Bronte Surf Life Saving Club, Bronte Beach - Founded 1903
Bronte, a small beach located south of Sydney Harbour - Bondi Beach, then Tamarama, then Bronte.
'Bronte the Beautiful' with an open surf, tall cliffs on each end, a surf ocean pool set in the rock formation on the southern end, then a second pool, then ocean baths which can be awash at high tide. Behind the beach promenade a beautifully maintained park, with picnic facilities and shelter sheds, extends to the west to become a gully between opposing tall hillsides, through which a small creek finds its way to the ocean.
Bronte Beach has a regular bus services to Bondi Junction Rail Terminal and beyond to Central Railway Station in the city (7km).
A visit to Bronte, via the cliff walk from South Bondi, through the tiny beach of Tamarama provides probably the best ocean panorama in Sydney. Beaches, high cliffs, level walking to Bronte and beyond.
Surfing the ocean beaches was forbidden by law in the 1800's but all bad laws have trouble being enforced and Bronte had, in those early days, regular patrons who flouted the law and who sometimes found themselves in difficulties. Being an open beach, a strong rip tide in a heavy swell can easily sweep you away, the Bronte people call it the 'Bronte Express'. After a drowning in 1895, a resident, Major Bond wrote to the English Life Saving Society for all information regarding their new lifesaving organisation.
With their handbook he drilled and trained the Bronte regulars in lifesaving techniques and thus Surf Lifesaving began in Australia at Bronte Beach, before the end of the 19th Century. This small group of lifesavers became a demonstration squad who gave demonstrations at various public swimming pools at the Domain, Parramatta and other locations to wide acclaim. These where widely reported in the newspaper of the day.
The Boer War which started in October, 1899 took Major Bond to South Africa and on his return a Mr W.Biddell was in charge.
The original first group of lifesavers was formed at Bronte in 1903. No records are available but the 1907 annual meeting was the fourth annual meeting as per minutes of that meeting sighted at Waverley Library in 1982.
Since the 2nd World War many clubs have claimed to be the first.
The time capsule found under the old Bronte Surf Club confirms the origins of Surf Lifesaving. The capsule was placed there on the 7th February, 1931. The officers of that time signed a document agreeing that Bronte was the first. They were C.D. Patterson, President and Donald D.Mcintyre, Hon. Gen. Secretary, Surf Lifesaving Association of Australia. These officers were in their positions of a movement which was only twenty three years old and were still young men. They were there.
Bronte Surf Lifesaving Club would welcome any photo's or documents from anyone who can provide them.