History of the Woronora Life Saving & River Patrol Club
The Woronora Life Saving Club would like to respectfully acknowledge the Dharawal people who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we stand.
Back in 1939 Woronora was a very popular picnic and recreational area. During the summer months large crowds would leave the train at Sutherland and walk to Woronora River via the walking track past the cemetery. The Woronora River was very popular with swimmers. Prince Edward Park had one small and three large weather sheds, toilet/shower facilities and a jetty.
Formation of the Woronora Life Saving & River Patrol Club
During 1939 the Woronora Life Saving & River Patrol Club was established to assist where possible those swimmers in need and to make the area safer for swimmers. Royal Life Saving Society water rescue and resuscitation training was held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in the park, while competition races for members were on Sunday afternoons.
On 14th April, 1940 the following members were the first to gain their Bronze Medallion; Wesley Fowler, Harry English, Jim Stansel, Bert Williams, Bob Rasmusen, Ken Bellingham, Bill Colquhoun, Hazel Bert and Valerie Bert.
At the weekends during the swimming season club members were rostered for patrol at Prince Edward Park and Prices Avenue Reserve.
Construction of the Woronora Life Saving Hall
In the early forties the Woronora Progress Association Finance Committee assisted in the raising of finance for a Life Saving Club Hall to be built at Prince Edward Park, Woronora. Regular Saturday night dances which were very popular and well attended were held at ‘Ogden’s Hall’, a large shed at the rear of Ogden’s house Prices Avenue, Woronora. Local musicians gave their services free of charge and raffles were held during the evening to help raise funds.
An old brick dressing shed which stood north of the wooden Woronora traffic bridge (Burnum Burnum Sanctuary) was demolished with Sutherland Councils consent and the bricks were transported to Prince Edward Park. Here the bricks were scraped and cleaned by club members and their families and with the help of local residents the construction of the Woronora Life Saving Hall began.
The club house was officially opened in 1942. Saturday night dances continued in the new club house and money raised being used to construct the veranda which was completed in 1944. A concrete slab with seating on both sides and a detachable diving board was also constructed in front of the club house. Eventually the concrete slab subsided and was removed by Sutherland Council.
Club Activities from 1939-1960
During World War 11 many social fund raising functions were held in the club house with the proceeds going to the ‘War Comfort Fund’ and later Sutherland Hospital. Open air concerts were held in the park with the stage at the rear of the club house, River regattas with prises for the best decorated float, Queen of the river competitions, diving competitions and marathon runs were organised.
In the early forties and fifties competition carnivals in the art of life saving methods, march past, R&R (rescue and resuscitation, rescue race, clothing swim, distance swim, beach sprint and beach flags were held. Some of the participating Life Saving Clubs affiliated with the Royal Life Saving Society were Manly, Bondi, Bronte, Clovelly, Coogee, Malabar, Nielsen Park, Brighton, Ramsgate, Carss Park, Eat Hills and of course Woronora.
During the long history of these carnivals, the Woronora Club members notched up many fine victories as the pennants decorating the club house walls will testify.
Club Activities from 1961-1979
The fine tradition of well-trained members in the method of life saving continued through-out the years. The Woronora Life Saving Club consisted of Royal Life Saving training, Sunday sporting events and Club Carnivals. The regular Sunday afternoon events were popular with both parents and children.
The Royal Life Saving Society Club Carnivals many held in open water were attended by club members. The clubs March past teams, R&R teams and individual competitors were very successful at these carnivals. The pennants from these carnivals continued to decorate the club house walls.
Club Activities from 1980………..
Sunday afternoon pointscore races have been an enjoyable time for everyone; events include sprint swim, medley swim, beach sprint, beach flags and ironman races. Many members throughout the seasons obtained their Royal Life Saving Awards, gaining the skills required for safe swimming, rescue methods and resuscitation. The Woronora Club members continued to perform at Royal Life Saving Interclub Carnivals. Carnivals were held at Ramsgate, Brighton, Auburn Pool, The Hills Pool, Engadine Pool and Enfield Pool.
Bridge to Bridge Day
From 1971-1999 Woronora Life Saving & River Patrol Club hosted an annual Bridge to Bridge Day. The highlights of the day were the Bridge to Bridge swim, Round the River Run, Resuscitation Competition, Canoe Race, Pillow fight and King and Queen of the Mountain. Our members always enjoyed the challenging events against other clubs.
Refurbishment of Woronora Life Saving & River Patrol Clubhouse
During winter of 1994, the long awaited refurbishment of the Woronora Life Saving Clubhouse took place. Most floods will now lap around the hall leaving the inside dry. On the 23rd of October, 1994 the club held ‘Back to Woronora Day’ to celebrate 100 years of the Royal Life Saving Society in Australia with the Woronora Club running for well over 70 years as a Life Saving Club affiliated with R.L.L.S. On that day the refurbished Clubhouse was officially opened jointly by the Federal Member for Hughes Robert Tickner and Sutherland Shire Councillor Don Carter.
“It must be said that this unique club with its proud history of service to the community owes its continuous existence to many dedicated people who have given so much of their time and energy in order that this club shall continue to be enjoyed by all those who are presently engaged in its activities. And to the oldies who still cherish the fond memories of their time spent at the Woronora Life Saving Clubwe say, ‘Thank you for a job well done!’ ” By Norm Dixon