Slowing down to see

Some things catch your eye and it’s only later that you discover why.

Standing by Tallebudgera Creek last Sunday, sky beaming blue and people drifting in and around the foreshore, I waited for a takeaway coffee from The Horse Float. Nestled next to an old fibro building, the Horse Float serves espresso coffee and wood-fired pastries from The Paddock Bakery. The trailer – yes the type that carts horses around – has been converted into a mobile cafe with room for barista, espresso machine and sweet treats.

With our bikes in eyesight, I stood shaded by tall Norfolk Island pine trees. On Australia’s East Coast, the presence of these trees on headlands and shorelines, typically marks where early communities of European settlers gathered. And in many cases, Norfolk Pines remain as beacons of popular swimming locations.

Looking up to the old fibro building, I read: ‘NEPTUNE Royal Life Saving Club’. Then I read it again. Something was different about this faded red script painted onto the fibro wall. I wondered if it was the colour or the way the letters were written. Something about it caught my eye. It seemed to be from a time past. But then the barista called my name and the sign was forgotten, the coffee and croissant enjoyed, and our Sunday ride continued.

Back home later that morning, I downloaded the photos I’d taken while out riding. That faded red script still caught my attention. It said ‘Royal’ and not ‘Surf’. So I googled the club’s name and this is what I learnt.

While Surf Life Saving Clubs, with which I’m more familiar, have responsibility for patrolling surf beaches, the role of Royal Life Saving Clubs is to patrol waterways like inlets, rivers and pools. And then I learnt this…

The NEPTUNE Royal Life Saving Club began in 1928 as Australia’s first women’s only Life Saving Club! Formed in Brisbane, the club took up its current place on the banks of Tallebudgera Creek in 1959. Their clubhouse was a tent!

Two years later in 1961, a single storey club house was built and the NEPTUNE RLSC became the “world’s first all-female Life Saving Club to perform beach patrols with a permanent club house to call its own” (Neptune RLSC).

Of course now the club welcomes both male and female members but its rich history remains.

And this is a wonderful piece of history that I didn’t know. That’s what I like about travelling slowly by bicycle, taking time to stop and looking at what’s there. To let things catch my eye and learn more about the place where I live and roam. I notice things I might never have otherwise seen.


The first all-female Life Saving Club.


The Horse Float


Paddock coffee and wood-fired croissant by Tallebudgera Creek.


The Neptune Ladies Life Saving Club in 1929. (Photo: Sunshine Coast Daily)


1957 at Tallebudgera.

Footnote: During the 1980s, the club added a second story to their building and began admitting male members.


18 Comments on “Slowing down to see

  1. Every once in a while I talk about something I saw while riding that people who don’t ride have driven by hundreds of times and never noticed it. Maybe you can tell your friends that you discovered this gem that is hidden in plain sight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s interesting isn’t it. How things sit quietly there, going unnoticed as everyone goes about their lives. It was the same with the railway bridge that I wrote about a few weeks ago ( ) – quite a few people wrote to me – either here or on Facebook or via email – to say they didn’t know about the bridge’s history and really enjoyed learning about it.
      Thanks for reading John and good pedalling! 🙂


  2. Hi Gail – how fascinating as in the 1960’s I was a member of the RLSS – Royal Lifesaving Society here in the UK. I was on the team that won the UK championships 2 or 3 times- can’t remember exactly but I do remember the honour of representing the UK in Trier in the European championships in 1968 I think it was, I am going to have to delve into stored away stuff to find out. We actucally had a sunny warm day today but apparently it will be much colder tomorrow- that’s the UK for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! So you were a lifesaver, an excellent swimmer too by the sounds of it… and in my books quite a pioneer. That’s a wonderful memory Brenda. 🙂 While writing this post, I learnt the Australian RLSS began as a branch of the UK RLSS in 1894. My life has always been by the sea so I’m much more familiar with the Surf Life Saving Clubs. It was great to learn about how our other waterways are taken care of by the RLSS clubs.
      Glad to read you had a sunny warm day. Good pedalling out there!


  3. Who’d have thought it? An all-women’s lifesaving club. Thanks for the history lesson Gail.
    I like the idea of a horse-float serving coffee. I hope the earthy aromas of previous occupants and horse feed haven’t completely disappeared. It would enhance the coffee for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Robyn, sorry for the delayed reply. I’ve been away over the long weekend and out of internet range. I was amazed to learn about these women – they were pioneers. It was a lovely little piece of hidden history to come across. Hmm…horse scented coffee – not sure it’d work for me 🙂 Have a great day! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, Gail, what a neat part of history you have stumbled upon! It is wonderful what stories turn up with a glint of curiosity and a bit of research…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m a little delayed responding to your comment Bri – I’ve been away for a few days in a national park where internet doesn’t easily reach. So now I’m catching up on my digital world 🙂 This little club was wonderful to learn about. I always enjoy learning about people who do things differently (hence my interest in your blog 🙂 ). These women were extraordinary for their times.


    • That would be a very good Trivia Night question 🙂 Hope your prep for your cycling trip to Sydney is going well Andrew. I’ll check out your Facebook page for updates. Good pedalling! 🙂


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