This history of the Macksville Scotts Head SLSC was extracted from the “75 Years of Surf Life Saving 1929/30-2004/5 Mid North Coast Branch Inc” publication.
The Club was formed in 1936 with the following being appointed as officers: President, G R Cox; Treasurer, Mr A Spencer; Secretary, Mr A C Wallace. When Spencer and Wallace left the district, Ted Offner was appointed treasurer and R S Madrick took on the role of secretary.
The Club’s first surf boat was a clinker built one that had been the property of Crowdy Head SLSC; this club had gone into recess as many of its members had joined the Army. The boat was given free to Macksville Scotts Head, with the freight by rail from Mooreland being paid by way of donations to the Macksville-Scotts Head Club. Other donations included a set of March Past position pegs by South West Rocks SLSC and a chrome plated reel and line was donated by the head body of SLSA; this reel was to be used only for March Past events.
Some of the active members were: G Barnett, Doug (Mick) Moran, A Izzard, G Seamark, C Brown, Ben Morrison, J Cox, T Williams, I Williams, R McNeill, F Gosson, H Gosson, O Rowe, J Ainsworth, K Yoole, C Burnes, M Potiri and V Larkey.
Fundraising was all important and dances were held at Scotts Head on Saturday nights with a charge of 4/- which covered the bus fare from Macksville and entry to the dance.
Club membership was set at 2/6.
The Club’s third carnival was held on the 26 January 1941. It was noted that a record number of surfmen attended representing the following clubs: Taree-Old Bar, Port Macquarie, Kempsey-Crescent Head, South West Rocks, Macksville-Scotts Head, Nambucca Heads and Coffs Harbour. It can be seen that competitors travelled 100 miles from the south and 50 miles from the north – could there be any better evidence of their keen-ness?
Ritchie Walker gave an entertaining commentary of events; Johnny Mackenzie was Carnival Referee.
Following luncheon six March Past teams paraded. Mr G R Cox (President of Macksville-Scotts Head) extended thanks and gratitude to the spectators and competitors. Cr, Henderson (Shire President) performed the customary official opening of the Carnival.
With the drain on man-power due to World War II the announcer introduced an innovation which drew well merited applause from the assemblage – an R and R squad of young ladies marched onto the arena with heads erect, arms swinging, feet stepping high, and carrying the reel with the precision of their male counterparts, but with the gracefulness of femininity, under the captaincy of Miss Thelma Madrick, who had already won laurels in lifesaving contests at the Armidale Teachers College. The squad also included Misses Kitty Moran, B Clough, Gwen Poole, Kath O’Rourke and Marie Madrick.
Patient Kitty Moran, and beltwoman, Thelma Madrick entered the water together and swam leisurely seaward. When the haul in signal was given they had been carried a considerable distance by the treacherous swirl; by the time the “belly” in the line had been drawn in the two girls had drifted to a hazardous position seaward of the small rocky islet at the northern extremity of the beach; spectators rushed to the point while a number of lifesavers entered the water to assist in the manipulation of the line, while others ensured that the girls were not dashed on to the rocks where they emerged from the foam quite unharmed. Cool and unperturbed after this serious experience beltwoman and patient returned along the beach to complete the demonstration of handling and resuscitating the patient, returning to their respective positions and marching off as a squad in the approved manner.
The performance of these young ladies brought forth spontaneous tributes from officials and surfmen, who classed their drill as equal to that produced by the competitive R and R teams. This squad was trained by Tom Williams.
The Club went into recession during the latter part of the War and was reformed in 1948 with Arthur Owens (President), George Rankin (Secretary), and Lyle Woods (Captain and Instructor). We eventually had seven young chaps receive their Bronze Medallions, and two their Qualifying Certificates and with four or five of the old brigade the Club was on its way. The Mid North Coast Branch gave us all the support possible; a number of Branch Clubs attended our unofficial carnivals to give us competition.
A new surf boat “Lyle Woods” was purchased; we had not swimmers of note, and concentrated on boat racing. A crew went to Bondi, unfortunately the boat was holed. This was plugged with socks and shirts and when these came out in a race the boat was water logged and we had no chance.
The Club was getting good support from the public and business houses, and a suggestion was made to get the girls interested in joining the Club. The idea was get the girls into the Club and the boys would follow. It worked and so started the interest of the girls in a March Past team.
What was needed was a Club House. Visiting Clubs had to rough it when they came to Scotts Head. A site was selected near the headland and after consultation with the Reserve Trust work commenced to bulldoze the area. Donations followed and the building was completed. Tribute being paid to the Ladies Auxiliary without whom the building would not have got off the ground.
In the “early fifties” the Club had only about a dozen members, and the need for new members was apparent; a bronze squad was trained and passed the examination, with examiners coming from South West Rocks; Reg Saunders was Chief Examiner or Superintendent.
The Branch extended from Scotts Head to Forster and travelling was in Lyle Woods’ buses.
The need for a better Club House was eminent so the Scotts Head Reserve Trust was written to obtain land for the building; and a move to obtain funds from the Branch ws made. A grant of 250 pounds was made and a loan of 500 pounds from the Sydney Morning Herald Fund to hel finance the building. Other finances were obtained from dances at Warrell Creek, Scotts Head and Eungai.
The Club applied for and was granted permission to join the North Coast Branch in 1954; this cut down on much of the travelling expenses. The Club had many successes during the next several decades, however there were a number of low periods but the resolution of a small core group members have kept the Club well to the fore in life saving.
In 1967 the Club boasts in having the first ever all Aboriginal Bronze Squad on the north coast.
It is belived that this squad of Jim Donovan, K Ballangarry, L Ballangarry, T Donovan, R Donovan, A Donovan and J Donovan is the first in life saving history. T Hughes, G Storm and M Moran were the examiners.
Louis Ballangarry a member of this squad went on to be the first Aboriginal to become a SLSA Examiner in 1971. Louis has also held numerous positions in his club including that of President.
The continued support of the public and business houses has seen the completion of a new brick Club House, the purchase of new surf boats and all the necessary rescue equipment to keep Scotts Head beach safe.
The Club has won numerous Carnival Competition Point Scores and Patrol Competition.
During 1969 – 1999 there were three generation from one family competing at Carnivals (Branch, Country, State and Australian) the Bells – John, Greg, David and Melissa. Are there any other Clubs in the Mid North Coast Branch or indeed in Australia who can lay claim to this?
The Club has had numerous members who were selected in Branch Teams over the years.
Whilst the Club has been in existence and while a Patrol has been on the beach – NO LIVES HAVE BEEN LOST.
The Club re-joined the Mid North Coast Branch in 1994 and has been a strong force in the Branch ever since.
On Saturday 10 September 2016 a Dedication of Surf Club Extension was held in Honour of Richie Donovan. Richie Donovan is a Life Member of the Macksville-Scotts Head Surf Life Saving Club. In 1967 he was one of the first Aboriginal people to achieve his surf life saving Bronze Medallion, the same year as the famous referendum on Aboriginal voting rights. Besides that he has won many titles, including National Titles, in beach sprinting and continues to this day mentoring the youth of the Nambucca Valley in athletics and personal development.