Northcliffe in Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Australia | Club

Welcome to the Northcliffe Surf Club, Surfers Paradise, Australia.  In 1997 Northcliffe SLSC commissioned local historian Alexander McRobbie to write the history of the Club as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. The following details are extracts from the book "Guardians of the Beach - The History of the Northcliffe Surf Life Saving Club 1947-1997". The name Northcliffe came from an estate developed by Brisbane Real Estate agents Thornton and Pearce in 1917. It was named after an English press baron - Lord Northcliffe, the father of modern journalism, whose London Daily Mail revolutionized the way newspapers were presented. On the 1st February 1947 six young men formally founded the Northcliffe Surf Life Saving Club. They were John Heard, who became the first President; Keith Smythe, who was the first Secretary, and Pat Anderson who was the first Captain.

The other foundation members were Bob McDonald, Colin Bryant and Brian Sockhill. Anderson, McDonald, Smythe and Sockhill were members of the Broadbeach Surf Life Saving Club. There was over a mile of beach between Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach and Keith Smythe and his Broadbeach Clubmates saw a real need for a Club in the area between these two Clubs. Keith took the idea to the Southport Town Council and also the State Surf Life Saving Centre and received their support and permission to set up a beach patrol and the nucleus of a Surf Life Saving Club.

Keith Smythe and Bob McDonald approached the Southport Town Council for assistance in gaining a building for a Clubhouse. Council had an ex-army hut that was standing on the dune line close to the road, not far from Aubrey St which they moved to the Aubrey St site. The hut was quite large. On the end facing the sea there was a balcony that gave a good view across the dunes and out to sea. The hut was partitioned into two sections, one being the sleeping quarters, which had 12 bunks that had wooden slats for bases and weren't very comfortable. The hut was to give good service as a Clubhouse for nearly 10 years. It was 1956 - the end of the Club's first decade - before a two story fibro and timber Clubhouse was built to replace the old army hut.

The Northcliffe Surf Life Saving Club's second 10 years was one of the most exciting periods in Gold Coast history. The decade saw the beginning of the end of the old South Coast when the supremacy of long established towns like Southport and Coolangatta was challenged by the upstart resort area running from Surfers Paradise to Broadbeach. In 1958 and 1959 on the Gold Coast there were two nationally publicized shark attacks, one fatal and one near fatal. On November 23rd 1958 at Surfers Paradise a visitor was mauled about 250 yards offshore. The Surfers Paradise life savers on duty made heroic efforts to save the stricken swimmer who unfortunately died from massive injuries. On November 22nd 1959, almost a year to the day there was another shark attack, this time at Northcliffe. The victim was a new Club member, Geoff Sachse, who was taking part in a Club race. Before help reached him he was bitten on both legs and arms as he tried to fend off the marauding shark. The Club members who went to Geoff's aid were Brian Guilfoyle, Tom Savage, Brian Dawson, Marcus Shaw, Errol Iselin, Neil Iselin, Neville Hyde, Gordon Farmer, Bill Hutchinson, John Braidwood, Llyod Reilly and Fred Duck. Later, all were awarded the SLSA Certificate of Merit with Bronze insert, and the Royal Humane Society' s Certificate of Merit. Geoff Saches survived his injuries, but the experience didn't put him off the surf. Four years later he gained his Bronze with Northcliffe.

In 1958 Northcliffe member Don Mckinney developed a prototype mass rescue ski which supported the reel, line and belt as a valuable rescue tool on patrol. Northcliffe had the first ski and soon afterwards a ski was given to every Club. The Club's second decade saw the beginning of Northcliffe's successes in competition with wins at state level in the surf races, boat races, single and double skis.

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Cnr Garfield Terrace & Thornton Street, Surfers Paradise
Surfers Paradise
Queensland
Australia
(07) 5539 8091
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