Once inhabited by the Gumbaynggirr people, the seaside town of Sawtell was commonly referred to as Bonnie Bonville until the mid 1920s.
Initial attempts to form a surf life saving club in 1926 were not successful and it was not until 1932 with support from Coffs Harbour Surf Club that Sawtell SLSC was established.
On February 7th 1932, nine members obtained their Bronze Medallions.
Over the following years the Club has at times struggled and at other times thrived but can proudly report “no lives lost” whilst the beach has been patrolled.
A snapshot of Sawtell‘s history shows that the Club
- Hosted its first carnival on 29th January 1933.
- Went into recess in the early 1940s as many of the community were signing up for active service.
- Opened its first clubhouse on 29th November 1953.
- Established a “Nippers” and “Mermaids” movement for juniors in 1968/69.
- Hosted the inaugural Country Championships in January 1971.
- Won a surf boat donated by United Permanent Building Society for community involvement in 1975.
- Was the first NSW Country Club to patrol its beach on Saturdays – in 1976/77.
- Won the Mayne Nickless “Champion of Champions” Boat final – another first for a country club – in February 1981.
- Opened its new replacement (and still current) clubhouse on 5th June 1983.
- Hosted the NSW Junior Interbranch Carnival in December 1991.
- Won its first gold medal at the 1994 Australian Championships – Trent de Carle U18 Board. Subsequent winners at these Championships have been: Roy Holloway, an U21 March Past team, Courtney Hancock, Bonnie Hancock and Kayla Russell.
- Won 23 Country Juniors titles and 9 State Juniors March Past titles.
- Held a successful 75th anniversary function on 11th August 2007 – that year coincidentally being the centenary year for surf life saving.
- In 2014 elected their first female President.
- In 2015 the Club received approval from Council of the development application for a new clubhouse.
- In 2016 became the first club in the North Coast Branch to achieve the Bronze Award under the SLSNSW Quality Club Program.
- In 2017, placed 2nd overall at the Country Championships held at South West Rocks.
- In 2017, won ‘Top Country Club’ award at the State Age Championships at Swansea Belmont.
- Won gold medal at the 2019 Australian Championships – U17 Ski Relay: Libby Waugh, Alyssa Golding and Emily Meacham.
- Won silver medal at 2019 Australian Championships – U17 Board Relay: Kate Murray, Alyssa Golding and Emily Meacham.
The following club members have been recognised for their involvement in the movement at a high level:
- David Jones – NSW Life Saver of the Year – 1978, Life Member of Sawtell SLSC
- William (Bill) Singleton – Life Member of Sawtell SLSC, North Coast Branch. SLSNSW and SLSA and an Order of Australia medal for services to surf life saving
- Victoria Clancy – NSW Junior Life Saver of Year – 1997
- Kerry Clancy – Life Member of Sawtell SLSC, North Coast Branch and SLSNSW, Deputy President SLSNSW