LEST WE FORGET: Part of Gosford RSL’s club memorial to Australian Diggers.
LEST WE FORGET: Part of Gosford RSL’s club memorial to Australian Diggers.

Gosford RSL celebrates organisations’ 100th birthday

THIS year, 2016, marks 100 years of the RSL movement in Australia and celebrations of all descriptions have been held or are about to be held in coming months.

The first club on the Central Coast was at Gosford, formed in 1919, and which flourishes to this day. Ernest Keith White was the founder and first president of the Gosford Returned and Services League Sub-Branch after serving as a Captain and Adjutant of 4 Battalion, Australian Imperial Force France.

He was also the founder in 1936 and first Federal President of the Australian-American Association. In 1943, he was founder of and president of the Liberal Democratic Party, which later combined with others to form the Liberal Party.

A preliminary meeting was held in November 1919 to inform potential ex-servicemen of the intent to form a sub-branch in Gosford and the first official meeting was held in December 1919, at which Captain White was confirmed as the foundation president.

Land was donated by Dr James Paul, located behind the old Anglican Church opposite the Cenotaph as its known today.

The Brisbane Water District Club and the sub-branch were one and the same at this time in history.

It consisted of a caretakers' quarters, auditorium, a billiard room containing two billiard tables and an enclosed veranda.

The good doctor put a covenant on the property that the premises would not permit the sale of spirituous liquor. However, being ex-servicemen, they were a resourceful lot and soon identified a downstairs room as an informal bar area, which provided members with copious amounts of beer known as "Mudgee Mud".

Later a new club was built in Mann St, Gosford, but it was gutted by fire in the mid-1970s. The new club now stands at West Gosford and boasts a large and growing membership.

Ourimbah Lisarow Sub-Branch is the second oldest on the Coast and was formed in 1920 after soldiers returned from the 1914-1918 war. The first meetings were held in Ourimbah Public Hall on the service station site opposite the Tall Timbers Hotel.

Anzac Day marches commenced from the hall to the Cenotaph, then returning to the hall for a religious service. The licensed club itself on the Pacific Hwy was originally a saw mill office and produce store.

In 1965 the premises were extended, which included a large auditorium and stage. In 1974 the premises were again extended, moving onto the original bowling green, which was moved to its current location.

Another old sub-branch on the Central Coast is at The Entrance, which was formed in 1928. Other RSLs on the Coast are located at Wyong, Doyalson, Toukley, Ettalong and Davistown.

RSL National History

The RSL is one of Australia's oldest and most respected national organisations. The League was founded in 1916 and supports serving and ex-service defence force members and their families and promotes a secure, stable and progressive Australia.

The RSL National Headquarters was situated at 81 Constitution Avenue in Campbell in the ACT from August 7, 1963 when it was officially opened by His Excellency The Rt. Hon. Viscount De'Lisle, Governor-General of Australia, until the end of 2012. The headquarters is now in temporary premises at 7-9 Geelong St, Fyshwick, ACT until new permanent premises are built on the old site, hopefully within the next five years. The headquarters is managed by the CEO with a small number of staff to maximise funds that go to veterans and their families.

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