Nambucca Heads Surf Lifesaving Club looking a million bucks after phase one of renovations

A year ago anyone pulling into Main Beach, Nambucca, would have been blown away by the view...until they spied the weathered red-brick, and under-utilised surf club nestled in the bosom of the headland.

'What a missed opportunity!' was my first thought when I rocked into town two years ago.

Even more so when you consider the wealth of history in the club. Did you know the term 'Nippers' was coined in Nambucca?

There were always ideas floating around about what could be done to capitalise on the million dollar view from the second storey windows.

But there was noone game enough to take the huge renovation project on.

That was until Gary Colston stepped up to be president of the Nambucca Heads Surf Life Saving Club.

Freshly retired from Essential Energy and with grandkids in the Nambucca Nippers, Gary was keen to put his hat into the ring for "a position" on the committee...he never anticipated he would be nominated for president.

But he's stepped up to the plate swinging; he's come into the role with a swag of fresh ideas and the grit to get it done.

And the whole town is right there with him riding this wave of momentum.

In the past eight months, the whole community has pitched in to turn the building into something special.

Local businesses like the Guardian Pharmacy, Nambucca Valley Legal, Nambucca Glass Repairs, Nambucca Building and Hardware, Wright Bros Civil and Earthmoving, Roberts Real Estate, McGraths, Commonwealth Bank - to name just a few - have all generously chipped in to the project.

We've had locals throwing so much money at us. It's awesome how the community has come together for this.

Gary Colston

In fact, since State member Mel Pavey secured the $120,000 in grant funding for the club, local business donations and fundraising efforts of club members have more than doubled that kitty.

And it's been put to good use.

Valla's Wayne Frank Constructions and Integrity New Homes have put a lot of work into knocking up designs and have replaced the rusted old railings with schmick stainless steel ones, and put up new eaves, guttering, fascias, lintels, security cameras, lights and brackets for a new roof.

The red bricks have been rendered and a new paint job has brought the building to life.

"The painter was just here this morning taking photos. Even he couldn't believe how good it's come up," Surf Club captain and resident Kevin Morrison said.

Before

Before

After

After

Inside, there are new fans, lights and fridges, and local dentist Sam Martin, who owns Great Hops Brewery in Armidale, is installing a brand new bar and beer taps pro bono. Plus he's contributing 150L of his ales for free as a trial.

"And once that beer is flowing, every cent made from those 150L will be put back into the club," Gary said.

John Partridge from the Golden Sands has been letting the club borrow his bar stools and tables.

There's a billiard table, and table tennis now that have both been generously donated.

"It makes the place really family-friendly. The kids can play or go have a swim, while mum and dad sit in here with drinks," Gary said.

And, of course, the Surf Club got itself a liquor licence which has already been put to good use.

"It's the first time this place has ever had a liquor licence," Gary said.

"And we visited Scotts Head Surf Club to see how they did it."

The bar is still under construction, but they've managed to nab the old perspex bar sign from the Golden Sands Tavern when it was where the Woolworths is now.

The bar is still under construction, but they've managed to nab the old perspex bar sign from the Golden Sands Tavern when it was where the Woolworths is now.

The club has already been making money since the launch of its Sunday Sips; an initiative to keep the club alive in Winter.

"But it doesn't matter if we make $100 or $1000 because it's just awesome to see it being used when it wasn't before," he said.

"During the last one they were rolling in off the beach from about 1.30pm and grabbing a beer. It was great."

They've already successfully hired the venue out for an engagement party during the off season, and there's a wedding in the works for October.

Plus at the end of this month, Wharf Street Cafe's Dean Cruikshank and Amber Elliott are hosting a sold-out curry night with all proceeds going towards the club's reno.

"There are 90 people booked in for that and a steadily-growing waiting list, and we're not paying for anything, so hats off to Dean and Amber," Gary said.

And it's still early days.

Gary plans to meet with the Mayor and Council General Manager today to see what can be done about securing funding for a deck to be installed.

The plan is for the covered deck to run the whole length of the building and come out as far as the grassed area.

Gary said Hansen Yuncken, who are contracted to build the new hospital, have priced the deck build at around $170,000, but said they would knock $30 - 50K off that price for the club.

"If we got $100,000 tomorrow we could start to build next week," Gary said.

He's hoping to have the deck ready for use by Christmas.

A mock-up of the proposed deck which Gary hopes to have ready by Summer

A mock-up of the proposed deck which Gary hopes to have ready by Summer

With more funding, there are also plans to convert the interior carpet into polished wooden floorboards.

There'll be new wooden bench seats installed where the shower fixtures used to be.

And while they'd already finished the exterior paint job by the time Dulux (who often donate paint to surf clubs) got in touch with them, they have agreed to fund the interior paintwork.

The plan is to have the bar open every Sunday this coming January, and in late November, the club will host a 'Sculptures by the Sea' festival with installation pieces designed by the talented art and metal work students from Nambucca Heads High School.

Club secretary Chris Stewart - who remembers when the old timber clubhouse was knocked down in the late 80s - said he's thrilled by what's been achieved since October and is excited about what's to come.

"I think it's just awesome. I think it'll see an increase in our membership right across the board," he said.

And Gary is hopeful that our new Federal member will make good on his word to help fund the Club's efforts to revitalise.

Regardless, it's heartening indeed to see what a community with a vision and a strong guiding force can achieve in just a few short months.

Bravo!

For more information about any of the events planned, or to hire the surf club, contact Gary Colston on 0427 203-643.

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