Brunswick SLSC History

Brunswick Surf Life Saving Club was formed at a meeting on Friday 8th November 1935 from a motion that the public of Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads co-operate to form a Surf Club to patrol the south beach at Brunswick Heads.

Membership was set at 25 cents per year and many of the founding members were to become Life Members of the Club and be recognised by SLSNSW for 50 years of service.

The first clubhouse was hessian bags wrapped around tree trunks and used as changing rooms for the club members. Not long after a shed was renovated to store the gear – one reel and line donated by Byron Bay Surf Club.

75th anniversary books are available for $20. The 75th anniversary book celebrates 75 years of the Brunswick Surf Club over 3 chapters:

  • 50 Years of Service 1935-1985 by Reg Byrnes
  • The Next 10 Years 1985-1995 by Reg Byrnes
  • Looking Forward Looking Back – The Last 15 Years 1995-2010 by Ray Linabury.


The first Clubhouse proper was opened in 1939 and the original shed was extended to hold the first surfboat purchased second-hand from Avalon SLSC in 1940. This old boat shed was pulled down and until 1946 the boat was transferred to the beach each Sunday by rowing it around the channel or by carrying it across the footbridge.

The first Surf Carnival was held in November 1935 with teams from Yamba, Evans Head-Casino, Ballina Lighthouse-Lismore and Byron Bay SLSC taking part. As the footbridge was not built until December 1936, the crowd of 400 had to be ferried across the river by a fleet of boats or swim.

The first bronze squad passed with credit in February 1936 and included Ted Healy and Clive Wraight both of whom became life members.

The first clubhouse was constructed in 1939 of two floors of fibro cement at a cost of $2048. High seas and severe erosion caused considerable damage to the building with sandbags having to be deployed on Christmas Day 1950 and as they were washed away, again on Boxing Day. A cyclone developed in 1950 and all gear had to be removed as it was feared the sandbags would not hold. One member, transporting a ski was able to catch a wave washing down the sand track from the clubhouse to the river.

Council commenced to build a log wall in 1951 but due to the pile driving equipment breaking down it was not completed until 1955 when the broken down equipment was finally removed from the beach. Further erosion and cyclones continued to damage the old club house and renovations were carried out in 1957/58.

In 1959/60 the road bridge was constructed to enable the transport of the large rocks for the south wall of the breakwater and for the first time gear did not have to be carried across the footbridge or rowed across in boats. Until this time most surf boats were rowed down the river and out the mouth to get to the beach. The build up of the beach as a result of the break walls resulted in the first telephone being installed in 1964/65.

A tornado type storm hit in December 1964 and caused further damage to the clubhouse, which now had a lean despite being propped up. Plans were drawn for a two-story brick clubhouse and Byron Shire council accepted a tender for $22,000 and the old clubhouse was demolished in August 1968.

The foundations for the new clubhouse were poured in September 1968 and the building was officially opened during a surf carnival on 26 January 1969. In 1975/76 the club purchased their first IRB. In 1980/81 the first official Nipper committee was formed with Byron Bay Nippers paying for the first years affiliation. Fees were set at 50cents with 20 cents to go to registration and 30 cents towards gear purchases – one foam board and one hollow board.

In 1980/81 Brunswick competed in the inaugural IRB State Carnival in IRBs borrowed from Fingal and Ballina clubs (ours was damaged in a rescue) and earned a gold medal in Mass Rescue, a silver medal in the Rescue and 4th in the B grade Mass Rescue. This started a long domination of IRB events for Brunswick on the Far North Coast.

In 1980/81 the first two women passed the qualifying certificate examination of SLSA of Australia. In 1983 nine women became the first female members of Brunswick Surf club to pass their Bronze medallions and in 1984 Byron Shire Council employed the first woman life saver.

In 1988 the Rotary Observation and Communication (Shark) tower was opened and Nippers purchased the large beach tent. In 1987/88 the inaugural Australian IRB championships were held at Cronulla. Brunswick was the only club to qualify in all finals in rough seas. On Sunday Brunswick won four of the five finals and was second in the other but was disqualified for leaving the boat in gear.

In 1988/89 Brunswick was top club in Australia based on gold medals won at all carnivals during the season. In 1992/93 Brunswick Valley Banana Growers donated the Patrol wagon. The extensions to the clubhouse were officially opened in January 1993.

Petria Thomas honoured with 10 year honorary membership in recognition of her achievements in 1994/95. In 1995/96 the extension was added to the upstairs deck and in 1996/97 the First Aid room and canteen was refurbished. This is the Club as you see it today and currently there are plans for major extensions, which are awaiting approval.

2001/2002 saw three major donations, the first being a club 4WD ute made available through a program by General Motors Holden and purchased with the generous donations of Tony Carsburg Holden and the Hotel Brunswick. The State Government of NSW donated gear to most clubs in NSW and Brunswick was lucky enough to be given a fully equipped quad bike – first aid gear, a rescue board, tube and radio – and a fully equipped IRB – engine and radio.

Taken from Reg Byrnes books ‘1935 – 1985 The First Fifty Years’ and ‘1985 – 1995 The Next Ten Years’ with Nipper information provided by Julie Baines

Life Members

Gavin Arthur
Andrew Arthur – 2009/2010
Adrian Russell – 2004/2005
Bruce Stewart – 2003/2004
Chris Mallam – 1998/1999
Kris Southwell – 2009/2010
Keith Batson – 1990/1991
Mark Edwards – 1992/1993
Mark Quinn – 1994/1995
Philip Batson – 1990/1991
Chris Johnston – 1986/1987
Frank James – 1972/1973
Les Wraight – 1972/1973
John Fisher – 1966/1967
Lindsay Cooper – 1965/1966
Barry Hammond – 1963/1964
Don Wraight – 1965/1966
John Graham – 1962/1963
Reg Byrnes – 1962/1963
Clive Wraight – 1956/1957
Ted Healy – 1956/1957


Raymond Musgrave

  • 1990 Australian Champion Motor Assembly
  • 1990 NSW Champion Teams Event
  • 1988 Australian Champion Rescue Event
  • 1988 NSW Champion Mass Rescue – Teams Event Rescue Event
  • 1987 NSW Champion Motor Assembly
  • 1986 NSW Champion Motor Assembly A & B
  • 1985 Australian Champion Mass Rescue – Motor Assembly
  • 1985 NSW Champion Mass Rescue – Motor Assembly A & B (Also Tooheys Man of the Carnival)
  • First Australian IRB Pointscore Winner – Team member

Mark Quinn

  • 1990 Australian Champion Motor Assembly
  • 1990 NSW Champion Motor Assembly
  • 1987 Australian Champion Mass Rescue – Motor Assembly
  • 1988 Australian Champion Rescue Event
  • 1988 NSW Champion Rescue Event – Rescue Tube Event
  • 1988 NSW Champion Teams Event – Mass Rescue
  • 1987 NSW Champion Motor Assembly
  • 1986 NSW Champion Motor Assembly A & B
  • 1985 NSW Champion Mass Rescue – Motor Assembly A & B (Also Tooheys Man of the Carnival)
  • 1981 NSW Champion Mass Rescue

Andrew Arthur

  • 1996 Australian Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1990 Australian Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1990 NSW Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1989 Australian Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1989 NSW Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1987 Australian Champion Mass Rescue
  • First Australian IRB Pointscore Winner – Team member

Shane Arthur

  • 1990 Australian Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1988 Australian Champion Rescue Event
  • 1988 NSW Champion Mass Rescue – Rescue Event

Keith Batson

  • 1990 Australian Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1989 Australian Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1989 NSW Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1988 NSW Champion Teams Rescue – Tube Rescue
  • 1984 NSW Champion Rescue Event
  • First Australian IRB Pointscore Winner – Team member

Lyn Cuthbertson

  • 1989 Australian Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1988 NSW Champion Tube Rescue
  • 1989 NSW Champion Tube Rescue
  • First Australian IRB Pointscore Winner – Team member

Meg Quinn (nee Musgrave)

  • 1990 Australian Champion Motor Assembly

Peter Ceglinski

  • 1996 Australian Champion Tube Rescue

Richard Kratzman

  • 1996 Australian Champion Tube Rescue

Errol Bartz

  • 1981 NSW Champion Mass Rescue

Mark Edwards

  • First Australian IRB Pointscore Winner – Team member
  • 1984 NSW Champion Rescue Event

Gavin Arthur

  • 1985 NSW Champion Mass Rescue

Meritous Awards

Rescue 31 January 1957

  • SLSA Certificate of Merit – Clive Wraight (dec)

For bravery in the rescue of two swimmers caught in a strong rip at Brunswick Heads Beach

31 January 1957

  • SLSA Certificate of Merit / Silver Medal Royal Shipwreck Relief & Humane Society of NSW – Clive Wilkins Hammond
  • SLSA Letter of Commendation – Barry Hammond
  • SLSA Letter of Commendation – W (Bill) H James

For Bravery on 29 March 1953 when he rescued two women from probable drowning in the sea near Brunswick Heads. The two women were visitors and had hired a boat for fishing purposes at the mouth of the river, but owing to the strength of the current and the rough conditions the boat was swept to sea and capsized some 300 yards from shore. The two women clung to the upturned keel but were washed off due to heavy seas. Hammond, from the beach, saw their predicament and immediately swam out to their assistance. The sea was choppy and difficult and Hammond was compelled to grip first one woman and then the other by the hair with one hand to keep them afloat while he towed them to safety. All were exhausted as they were assisted to shore by Messrs W H James, A C Dunstan, J E Cawlet and Barry Hammond. Listen to the 1950’s Radio Play commemorating this courageous rescue by the Hammond brothers and Bill James

5 April 1981

  • Royal Humane Society Bronze Medallion – Adrian Russell
  • Royal Humane Society Certificate of Merit for Bravery – Mark W Edwards
  • Royal Humane Society Letter of Appreciation – Mark John Quinn
  • Royal Humane Society Letter of Appreciation – John Russell Knight

At about 10.45 am on 5 April 1981 a powerboat containing three persons was capsized while entering the Brunswick River in huge seas, throwing the occupants into the water. The lady in the group swam to the North Wall where she was thrown a life preserver; she then swam to the upturned boat where her husband and another man were clinging to the hull.

While the couple where clinging to the life preserver, their companion was seen floating face down towards the northern side of the North Wall. Fox and (Mark) Edwards went to the aid of this man and eventually managed to get him on a surfboard owned by Fox. (Mark) Quinn and (John) Knight commenced resuscitation.

Senior Constable McKellar then joined Quinn I n an IRB, however it was overturned by a wave and the men had to swim back to the beach. In the meantime (Adrian) Russell, having been originally towed by the IRB to a position near the couple supported by the life preserver, swam to their aid, despite a strong current which threatened to sweep them onto the rocks. Fox on his surfboard joined Russell in the rescue, and finally managed to convey the couple to shore. The area where the rescue took place was a confined one between two rock walls, making such attempts extremely hazardous in the prevailing conditions.

Rescue 17 April 2006

  • SLSC Certificate of Merit – Casey Brennan
  • SLSA Commendation – Luke Essery
  • Group Commendation – Gavin Arthur, Tierney Brennan (15 years), Courtney Essery (17 years), John Garrard (16 years), Sam Martin (15 years), Anna Pyke (18 years)

For Bravery in surf rescue displayed on 17 April 2006 during the rescue of two fellow surf lifesavers in extremely rough seas when their IRB overturned at Brunswick Heads. Casey (17years) and Luke Essery (18 years) seeing that the IRB had overturned and the driver and crewman were in trouble swam out 100m and retrieved the IRB and assisted the crewman (Gavin Arthur) to the beach. Once the IRB was safely on the beach they noticed that the driver (Mark Hildebrandt) had not made shore and was in fact being taken south in a strong current. Casey grabbed a rescue tube and returned to the water after the Mark while Luke Essery obtained a rescue board from the patrol and attempted to get through the 2.5meter (5+m at the face) surf.

In an attempt to get out of the break Mark had swum further from shore and was now over 100m from shore and caught in a northerly current. Luke, seeing that Casey was near the swimmer, crossed the river on his board anticipating where the swimmers would land and was followed shortly thereafter by Gavin – who had recovered somewhat – and Sam Martin. Patrol members John Garrard and Courtney Essery took the quad-bike – with the oxy-viva and other first-aid equipment – across the road bridge (the only access to the north wall from the south side of the river) and met the others on the north beach.

Mark reached the south wall and tried to exit the water onto the rocks, but the rough seas twice knocked him back into the river and he was unable to exit. Members of the public threw the two life preservers to him but he was unable to grab them. Members of the public were helping by directing Casey towards Mark through the seas. Casey could see Mark and maintained a distance of about 10m from him across the bar, but was unable to catch him.

Mark was carried passed the north wall by the sweep and eventually was able to approach the shore. As he was emerging from the water another wave caught him and knocked him down and he was unable to stand again, but several fishermen ran to help in the calmer waters, directed by Luke who had now arrived on the north shore. Casey followed Mark in to shore after a swim of approximately 600m through rough seas.

Casey maintained Mark on oxygen and Luke, assisted by Sam Martin, controlled the scene including the subsequent arrival of the vehicular and Westpac Rescue helicopter. Mark was subsequently airlifted to Lismore Base Hospital. Casey showed exceptional courage, determination and surf ability well beyond her age.



2008 Nippers Branch Carnival

2008 Nippers Country Carnival

2007-2008 Boat Crew


Tower Construction