Our History

Mooloolaba Surf Lifesaving Club – History Synopsis – The First 75yrs (1922 -1997)


In The Beginning

1922- 1925

The club’s origins can be traced back to November 1922 when it was known as the Mooloolah River Sports Club (MRSC). By 1923 it had transformed into a surf lifesaving-based organisation operating out of a Club Shed erected just a few weeks beforehand. The first squad of members to practice “both river and reel work” comprised founding fathers, W.F. (Uncle Bill) Bell, P.(Percy) Jakeman and V.J (Vince) Crosby.


Developing Years

1925- 1939

As the scenic river mouth and surrounding beach areas started to attract growing crowds, the club used to organise frequent lifesaving and athletic displays and associated sporting competitions for the public to watch. By March, 1930 there were 70 members registered, including 11 women, with club icons Arthur Parkyn and Frank Venning among the first official group of bronze holders. The club’s first surf boat The Spray was also launched in 1930.

Towards the end of this period the club started work on construction of a new surf lifesaving clubhouse which was officially opened in March, 1939 allowing many of the club members who came from nearby farms to stay and “grub” at the club over the weekend. It also opened the way for an increasing number of Brisbane members to join.


Those Fateful Years

1939- 1945

With the advent of WW11, club membership was inevitably impacted, with some 13 members enlisting in the defence forces. At this time Mooloolaba Beach was part of the country’s frontline resulting in major changes such as total coastal blackouts and coiled barbed wire enclosures along the beachfront. Amid this upheaval the club did attract and train a number of visiting Allied servicemen from staging camps on the coast, many of whom gained their bronze medallions.


The Beginning of a Golden Era

1945- 1960

Membership grew significantly in the post-war era with an influx of Brisbane-based members for whom travelling to the coast on weekends proved a logistical but enjoyable challenge in an era when few people owned cars.

This period is remembered as one in which our small, comparatively unknown surf lifesaving club came into its own and rose to become the champion club of Australia culminating in the winning of national R&R premier club titles in the mid-fifties. The club also successfully hosted the 1959 national titles. The club was also instrumental in providing legendary state and national level administrators including Arthur Parkyn, Bill Daley, Jack Dearlove, Boppo Tallon, AND Jack McCarthur.


In Search of Glory

1960- 1980

This was an era of considerable demographic and social change as vast canal, estate and apartment developments sprang up in what was once a sleepy beachside settlement. This resulted in significant growth in demand for lifesaving services. It was also the start of a burgeoning local membership base.

In the competitive arena, this was a golden era for the club with a cohort of strong swimmers who won a raft of state and national titles for Mooloolaba including back-to-back national surf team titles in 1972/3 and 1973/4.

The club’s future was also secured through the introduction of a Nippers program in 1968 introducing new generations of potential members.

This era was however marked by considerable upheaval following a fire that destroyed most of the southern section of the clubhouse in 1979, resulting in demolition and significant financial hardship for the club.

Another noteworthy event was the introduction of the first motorised rescue boats with the now-superseded jet boats.


Decisive Years

1980- 1997

After the fire, club membership plummeted leaving it to a core group of a couple of dozen members to keep lifesaving operations going from makeshift accommodation. This group had to do all the fundraising duties yet still managed to keep up the club spirit during very difficult times. Their efforts were finally rewarded with opening of the new clubhouse in December 1981.

A decade later major renovations to the building provided a new front entrance and much improved dining bar and poker machine facilities and the establishment of The MLSC Supporters Club Inc in the same year.

Another historical first for Mooloolaba during this period was the election of Australia’s first female surf lifesaving club captain, Cathy Harding.

The mid-1990s witnessed another golden era in competition with a number of gold medals at state and national titles across all disciplines.

(Explanatory Note – This historical snapshot has been collated from the club’s first 75 years history as told in “Our Club Our Story”. This history is currently being reviewed and updated to produce the Club’s 100 year history in time for the 100 year anniversary celebrations in 2022. This page will be expanded and updated as the project proceeds.


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