Our History

Over a Centenary of Tradition


The Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club is officially recognised as the oldest surf lifesaving club in the world. It is an Australian icon and holds an indelible position in Australian history. The primary objective of surf lifesaving was – and is – to protect the bathers who frequent our beaches through manned patrols and associated services.

The Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club was established on the 21st February 1907 at the Royal Hotel Bondi Beach by a group of like-minded bathers. The club was responsible for introducing surf lifesaving to Australia and pioneered the famous surf reel and line. A notable early rescue was one of a young boy by the name of Charlie Smith who later went on to become the famous aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. This rescue was carried out on January 2nd 1907, prior to the club being formed and not with the famous reel which wasn’t invented yet.

The moment that thrust Bondi and surf lifesaving into the public arena was Sunday 6th February 1938. Thirty-one years after the club was founded Bondi members performed over 300 rescues after hundreds of swimmers were swept out to sea by a series of large waves. At the end of the day five lives were lost and the occasion was forever etched into Australian history as ‘Black Sunday’.

Other important milestones in the Club’s history include the development and introduction of duty rosters, test swims and the Bronze Medallion, which is still the basic qualification for lifesavers to this day.

Bondi leads the country in the number of rescues performed and is more committed than ever to providing the highest quality of voluntary community service. We are at the forefront of new technology in the lifesaving field including inflatable rescue boats, jet ski rescue craft and automatic external defibrillators.

Please click on the links below to download our recorded history over the years.