31 January 2024

Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club says farewell to its 50-year-old clubhouse

| Zoe Cartwright
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A render of the northeast aspect of the new Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club, which should be in use for the 2024/25 season. Photo: Bluestone Building Group.

Gerringong Surf Life Saving Club will be demolished this week to make way for a brand-new facility.

Volunteers have provided lifesaving services to the community from the 50-year-old clubhouse since the 1970s, and it’s fallen well behind the times.

Thanks to grants from federal and state governments, the club can look forward to operating from a new facility in the 2024/25 season.

Bluestone Building Group is responsible for the project, and director Michael Emmett said it had taken persistence and patience to get to this stage.

“The design and approvals process has taken about three years, so it’s exciting to be ready to build,” he said.

“The current building is in pretty poor condition; it’s very dilapidated and it’s great the club got the money to do a major upgrade, rather than another band-aid solution.

“The club provides a vital service for the community and now they will have a facility that allows them to patrol and bring through juniors.”

READ ALSO Kiama Lions’ concert clean-up supports local surf club’s campaign to repair roof

Gerringong SLSC is a thriving club, with one of the largest Nippers memberships in the Illawarra.

This past weekend volunteers rescued five teens who became caught in a rip at Werri Beach, and helped more than 20 swimmers who were in distress.

Training up young nippers to perform these rescues takes time and equipment.

The new club will have a dedicated space downstairs to store boats, boards, surf skis, and a gym for members, Mr Emmett said.

The ground floor will also include a patrol room, first aid room, club amenities, public amenities, and a kiosk.

Upstairs will be a veranda, training rooms, a member’s bar, kitchen, amenities and open plan space, so yoga and other community activities that are run in the existing clubhouse can continue.

CEO of Surf Life Saving NSW Steven Pearce said the clubhouse’s role as a community space was an important consideration in the rebuild.

READ ALSO Manyana inspiration: Surf rescue stations planned for Lake Conjola following drowning

“It’s a community hub, and we want to make sure it is accessible for the whole community,” he said.

“That’s dedicated changing rooms for all genders, easy access for people with disabilities, as well as being fit-for-purpose and rescue ready.

“A lot of volunteer organisations struggle to have appropriate facilities, and we were really fortunate to secure funding for this upgrade.

“We’re one of 129 surf clubs in NSW, and we’re an emergency service just like the fire brigade, police or ambulance, so we do need fit-for-purpose facilities.”

Mr Pearce said the new club was designed to blend in with the local landscape, and he looked forward to the opening later this year.

The Australian Government contributed $5m to the upgrade, and the NSW Government $490,000 through their Surf Club Facility program.

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