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Tama Surf Club A Way Of Life For Many

By Philippa Ardlie on July 16, 2014 in News

Photo: Tamarama SLSC Heritage Steward

Photo: Tamarama SLSC Heritage Steward

Do you love Tamarama Beach? Are you one of the thousands of people who have been caught in the rip or scraped on the reef? Have you ever been thankful that there were volunteers watching out for you?

Tamarama Surf Life Saving Club is launching its film, ‘A Way of Life’, at the Randwick Ritz Cinema on Thursday, July 17 at 5.45pm, which features the stories of 28 surf club life members, capturing the spirit of community, camaraderie and courage at one of Australia’s founding surf life saving clubs.

Tamarama SLSC is an iconic club with a rich heritage. The club was established in 1906 by a gathering of local men following the drowning of their neighbour. The members soon designed the first reel used in Australia and two years later raised 60 pounds to build the first clubhouse.

Despite being a founding club of the surf life saving movement, the powers that be declared the beach unsafe and closed it permanently. Members ignored this and carried on their community service with little or no help from outsiders for about twenty years. Tamarama Beach is right up there as one of Australia’s most dangerous beaches and during those years no life was lost while the beach was patrolled. The club is very proud that this record still stands today.

The life members’ stories reflect the rich heritage of the club. For example, during WWII when the beach was closed off with barbed wire, it was nothing to walk around with pliers to ensure access. Or there was the time when fifty rescues were carried out after people flocked into the water following a plane crash. March pasts were serious business back then and competition in surf and sand events was fierce. But, just like today, even if you weren’t any good you had a go.

Getting to competition was an experience too – everyone piled in to the back of a truck and off they went. That’s not the done thing these days and nor is the equipment the same, or as the older life members say: “What equipment?” There was no sunscreen and no hats, the boards were homemade and so to were the bathers. They looked great though and a bevy of beauties used to hang around to see the buff men in action.

“I am incredibly honoured, proud and humbled that not only the club but the community is taking an interest in the efforts we went to to keep everyone at the beach safe. There has been a lot of change, but nothing changes the spirit of contributing to the community. It’s really wonderful to be a part of Australia’s history through a little surf club with a big heart,” said Henry Hourihan, club patron, life member and club member for over sixty years.

The ‘Country Club of the Eastern Beaches’, the ‘Dulux Club’ – whatever you want to call it – members of Tamarama SLSC past and present know it as ‘A Way of Life’. All funds raised from the film screening go back to the club, so get along and support the club so that they can continue to support you. You can buy your tickets now at, and while you’re there you can check out the official trailer as well as the ABC News item on the project.