THE bidding on a 1950s Palm Beach house with no views and a bus stop out the front hit $3,235,000 at auction on Tuesday – $400,000 more than the members of the Palm Beach Surf Club had hoped to pay.But without blinking, they bought it anyway.The purchase confirmed what many in Sydney already knew. The Palmy lifesavers might plant red and yellow flags on the city’s northernmost beach like any other at weekends, but theirs is no ordinary surf club.In fact, it is the biggest landholder in the suburb and has always counted the city’s judges, business people and bankers among its membership.The club’s hectare of oceanfront land – on which sit the Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club as well as social outfits the Cabbage Tree and Pacific clubs – is already twice the size of the nearby Joye family compound and almost three times as big as the Packers’ neighbouring pile.A few hundred metres away, however, the North Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club is very different: its single-storey cabin sits on the heath at the windswept other end of the beach.Here middle-aged volunteers staff the tuckshop, selling ice-creams and Home and Away key rings to tourists who flock to the place they know as Summer Bay.To the volunteers it’s ”paradise”, albeit a markedly smaller operation. ”We’ve been working for 20 years to put a second storey on the club – or to be in a position where we can start to think about a second storey,” its president, Terry Kirkpatrick, said. ”Even though we’re located on the same beach, we’re two very different clubs.”The Palm Beach Surf Life Saving Club has been most famous for the exclusivity of its membership – the son of a Labor politician was famously rejected in 1956 and a ban on Japanese and Koreans was only lifted this decade. ”It has a valuable social cache within certain circles,” said Dr Sean Brawley, honorary historian to Surf Life Saving Australia. ”It is like saying you are a member of the Australia Club.”But the club knows that real estate is what really sets it apart.Late last week an email from the club to its members made the case for the latest acquisition: ”Although there are many things which differentiate our great club from others it would be amiss to think that the club could exist in its current robust form without the foresight of our founding members in attaining such a strategic group of properties.”The email noted several benefits to buying the property, among them the addition of more room for accommodation and equipment storage.Dr Brawley said despite the affluence, Palm Beach still has much in common historically with other outfits: ”Once you’re in the club it was a very egalitarian organisation.”
Nanjing Night Net

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