The first attempt to form a Surf Club at Mona Vale was during the 1913-14 season, but due to the commencement of World War I the Club was not formally created until 1922-23 when The Mona Vale Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club was established.
Soon after the ‘Bathers’ moniker was removed leaving the Mona Vale Surf Lifesaving Club as we know it today.
Mona Vale in September, 1922, was a smallish outpost of Sydney, with hills occupied by farmers and the occasional holiday house. Club members in the earliest years were mostly locals with the initial Club President, Freddie Lane, also holding Australia’s first swimming Olympic Gold Medal.
The first clubhouse was built next to Darley Street and was a wooden structure consisting of a large room and two smaller rooms. Unfortunately private ownership of the land was lost as it was resumed by the NSW State Government.
During 1930-31 the Club was reinvigorated by a group of G.P.S private school ‘old boys’ and the Club’s name was changed to - The Mona Vale Alumni Surf Life Saving Club - with most of the members residing on the lower North Shore and commuting each weekend for patrols and social functions.
The second clubhouse was constructed by Warringah Shire Council in 1934 and was a two-story brick structure located about 70m southeast of the present building. This building underwent a number of subsequent renovations over the years and was well and truly past its prime when replaced by the existing structure in 1969.
During World War II, the Club was maintained by members until Australia fell under threat and barbed wire entanglements were placed on the beach by Defence Authorities. Many members were recruited for armed service and during 1942 the local armed forces took command of the clubhouse and remained there for the duration of the war.
Our first Life Members were endorsed in 1945-46 – R.A. Dickson and G.R. Wray and the word ‘Alumni’ was dropped from the Club name prior to the 1949-50 season.
During the 1970s, patrols consisted of mandatory surf reel, line and belt - the normal rescue equipment, and a three-sided patrol area. Compared to current practices many more rescues were affected due to a lack of surf awareness education and the absence of leg ropes for surfers.
In 1973-74, the Club received its first IRB (inflatable rescue boat) courtesy of the Lion’s Club, but it was nothing compared to the speed machines used in modern day surf patrolling. The Club celebrated significant success in IRB competition in the 1990s, becoming Branch, State and National Champions.
In 1977-78, our first Marathon Ocean Swim from Warriewood was held with 20 swimmers and years later it continues as one of our biggest fundraising events. Named after founder and Life Member, Don 'Doc' Jenkin, it was one of the first organised ocean swims held in Australia and has been replicated by many other clubs to assist with their own fundraising events. MVSLSC also runs the ‘Cold Water Classic’ Winter Solstice swim as a popular additional fundraiser.
In 1979-80, women were admitted into the Club (a hotly debated topic), and like other surf lifesaving clubs, MVSLSC initially struggled to adopt the cultural change. It was not long before the members realised the benefit of greater patrol strengths and a more family orientated direction with women on board as active patrolling members.
Another important milestone was establishing the ‘Nippers’ program which was first formed in 1965 and ran until 1972. It was re-established in the 1977-78 season and is one of the fastest growing community programs the MVSLSC operate.
In 2022, Mona Vale SLSC marks a significant milestone—100 years of volunteer service, safeguarding Mona Vale beachgoers. With zero lives lost during patrols, the club has executed numerous rescues and emergency treatments since its inception in 1922. Over a century, it has evolved into a strong, inclusive family club, training thousands and contributing significantly to the Mona Vale and Northern Beaches community. The club's new iconic clubhouse signifies a historic transition in 2022, and as the Club embarks on their next century, Mona Vale SLSC looks ahead with enthusiasm, commitment, and a legacy of success, acknowledging the invaluable contributions of members, families, and supporters.Read 100 Years of Saving Lives