pods for primates : a catatogue of surfboards in australia since 1900
home catalogue history references appendix

thorn : helensburgh-stanwell slsc, 1983 
Jim Thorn : Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC, 1983.

Extracts from
Thorn, Jim:
The First 75 Years, 1908-1983.
A History of the Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf life Saving Club.
Surf life Saving Association of Australia - National Council.
"Surf House", 62 Buckingham Street, Sydney 2010, 1983.
Telephone (STD02) 699 6088.

Page 7


When the railway line to Stanwell Park was completed in 1888, it afforded transport to people to come and live in the village.
Stanwell Park did not have facilities for local employment and many of the early settlers found employment in adjacent mines at Helensburgh and Coalcliff.

Stanwell Park also became the mecca for influential visitors from Sydney and surrounding areas.
As a result many fine week-end homes were erected, many of which still are in occupation.
Among the notable people with week-end homes at Stanwell Park were Dr. J. J. r.. Bradfield of Sydney Harbour Bridge fame, Mr. William White of Gartrell-White,  Mr. Lockett, a noted dentist, and many other identities of that era.

With the advent of the railway, and the station being so close to the recreation grounds and surf beach (the station being on the Lawrence Hargrave Drive, just south of the local Post Office) Stanwell Park attracted many families who picknicked on the green areas adjacent to the beach, took advantage of the many shady spots, from the summer heat and above all ventured into the surf.

Page 8


However, on the 11th February, 1908, a public meeting was held in the Centennial Hall, Helensburgh, with Mr. P. Spiller occupying the chair.
The object of the meeting was to form a surf bathers and life saving club.
Correspondence at the meeting was received from the Secretary of the Bondi Surf Club on this matter, and on the motion of Mr. Thomas Horan, seconded by Mr. David Jones, and supported by Mr. A. G. Gilchrist, that a surf bathers and life saving club be formed, the meeting approved and thus was the commencement of this club, to operate at the Stanwell Park beach.

Page 9

Within ten days of the inaugural meeting, two delegates, the club captain, Mr. J. Stewart, and the Secretary, Mr. H. Ogden, were elected to represent the newly formed club at the N.S. W. Surf Bathers Association, at which rules were framed for the regulation of the Association.
The club colours of navy blue with light blue borders were decided upon at the meeting held on the 3rd March, 1908, changed in 1917 to navy blue, with red edging and again changed in 1950 to royal blue, cerise and white.

In April of 1908, the club gave a display at the Stanwell Park beach before a large crowd.
This was followed on the 2nd May of that year by a display at the loce! beach by twellve members of the Bondi Surf Bathers and Life Saving Club, witnessed by some three hundred spectators.
The train and coach fares of the Bondi members were paid by the Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Club. Refreshments were provided at the beach, and later that evening, the Bondi personnel were entertained at a dinner and concert at Helensburgh.
At this stage the newly formed club had no accommodation at Stanwell Park and on 7th October, 1908, the club Patron Mr. H. F. Halloran, who had built a kiosk on the beach, allowed the club use of one room at no cost.
This building was of wooden construction and was situated on the western edge of the beach about one hundred yards north of the present club building.
It had a flat roof, which provided a type of shark and watch tower.

Page 10

Anniversary Day (now Australia Day) the 26th January, 1909 saw the Club hold an exhibition and collect the sum of ten shillings and four pence from collection boxes at the beach.
The club was gradually gaining strength and at 20th February, 1909, had a membership of one hundred.
About this time, the club visited Thirroul beach and participated in a carnival there.

Page 11

The Bulli Shire Council provided the club with a reel, life line and belt for use on the Stanwell Park beach in August, 1910, and at this time Messrs. A. Williams, R. E. Ballantyne, W. Snedden, J. Stewart, C. Nixson, J. Phillips, E. Pearson and J. Smith were submitted to and subsequently approved by the Bulli Shire Council to act as Bathing Inspectors.

Page 13

At a Special General Meeting on the 17th November, 1911 it was decided to purchase a surf life boat, the cost of which was to be limited to fifty pounds.
Also a shelter shed for the boat to be constructed, and a set of parallel bars.
A lookout was to be acquired, to cost no more than two pounds.

A momentous day in the life of the Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf Life Saving Club and most certainly in the Illawarra Branch and the S. L.S.A. itself, occurred on Saturday, 17th February, 1912. This was the occasion of the official launching of the club's first surf boat, the first in the Illawarra Branch and one of the few then in existence in the whole of the Surf Life Saving movement.
Local Council Officers, two representatives from the Illawarra Branch, two each from the Coogee and Manly surf clubs attended the launching.
The boat was christened the "Grace Darling", (described later in this history).
The crew of the boat was Messrs. C. Hillier (Captain), W. Johnstone, D. Duncombe, J. C. Smith and J. Stewart.

It was intended to lay down tram lines from the clubhouse to the waters edge for the conveniance of the boat to the water, supported at that end by concrete slabs, but this idea was abandoned when the obvious difficulties became apparent.

At the Committee Meeting on 28th February, 1912, a young person, later to become widely known and respected throughout the Surf Life Saving Association, and particularIy the Illawarra Branch and this club, for his complete dedication and interest, was nominated and elected as a member of this club - Master John William Mawson, aged thirteen years.

In 1912, a team of Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf Club members competed in a display at Manly, each member being obliged to pay his own expenses of rail and ferry fares, plus carnival entry fees.
1914 saw the outbreak of World War 1 and the many enlistments of club members in the years of that war.
Application was made to the local Council for the appointment of a permanent life saver because of the depletion of active members, but this was refused on the grounds of lack of funds.
The activities of the club were spreading gradually and at the Committee Meeting on Monday, 19th April, 1915, correspondence was received and dealt with from the Cottesloe Life Saving and Athletic Club, Western Australia, seeking information on surfing organisation and activities.
This correspondence was suitably attended to and a reply despatched to the Cottesloe Club.
The club was represented on the 17th November, 1917, at the initial meeting of the South Coast Bathing Association by member, Mr. C. Warren.
The club colours were then registered as navy blue with red edging.

Page 14

At the Annual General Meeting on 28th September, 1921, John William ("Daki") Mawson was elected club captain, which was the commencement of a very long period in that capacity.
During the 1920's, many members from Sydney and Helensburgh lodged in the club house at week ends.
At the northern end of the building in the boatshed lockers kept by individual members were located, each mainly with a nickname painted thereon, such as "Sheik, Spike, Daki, Grumpy, The Polar Bear, Soapy, Yuk, Lardy" and many others.

Page 15

The outbreak of World War 11 on the 3rd September, 1939, was followed by a large number of enlistments in the Armed Services, seriously depleting the club in membership.
World War 11 saw the occupancy of the club building by army personnel, and the meshing of the beach front with barbed wire.

Page 11

Page 22

              H. Bennett C. Lee    A. Brown T. Bennett J. Mawson
I. Melville 
Taken 3-3-1935

Page 30

"Rastus the Great"

In surfing when one hears reference to "Rastus" it is accepted to refer to that renowned sweep of the North Steyne Club.
The outstanding feats of 'Rastus' and his crew at the Bronte carnival on 7th February 1931, when they successfully rescued many juniors who got into difficulties in a surf race conducted in a very trubulent sea, is history.
It was 'Rastus', who took the sweep of the Helengsburgh Stanwell Park surf boat, the "Arthur Rodman" at North Wollongong, after a carnival which had been abandoned because of mountainous seas.
He cracked a huge wave and steered the craft right back to the beach without mischief.

Page 46
Jack Mawson took part in the rescue of a competitor, Jim King, at the Wollongong Surf Club's carnival in 1924.

A very meritorious rescue took place in the early 1940's, when a young member of the club, George Kinnell junior, was doing his belt swim for his bronze medallion examination.
The line became entangled in some object apparently on the seabed, quite some distance from the shore, which prevented Kinnell from swimming further and prevented the linesmen from pulling him back to the beach.
The young man was being held under water by the submerged object, so Kinnell was in the process of drowning.
Club member, Bob Malcolm, swam to the assistance of Kinnell without belt and endeavoured to release the belt, which in those days had no safety release.
However, a person on the beach showed considerable foresight and swam out with a knife and severed the line, freeing Kinnell, who was brought to the shore in an unconscious state.
Jack Mawson applied the Schaeffer method of resuscitation, and almost immediately released a quantity of water from the lad's lungs.
He was taken to the Coledale Hospital and recovered, and to his credit, had the courage to undergo his bronze medallion examination at the Austinmer Beach, about a month later and was successful.

An entry in the local newspaper circulating in the Illawarra area was headed "Gallant Rescue of a Boat".
" The bravery of Stanwell Park lifesavers who saved three men in a 16ft. open launch from being swept onto dangerous rocks in mountainous seas yesterday should be recognised by awards, police said today.
The launch with Bertram Cheetham (50), Arthur Bowler (21) of Coledale, and Ron Wall (21) of Woonona broke down two miles off the Pinnacles, a rocky promontory a mile out from Stanwell Beach, about noon.

Page 47

It had drifted to within about 100 yards of the rocks when lifesaver, Clyde Budd of Stanwell Park reached it on a surf ski, after battling his way through a pounding surf, which several times overturned his ski.

Clyde tied a rope from the launch around his waist and paddled with all his strength for twenty minutes to keep the launch from being dashed to pieces onthe rocks until a surfboat, manned by lifesavers from the Helensburgh Stanwell Park Club, reached them.
It took two hours to tow the launch close to the beach, where the occupants were transferred to the surf boat and brought safely ashore."
Surely a feat of great courage and stamina by Clyde.

Photo of the 'Grace Darling' and club members taken at the extreme southern end of the beach.
Note the poockets of cork on the rescue belts of that time. (also printed on page 52)
Page 52

The first boat was launched on Saturday, 17th February, 1912, four years after the formation of the club, and that in itself was a creditable achievment (sic), being the first surf boat in the Illawarra Branch and among the foremost in the State.
It was called the "Grace Darling", named after the heroine of that name who was responsible for the rescue of a number of persons ship wrecked off the treacherous Farne Islands, a rocky outcrop a mile or two from the shore of Northumberland on the north coast of England, on 7th September, 1838.
The craft was not a sleek speedy design like the present day boats, however it did serve the club well for many years.

Page 53

Launching of the 'Frothblower'.

The next craft were two wooden canoes, named the "GUMBOIL" and "FROTHBLOWER", and each contained floating tanks to prevent sinking.
These canoes were capable of carrying two persons and were constructed by the late George Logan, an architect, and the late Jack Mawson, a foreman boat builder, both employed at the Naval Dockyard, Garden Island, Sydney.
These canoes operated from about 1930 to 1935.

' The Arthur Rodman' 
launched September 1935.

Page 54

A damaged boat was received from the Maroubra Club, formerly used by them and known as the "Arthur Rodman", named after Arthur Rodman a most respected President of that club for many years.
It was given to Stanwell Park Club on the condition that the name be retained.
During the winter months of 1934 and 1935, much hard work was carried out repairing the boat by members of the club under the skill and guidance of Jack Mawson.
It was of heavy construction and required quite a number of helpers to carry it up the beach after use.
This craft was launched on the 1st September, 1935 by J. S. G. (Gordon) Worland, President of the Illawarra Branch.
It might also be mentioned that Gordon Worland served in the capacity as Branch President from 1933 to 1945. Gordon had shown a keen interest in the reconstruction of the boat, visiting our club on a number of occasions and it was a fitting tribute that he should officially launch the craft.
The boat was eventually sold for £1 to club member, Jim McMahon, for fishing.

Page 55

The "Jack Mawson" was named after the illustrious Captain.
When it was suggested that a plywood surf boat be built there were many who had doubts about the likely durability of such a craft in the sea conditions experienced at Stanwell Park.
However, these doubts did not deter the wily Jack Mawson and he soon got permission to build such a boat.
Thus Jack 'Daki' Mawson with some assistance from other volunteers was to spend many hundreds of hours in Fletchers boat shed on the Georges River building the boat, which when completed presented a wonderful appearance.

Boat rules and the boat name were decided six months before the craft was completed and so all was in readiness for that launching day - 17th June, 1945.
The launching ceremony was performed by Mrs. Moseley and the launching crew was Bill Jardine, Geoff Russell, IJack Standen, , Harry Bennett and Ken Redshaw.
Crews trained very diligently, as there were always others wanting to get into the boat crew.
The club was successful in winning the Illawarra Branch Championships in 1946-7 and in 1948-9. The first winning crew consisted of Bruce Russell, Jack Brandwood, Bob Malcolm, Jim McMahon and Con Asmussen, and the 1948-9 crew was the same except that Norm Trevithick had replaced Con Asmussen.
The Jack Mawson was in service right up to 1954 either as a fi rst or second boatland in that year it was given to Fairymeadow Club providing it was used for lifesaving purposes and that it was housed under cover.

"The Jack Mawson 2"
In 1948 discussions were taking place with the Council with a view to them assuming ownership of the surf clubhouse.
Some members felt that club funds may also be sought by the Council so it was decided to utilise the available funds to invest in a new surf boat.
The order was placed within N. & E. Bowns of Newcastle at a cost of ~1/.
Initially the boat was to be "double rigged" as crews felt that it was better for the bow rower to pull rounding the buoys rather than be "back watering" to effect a quick turn around.
However, the boat builder dissuaded the club from pursuing this idea.
On 9th October, 1949 the craft was launched by His Honour Judge Adrian Curlewis (later to become Sir Adrian)
It is felt opportune to register the deep respect and esteem that the members of Helensburgh- Stanwell Park Club have for Sir Adrian and Lady Betty Curlewis and to record the happy association that existed and still exists between them and a number of members of this Club.

Page 56

As with the previous boat there were ample members making themselves available for racing crews and it was no surprise that another Illawarra Branch Championship was won.
On this occasion the crew consisted of Dick Cavanagh, Jack Brandwood, Jim Joy, Eddie Piggot and Norm Trevithick.
Thus Jack Brandwood had won his third boat title in the Illawarra Branch.
Though a new craft was launched in 1954, the Jack Mawson 2 remained in service until 1962 when it was donated to the Yowie Bay Sea Scouts.

"The District News 1"
As boat builders were holding many orders for boats which they could not supply speedily, consideration was given as early as 1951 to placing an order for a boat, but it was decided to defer for a while.
A further move in November, 1953 met with the same result.
However, a Special General Meeting in February, 1954 decided to order a tuck stern boat from Phillips, Boat Builders.

Mr. Sam Frew, the editor of the "District News" circulating in the district, offered to conduct a newspaper appeal to raise funds to purchase the boat and this offer was readily accepted.
The craft was completed and delivered in time to be launched on Boxing Day, 1954.
The official function was performed by Jack Mawson and to his credit Mr. Frew honoured his stated intention by going for a trip through the surf in the boat straight after the official launcing.

Whilst no titles were won in this craft it did perform very creditably and was finally donated to the Camden Haven Surf Life Saving Club.

"The Hal Williamson"
In the early 1960's there were continual differences of opinion between club and Council as to how the club's share of parking fees collected at Stanwell Park could be spent and requests were made to council to permit the fees to be utilised in purchasing a new boat. However, when permission could not be obtained to spend the funds in this manner it was resolved in March, 1962 to place an order for a new boat named after the long serving Club President, Hal Williamson.

Page 57

Fund raising for the craft was lagging somewhat and Phil Anger took it upon himself to seek donations and he was most successful as sufficient had been raised to meet the cost of the craft before it was launched by Mrs. Jean Anger on 4th November, 1962.
Like its namesake the craft has given yeoman service and is still a piece of club equipment.

Page 58

"The Clicka"
As no phenonemal success had been achieved in competition with the previous boat it was felt that a new craft may bring the required results and add another new piece of life saving equipment to the club's gear.

About this time (1966) aluminium surf boats had made their appearance in surf life saving circles and a small committee was set up to look into the desirability of this type of craft.
When the club meeting was held to formalise the ordering of a boat, Dick Cavanagh said "We don't want a tin can - let us buy a regulation plywood craft from Clymer's Boat Builders".
His oratory carried the day and the plywood tuck stern boat was procured and launched in the 1967-68 season.
The official launching ceremony was performed by Mrs. Pat Asmussen.

Again, like its namesake this craft gave invaluable service until it was finally given to Coalcliff Surf Life Saving Club.

"The Alex McKenz ie"
By 1972 Inshore Rescue Boats had made their appearance on the life saving scene, it was decided to set up a study group to consider the advisability of acquiring such a craft.
When the report was tabled it was resolved not to buy one.
Two more studies were under- taken before it was resolved in 1977 to invest in such a motorised craft.
Funnily enough, the person to move the first motion negating the proposed acquisition was the member who moved to buy the craft five years later.

Application was correctly made to have half of the cost borne by a Federal Government Assistance Scheme, but unfortunately the application got fouled up in the Illawarra Branch, leading to much conflict between the club and Branch.
The problem was finally resolved by State Centre of the Surf Life Saving Association meeting half the cost from options not taken up from the original allocation of funds.

Named after Alex McKenzie, then mine host of the I mperial Hotel, Clifton and a great club supporter, it was launched on the 4th December, 1977 by Mrs. Fitzgerald, wife of popular member Alan Fitzgerald, who was President of the Seagulls section of the club for some years.
For a number of years the running costs of the craft were sponsored by Liverpool Chrysler (through Mr. Max Doyle of that Company).

Unquestionably the craft has proved its work as a rescue unit, as a surveillance unit, as a work boat and still continues to give service in these fields.

"The Con Asmussen"
In January, 1978, the decision was made to purchase another tuck stern boat to be named after long time Secretary-Treasurer, Con Asmussen.

The launching took place before a very notable and enthusiastic gathering in June, 1979, and the official ceremony was performed by Mrs. Sandra McGraw, wife of the club's very hard working President at that time.


Again competitive interest flared and the crew of Graham Cook, Phil Doran, Dave O'Grady, Geoff Wood and Chris Emmett were rewarded by the capturing of the Illawarra Open Boat Championship in the 1980-81 season.
Unfortunately while competing in the N.S.W. Championships at North Curl Curl at the 1982 titles, the craft nose dived into the shallow sand bar, when in a good position to qualify for later rounds, and the boat was severely damaged.

Page 60

John William Mawson - known as "Daki", lived at Helensburgh from early childhood.
At the age of about eight years, Jack went to Stanwell Park with h is parents for a picnic.
They were accompanied by Jack's friend, a boy of about the same age and this lad's parents.
They chose as their picnic spot an area near the northern lagoon, which in those days, turned towards the rear of where the local kiosk now stands.
The creek at this point formed a fairly deep channel.
After some time, Jack's youthful companion was found to be missing and after a search his body was recovered from the lagoon.
Life was later pronounced extinct.
There is no doubt that the loss of this lad as a friend made a deep and lasting impression on the youthful Jack Mawson and most probably was the incentive to cause Jack to become involved in surf life saving to such an extent and for a most lengthy period.

Page 61

Jack joined the club on the 28th February, 1912, at the age of thirteen years and enlisted in World War I at the age of eighteen years.
On discharge from the army he eventually took employment at the Naval Dockyard, Garden Island. Jack became foreman boat builder and was able to use this knowledge in the various craft he constructed voluntarily for this club.
He was also able to repair many of our craft when necessary.

The year 1921 saw the appointment of Jack Mawson as Club Captain, a position he fulfilled with distinction for the next twenty-four years continuously.
As Captain, Jack took a personal interest in all members, giving them encouragement and tuition where ever possible in their surfing activities and most importantly sound advice on the necessity to improve their position in life.
As leader, he extended tolerance and sympathy, but was also able to exert discipline and drive. "Daki" became a household name, not only in our club but to the surfing world in his era.

Jack was a strong surf swimmer and board rider, instructor of March Past and R. & R. teams.
He was an Illawarra Branch Delegate to the S.L.S.A. for a period of twenty years and was made a Life Member of the Illawarra Branch and this club.

Page 64

The Bennetts - when delving into the history of this club, it is important to record the valuable assistance rendered by the late Bill Bennett who was a Cartage Contractor at Helensburgh.
Bill provided his truck free of charge to the club for the conveyance of members and their gear to and from the various carnivals.
This service was continued by his son, Harry.
During the depression the generosity of the Bennett's enabled many members to attend carnivals, which their financial position would not otherwise permit.
Harry will be remembered for the rescue he took part in at the south end of the beach, whilst clad in his birthday suit.
Also, many older members recall the cry of "sour plums" that went up, whilst passing the fruit shop on the Lower Coast Road, near Flanagans Creek, Thirroul when going to and from carnivals.
This was in response to an alleged sale of sour plums to one of the members.

Page 65

Tom Bennett - "Red", cousin of Harry Bennett, an outstanding surfer of the 1930's, teamed with notable swimmers Owen and Charlie Griffith, Lance Cutcliffe, Harry Mc- Donald, Toby Barton, Oscar Cook and Ian Melville to provide possibly the strongest swimming competitors the club has experienced and a force to be reckoned with by any other club.
Tom's son, Charles of the Bulli Club proved a top belt swimmer winning many Branch Championships.
"Red" enlisted in World War II, was captured in Greece and made a P.O.W. in Germany for a number of years.
Ian "Snow" Melville -outstanding junior surfer particularly strong in belt races not only in club events but in the Illawarra carnivals.
Still maintains a keen interest in club matters and a worthy contributor to the financial needs.

Page 67
Keith Chapman - prominent in board, ski and boat events.
Was Vice Captain for 3 years, assisted greatly in the staging of the State Titles at Stanwell Park in 1958 and as a Social Committee Secretary was involved in many fund raising ventures.

Ron Chapman - an above average all round competitor in swimming, board and beach events. Ron was involved in a unique 'First' one day in March, 1963, when he obliged in scattering the ashes of Mrs. May Anger, late wife of Harold. Ron did this from his surf ski after the boat crew had encountered problems in negotiating the dumping surf.

Bill Prestage - progressed from the Seagulls to become a keen surf ski competitor.
Was selected in several State Teams and won two State Championships.
Was a member of the Illawarra v South Africa Team, represented in the State Team at the National Champion- ships, City of Perth in 1971 and the Melbourne Cup Surf Carnival team in the same

Clyde Budd - a very keen competitor in ski events, showed outstanding talent at designing and manufacturing surf skis and could also turn his hand at club dances as a musician.
Hopefully, Clyde is the first and last person who will have experienced a shark bite at Stanwell Park. One day, a fishing crew was returning to the beach in ther canoe and they noticed a small shark following.
Shortly after the canoe was beached, Clyde who had been surfing about 80 yards out, had a shark clamp onto his ankle.
Clyde forced it off and got himslef back to the beach for first aid treatment for numerous teeth punctures.
He was further treated by a Doctor at Helensburgh.

Page 69

1954 -1955 North Steyne Double Ski                               R. & C. Budd  2nd
1969 -1970 Ocean Grove (Vic.)  Single Ski  L. Morton 3rd

1956 -1957 Coffs Harbour Open Double Ski W. Piggott & C. Budd 3rd
1969 -1970 Wanda Double Ski  W. Prestage & W. Phillips  3rd
Single Ski Teams  L. Morton, W. Prestage & J. Bowler 1st
1970 -1971 Swansea Caves Open Single Ski W. Prestage 1st
1971 -1972 South Curl Curl Single Ski Relay  Helensburgh-Stanwell Park 2nd
1981 -1982 North Curl Curl Junior Single Ski  Kevin Morton 3rd

Thorn, Jim:
The First 75 Years, 1908-1983.
A History of the Helensburgh-Stanwell Park Surf life Saving Club.
Surf life Saving Association of Australia - National Council.
"Surf House", 62 Buckingham Street, Sydney 2010, 1983.
Telephone (STD02) 699 6088.

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home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2008) : Jim Thorn : Helensburgh-Stanwell Park SLSC, 1983.