New Blue Plaque looks over Bondi's big blue

A Blue Plaque will be unveiled on the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club, to recognise the contribution of the world's oldest surf lifesaving club to the rich history of New South Wales.

Minister for Heritage Penny Sharpe, Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club Blue Plaque

The Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club is one of 14 new Blue Plaque recipients announced by the NSW Government. Blue Plaques keep our heritage alive by honouring and celebrating significant people, places and events in New South Wales.

The Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club existed informally for several years in the early 1900s, before a group of locals gathered at the Royal Hotel in Bondi one evening in February 1907 to discuss forming an official surf lifesaving organisation.

Within weeks the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club was born, with the central aim of rescuing distressed 'sea bathers'. Members performed 34 rescues in their first year of operation, inspiring the creation of many similar surf lifesaving clubs at beaches across Australia.

It remains in operation to this day, with volunteer lifesavers patrolling the golden sands and rescuing more than 12,000 swimmers and surfers every year.

Beyond the sand, the bathers and the rescue reel, the club's foundation established a long-standing tradition of service to others.

The spirit of the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club was on display one scorching hot day in 1938, when thousands of people flocked to Bondi Beach to cool off. Large waves crashed into the shore, wiping away the sandbank and washing hundreds of people into deeper water.

Club records say 180 people were rescued by volunteers in a chaotic 20 minutes. Dozens of people were resuscitated on the sand but sadly five people could not be saved, on what became known as Bondi's Black Sunday.

Instead of recognising individual volunteers for their efforts, the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia recommended the entire club for a special meritorious award.

Today, hundreds of past and present lifesavers and young nippers will join the Minister for Heritage Penny Sharpe and Mayor of Waverley Council Paula Masselos at the clubhouse for the official unveiling of the Blue Plaque on the pillar of the iconic building, which was built in 1934.

Information about Blue Plaque recipients is available here: Blue Plaques NSW

Quote attributable to Minister for Heritage Penny Sharpe:

"The Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club is testament to the skill, dedication and service of many men, women and teenagers who keep swimmers safe at our beaches.

"The club's founding members created a movement that contributed to the state's rich history, and continues to be at the core of our coastal identity today.

"This Blue Plaque provides a tangible link to those who've kept our community safe in the water for 117 years, and for that we will always remember and respect their service."


Quote attributable to Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club President Brent Jackson:

"The club is honoured to have this Blue Plaque displayed on the pillar of our clubhouse, recognising the birthplace of surf lifesaving.

"While this volunteer movement started with just one small group of concerned beachgoers in Bondi, it has grown to over 300 clubs in Australia, and inspired similar organisations all around the world."


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