The Saga of the Broulee Surfers Surf Life Saving Club

Written by Jack Horne (Honorary Secretary)

Following a public meeting held on November 4, 1979, the Surf Club was formed on November 11 at another public meeting held at the home of Police Sergeant Don Campbell, who became the Clubs’ Foundation President.

Immediate action was taken by the Surf Club to become active and the following day, classes were commenced for the Bronze Medallion.

Meetings were held regarding a Surf Club building and the obvious functional and satisfactory site was considered to be in “The Corner” adjacent to the public car park and the Council’s Amenity Block.

With the realisation that the adjoining Caravan Park Lessee had a Permissive Occupancy as a Caretaker over this area outside his fence, the Surf Club Committee had its President enquire with Mr Clegg regarding his attitude to a Surf Club building in “The Corner”.

As Don Campbell was both the President of the Club and an acquaintance of Mr Clegg, he was thought to be the best person to do this.

In December, the President reported back to the Club’s Committee that he had discussed the desired positioning of a Surf Club Building with Mr Clegg, who had stated that he is 100% behind the Surf Club, but is not prepared to sign his Permissive Occupancy over to the Surf Club for reasons such as noise, bad language etc. and that he is prepared to go to Court over it to protect his interests.

The reaction from the Committee to this solid opposition was to avoid any conflict and by letter dated 22 December 1979, applied to the Council for a site south-east of McNee Street. This location was rejected outright by the Council and the Survey and Project Panel of the State Centre of SLSA of Australia. Both were adamant that a Surf Club Building should go in “The Corner” as this is where the direct access is, where the parking area is and where the people use the beach. It is also where the only boat ramp is in Broulee, and it is also the best protectable and most stable hind dune section of the beach.

The Surf Club Committee was pleased that it would obtain the site that it had originally chosen, and it was also relieved that the Council would handle the matter of Mr Clegg’s Permissive Occupancy, this having been said but Councillor Ken MacKay at the Council’s ‘B’ Riding Committee Meeting on the 18 January 1980 when the Executive of the Surf Club attended this meeting.

The Surf Club then proceeded with confidence, having obtained the Council’s full support, including a vote of $1,000 for this year and allocations of $1,500 for each subsequent year. Funds for the building were then a problem. With the opportunity of up to 50% funding from the Department of Sport and Recreation and the availability within the Club of the volunteer services of a wide range of tradesmen, application was made in March 1980 to both the Council and the Department for a grant of $2,250, towards the cost of building a one storey brick Surf Rescue Building, including a Casualty and Meeting Room attached to the Council’s Amenity Block.

This building of 64m2 was approved by both the Council and the Nowra Land Board Office and the District Surveyor advised later that he had told Mr Clegg that the building was approved to go there.

Knowledge then came to hand of the availability of the State Centre’s Capital Assistance Grant of up to $20,000, as well as realisation that the Department of Sport and Recreation Grant was not to be forthcoming. Accordingly new plans were drawn in conjunction with Council’s design staff, for a larger ground floor with an upper floor, such having a total floor area of 235m2 and representing only a small Surf Club Building.

On September 5, 1980, the Surf Club’s Building Permit and Plans were stamped by the Council, and incorporated the normal condition of approval, together with the following:

“5. Two exits being provided in the Club Room, the minimum aggregate width of each doorway being 1020mm with the doors being hung in two folds made to open outwards and fitted with panic bolts.

6. amended plans incorporated aforementioned alterations being submitted and approved; and

8. Building approval is dependent on approval being obtained from the Lands Department for development.”

The approval delighted the Club and gendered more enthusiasm among its members to obtain more equipment and to seek more donors to raise funds.

Such was short lived as unbeknownst to the Club, an objection dated August 28 1980 by Mr and Mrs Frank Clegg had been written to the Council which opposed outright any Surf Clubhouse in “The Corner”. They are the Crown Lessees of the adjacent Caravan Park.

Also, on August 27 1980, the Nowra Land Board Office had advised the Council of its approval of the extension on to the Amenities Block, stating that approval will not be given to any second storey. It also telephoned the Council and suggested that the proposal for a two storey building be advertised and that any representations be submitted to it when the Council requests reconsideration of the Land Board Office decision.

On September 15 1980, the Council resolved that in view of the advice received from the Land Board Office, a further onsite inspection be made and consideration given to other available sites within the area, and the matter be discussed with both parties with a view to reaching an amicable solution.

On September 26 1980, the Nowra Land Board Office replied to the Club’s letter of September 4  and stated that:

“This land is currently held as Permissive Occupancy 74/16 Moruya by BJ Clegg. Council has already submitted for consideration by this office a proposal by the Club to erect a Surf Rescue Base for the storage of equipment, a meeting place and casualty room. Relevant plans accompanied Council’s request and this office has already approved development in the form with the proviso that approval would not be given to any second storey. Council was informed of this on August 27 1980 and it was assumed that development would proceed in accordance with this approval.

In the circumstances, the Crown Lands Office could not consider an alternative proposal until such time as Council withdraws original proposal. Yours sincerely, KL Newton.”

On October 1, 1980, the Surf Club wrote to the Nowra Land Board Office and forwarded copies of the Council’s letter of the March 3 and the stamped plans and the Council’s Building Permit No.624/80. It was noted that all that is now required is the District Surveyor’s approval so that the Club may commence building immediately. Advice was given that the Club has the full support of the Broulee Progress Association and the local community. It was explained that the stage proposal for a Surf Rescue Centre and Meeting Room was not proceeded with as the 50% funding was not forth coming from the Department of Sport and Recreation and greater funding became available from State Centre for a complete Surf Club Building.

On October 27 1980 the Council received a letter from Mr Clegg who offered $15,000 towards a Surf Club building, provided it is sited beyond McNee St and is accepted by December 26 1980. On October 31 1980 the Council resolved:

“That the Delegated Authorisation of the Broulee Surf Life Saving Club’s Building Application for a Two-Storey Club Building adjoining and above Public Conveniences on the Carparking north of the Broulee Caravan Park (off Heath St) be rescinded.

Further resolved that an area to the South of McNee St, Broulee be investigated by Council with a view to establishing a Surf Life Saving Club in the area and that the Lands Department and Broulee Surg Life Saving Club opinions be canvassed with regard to this proposed site.

Further resolved that an onsite inspection be held at 2:30pm on Saturday 1st November 1980 by ‘B’ Riding Committee.

Further resolved that it be Council’s Policy that under no circumstances any development be permitted on the Permissive Occupancy held by Mr Clegg adjacent to the Caravan Park at Broulee.

Further resolved that if necessary, a Special Council Meeting be convened to determine, and Development Applications submitted by the Broulee Surfers Surf Life Saving Club.”

On November 14, 1980, the administrator of the NSW State Centre of the SLSA wrote to the Council stating that it is shocked to learn that the decision of the Council approval has been reversed and it may now be necessary to withdraw the Broulee Surf Club from this year’s Grant. It stated that members of the NSW Project and Survey Panel visited the area during 1979 and following discussions with the Club and the Council, selected the approved site as the best available from a life saving management point of view. Also, that the site now recommended by the Council is quite some considerable distance from the popular swimming area, and it believes that, in spite of what the Council or the Club may do in providing facilities in another area, the public will swim in the current popular area, due to the prevailing winds that the new site would become a white elephant, and be a constant source of embarrassment to the Council and to the association and it could not recommend to the NSW Government that the Association that its funds would be expended correctly.

It finally stated that it is hoped that common sense will prevail and that the original approved site will be endorsed.

On November 24, 1980, the Council considered this letter and resolved to advise the administrator of the SLSA of NSW of the reasons behind the Council’s decision to approve the Surf Life Saving Club and associated amenities on the site south of McNee St and ask for their comments.

Also on November 24, the Council resolved that the Broulee Surfer’s Surf Club be advised that the Council will favourably consider up-grading of the access road to the new Surf Club site and construction of a public car parking area together with day picnic facilities in the 1981 programme, if the Club project proceeds and further endeavours would be made for the excavation of the Club site and club park to be constructed on a voluntary basis. Also, that power and water extensions to the site would be done at cost to the Club by the relevant authorities and that the proposal of acquiring the boat shed and ramp at Mossy Point be reported on and considered at the next ‘B’ Riding Committee meeting.

In December 1980, The Club conducted Beach Surveys which indicated the following:

  1. About 75% of the beach users in the Broulee area occupy South Broulee Beach
  2. Approximately ¾ of these beach users occupy the northern 150 meters of South Broulee Beach.
  3. The beach users south-east of Massey St to beyond McNees St are negligible.

On December 13 and 14, the Club conducted a local Public Opinion Survey on the location of a Surf Club Building in “The Corner”. Voting was 661 for and seven against. About eight people did not vote.

On December 16 1980, the Surf Club wrote to the Council advising of an upcoming Public Meeting on December 21 and requested that Councillors to attend. Information was given regarding the Beach Surveys and the Public Opinion Survey. The Council was also advised that the Surf Club has conducted an extensive examination of the area south-east of McNee St and has concluded that site is not satisfactory from most aspects, especially from the public protection and patient assistance points of view, the detached physical location, and the unfavourable economical aspect, even taking into consideration the $15,000 offer made through the Council. Accordingly, the Surf Club wishes to proceed with the site in “The Corner” as originally determined by the Council, as this is the most suitable now, as well as in the future, as it will be the most functionable and most central when growth of the area occurs and it is also the most accessible to the water for carrying out sea rescues by the Surf Club’s Sea Rescue Organizations. The Council was requested to make representations to the Lands Department for the care, control and management of the Crown Land containing the Public Car Park, the Public Amenities Block and the adjacent area, as well as to reconsider the Surf Club’s Building Application No. 624/80.

On December 21, 1980, the Broulee Progress Association called a Public Meeting at Broulee Beach to consider where the Surf Club Building should be located. This was attended by over one hundred people, including three Councillors. Only two people voted against the motions which were passed as follows:

“That the Broulee Surfers SLSC be given approval to build a two storey clubhouse as an extension of the amenities building adjacent to the Heath St Car Park without extraordinary restrictions, the design as previously approved.

That Council gives a commitment to rationalise and seal the Car Park and redesign or relocate the access to the park giving safer traffic movement and a walkway for pedestrians. Also, that consultation with Council design staff and Broulee Progress Association be made to arrive at our acceptable solution to future needs of the area.

That the Councillors present at the meeting table this resolution at the full Council Meeting on Monday 22nd December with a view to reach a decision as these facilities are urgently required.”

On December 22, 1980, the council debated the matter once again and resolved as follows:

“That Council adhere to its previous resolution at this point of time, however further consultation be arranged with the executive members of the State Centre of the SLSA on a date to be arranged in January 1981.”



Heath Street, Broulee NSW 2537
PO Box 5005 Broulee 2537

  02 4471 6657 (Summer weekends)
  [email protected]