Standing test of time: Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest Surf Life Saving Club

First Bronze Medallion awarded to a Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest lifesaver, presented to Jack Ringland on 24 April 1932.

BENNETTS Beach has been the inspiration for more than one incarnation of a Surf Life Saving Club, and rightly so as it is arguably the most beautiful beach in the world.

Previous reports in the News Of The Area have led to more information coming to light regarding the club and its origins, rising from the ashes after war and economic depression, and everything else the last two centuries have thrown at it so far.

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Empirical proof has been presented to the NOTA of a Bronze Medallion, awarded to Jack A Ringland on 24 April 1932, also mentioning two more successful candidates as R Franklin and C Delore.

This evidence was provided by Jack Ringland’s granddaughter, Michelle Larkin, who continues the family tradition, remaining an active patrolling member of Hunter SLSA (joined 2001) and a proficient Bronze and Inflatable Rubber Boat crew award holder.

There now exists more than one historical account of the Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest Surf Life Saving Club, the first being Ian Dunlop’s meticulously-researched account, which chronicles the details from the very beginning, as well as that of Mr Roy Grogan, which focuses on the club from the 1960s onwards.

According to Mr Dunlop’s research, the ‘Tea Gardens Surf Club’, as it was known in the 1930s, was largely an affair of public enthusiasm and necessity, with buildings, watchtowers and other basic amenities built by the small local community at the time.

Understandably, the Great Depression took funding elsewhere, then World War II took several of the young men who would have been watching the waves.

By the late 1940s, no discernibly organised patrol existed upon Bennetts Beach, a situation that persisted until the early 1960s, when the new wave of active members pulled together in the face of better infrastructure and greater numbers of visitors as the post-war boom worked its way north from the metropolitan centres.

Both historical accounts should be available via the TGHN SLSC, according to their authors.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

TGHN Surf Life Saving Club’s new sign proclaims the club’s 1931 establishment.

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