Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Avalon Beach 1920's

Sunday August 31st. 2014 was a special day for the members of the Avalon Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, which included this teller of tall tales.
After what seemed like an eternity, the sparkling new surf club house was finally completed and was officially opened for business.

Throughout the decades there have been several buildings that have housed the volunteers who patrol Avalon beach and when one remembers what many of us old dinosaurs regarded as state of the art facilities all those years ago they all paled into insignificance with this new structure.

This is how it all started.
Historical photos courtesy of the Pittwater Online News.
The surf club AGM got under way on time for a change and President Christine Hopton was like a whirling dervish rushing through the business at hand as the official opening was to get underway at 11am, followed by the public inspection. It was going to be an extremely busy day. There was a minutes silence at the start, in memory of all those members who had sadly passed on, then it was down to business.

When the meeting ended, the Nippers and all Active members assembled at the southern end of the club and on a given command they swarmed along the beach in front of the building and proceeded up the front steps and into the clubhouse proper. It was a complete waste of time attempting to obtain some meaningful photos, as all I could see were the backs of many heads, all crammed together on the verandah. It seemed as though the whole of Avalon had turned up for the celebrations and munchies.

The Member for McKeller Bronwyn Bishop cut the ribbon and it was every man and girl for him and herself as the crowds all headed for the club's bar to partake of the goodies prepared by the ladies.
I foolishly said I would wait until the masses began to disperse before having a quick snack or two, but the vultures went through the bar like a plague of locusts in a wheat field and only took around 5 or 6 minutes to devour everything in sight. I'm certain they even ate the plastic and paper plates as well.

Bodies everywhere.
The Official Party.
The quiet before the storm.
I couldn't believe the bar facilities and the overall size of it was bigger than the old club.
The fridge was stacked with many varieties of local and imported ales and lagers. There was the full range of spirits and mixer drinks along with wine.

I suppose this was to be expected as the club now has a liquor licence. 

Years ago all we had was Resch's DA and Pilsener followed by Toohey's Draft. Today have a dekko at what's available.........
A small selection.

The new gas barbecue on the front deck was firing on all cylinders sending the aroma of fried onions wafting through the building. I began to recall the old area out the back of the club where we used to light what was not too far removed from a bonfire and throw on a large steel plate for a barbecue.
Normally I would don the apron and assist with the cooking, but Sam Burgess arrived ahead of me and did an excellent job along with the cook , to ensure there were more than enough snags and onions to feed the hungry masses. I made a contribution however, I ate two of them.

Sam discussing the secrets of the universe with Friendly and Keith Feehley
It's starting to become a regular occurrence at these special events as the same small group of miscreants once again tended to gravitate towards one another to relive the past and relate some of the biggest fibs ever to be told.
This rowdy bunch was led by Brian Friend OAM (Friendly) and was ably assisted by Bob Head, Keith Feehley, Warren Warner(Smiley), Jim Burgess(Sam) and your friendly teller of tall tales, Trevor Fuller(Pogo). From time to time we were joined by others who have made it an art form to take the piss out of anyone and anything.
One thing that pleased us all was learning that former club president Warren Young had been awarded an OAM in the Honours list and Friendly was only too happy to pass on a few tips as what to do when he meets the State Governor to be invested.

Each of the guys had their favourite memories of the past and I was no exception. My mind wandered back to when I joined a surf club that had no facilities whatsoever. What maintained one's interest and enthusiasm were the friendships that were formed and the camaraderie that existed. Every Sunday morning the local coffee shop, the La Fiesta would be full of burping and flatulating reprobates devouring their breakfast while feeling sorry for themselves.
After an hour or so had passed it was into the surf at the southern end alongside the rock pool for a sobering session of body surfing. Many a wave was caught while passing through a floating mass of multi coloured organic material, provided by those with weak stomachs. Despite this it remains one of my fondest  memories from those politically incorrect days and nights spent creating mayhem whilst looking for wreck to wreak.

Surfing in its purest form.
Despite being a happily married man for over forty years, the memories of all that female eye candy we were blessed to have known and loved all those years ago remains constant. Many names have been long since forgotten, but there were those who will never be forgotten. In many of my other blogs certain females are mentioned as I once regarded and still do regard them as specials. One such young lady was Lenya Laurich who was a close friend of Denise Ware and these two would be seen riding their malibus every weekend, surf permitting and/or sunbaking their well formed bodies on the beach itself. 
Lenya was one of the female reel line and belt team who acted as my linesmen when I swam a line out to our damaged surfboat during a mass rescue at Avalon that took place in March 1963. Both she and Denise literally carried me up the beach and left me in the care of the clubs Ladies Auxilliary members after I returned to shore completely and utterly exhausted.
The full story is related in another of my blogs, A DAY AT THE OFFICE.

No sooner was Lenya's name mentioned, when who should stroll into the club, non other than the girl herself. Recognising me she said, "Pogo, I've been reading all your blogs."
My only reaction was to say, "Oh shit."

Lenya and Hubby.

All of us rabbited on for God only knows how long and it became apparent that Lenya's memory was a little sharper than mine at least.
Some of those forgotten names were revealed as Lenya used to hang out with them. She mentioned that many of the locals had moved north hoping to be able to relive some of what went down in Avalon, but she doubted they would as she was convinced this quiet little village north of Sydney was a one off special place.

She then said something that none of us could argue with and I must admit I could not have said it it any better myself.

"It was a very special time in a very special place and what made the place so special was the time and what made that time so special was the place." 

And so say all of us.  

NOTE:  When I was driving back home to Fern Bay, I had this feeling of exhilaration and once again was made aware of how blessed I was to have been a part of what went down during the Sixties and early Seventies.
Lenya had hit the nail squarely on the head.
I can only hope that the present day rank and file look back to today some time in the distant future and realise what a unique and fantastic lifestyle they adopted. 
As for me, I can't wait for the next gathering.

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