaches wearing nothing but swim shorts, and saving bathers with little more than a leather belt and a long length of line.

Members of the club paid for their new building in full, borrowing the money off the local council and paying it back in due course. But the building, sitting on Crown Land, remains the property of the public, with council and the State holding the keys to its future.

Forty years is a long time for a brick and concrete building, sitting by the sea.

Ballina’s clubhouse was demolished several years ago, and it was also built in the late 1960s.

Rather than toast to the building’s long future, Mr Crethar said it was time to look to a new and different opportunity.

“This building has seen its time,” he declared.

“The concept of surf lifesaving has changed. The building was built to accommodate a few rescue reels and a boat, whereas now there are several boats, ducks, and a patrol trailer. The clubhouse was designed for methods of rescue 40 years ago. But there is a need to cater today for modern equipment.”

Mr Crethar said it was good that the current council had agreed to a 10-year plan to refurbish the clubhouse.

“But it’s really putting bits and pieces on something that doesn’t comply with modern requirements,” he said.

“Today’s surf clubs are not just about lifesaving. They are about becoming a community centre, a place to hold public meetings, to cater for recreation purposes, to provide fitness centres and even information centres,” he said.

“Surf clubs are no longer just a place to store a boat and a reel.”

Club members young and old, past and present, are expected to toast the occasion tonight at the club’s ‘Sand Bar’.



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