Club History


The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia was formed in 1894 with a branch established in Sydney. The Victorian branch was inaugurated at the Port Phillip Club Hotel in Melbourne on December 6th, 1904.

The first club in Victoria was established at Elwood in 1911, on the old rifle range, near Point Ormond. The club’s founding fathers were at the forefront of the push to change state legislation to allow “open sea” and “mixed-sex” bathing during daylight hours. Until these changes were made, bathing in the sea could only be done inside the many enclosed “bathing houses” which dotted the shoreline of the northern reaches of Port Phillip Bay.

Today, only the Middle Brighton Seabaths remain.The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia Annual Report of the day noted that the Life Saving Club would be “equipped with the necessary appliances for treatment of the apparently drowned”.

The Foundation Stone of the Club’s first permanent clubhouse was laid on 5th October 1918, near the beach end of Head Street. The lifesaving club quickly became an integral part of Elwood’s social fabric. By the mid-1920s the club had nearly 500 members.  At various times, the club has had its own football, tennis, table tennis, gymnastic and card teams in local competitions. The club became famous for its weekly Sunday night dances, attended by hundreds, which became known simply as “The Bullfight”. It was the only club of any sort to be allowed to operate its own ambulance service. It became one of the focal points for water safety around all of Port Phillip Bay.

From the 1950s, in conjunction with Radio 3KZ, and later 3AW, weather reports and bay conditions were reported across Melbourne from Elwood LSC. It is reckoned that, in favourable weather, crowds of up to 100,000 people flocked to Elwood Beach in the 1960s and 70s.

The clubhouse building was demolished in the early 1970s and, with the assistance of the then City of St. Kilda, new premises were erected at the present site. This grey cement block, bunker-style building honours Mr John. R. (Jack) Conabere, who with his wife and family, provided great service and leadership to Elwood Life Saving Club, to lifesaving generally and to the wider community over many years.

In 2004 Elwood LSC moved to the new, purpose-built premises within the John R. Conabere Pavilion.

After 100 years of service to the community, we salute the many thousands of lifesavers and club members of Elwood’s past.  We invite you to join us as a new chapter in the club’s story unfolds.