Committee For Lorne: The Lorne Aquatic and Angling Club

February 16, 2024 BY

Any history should always try to start at the beginning — though try telling that to the woke-historians who are sadly attempting to fit history into their own virtuous image! The beginning — for the Lorne Aquatic and Angling Club [LAAC] — harkens back to a grand old Lorne guest house named “Gracedale”.

Many may not know it, but the core of their beloved ‘Anglers’ or ‘A-team’ is the old café and kitchen wing of Gracedale, which, when the guest house ceased to trade, was relocated to Point Grey to create the first LAAC clubhouse.

As an interesting historical aside, Gracedale was not the only Lorne building to relocate. The Anglican Church was moved on roller logs from one end of Mountjoy Parade to the other some decades earlier, while the old Manifold home ‘Pentlands’ that became Lorne’s first hospital was moved lock, stock, and barrel to Fern Avenue to make way for our larger, more modern hospital.

Gracedale Guest House once stood at #1 Clissold Street


Gracedale was originally built by Bill and Elizabeth Clissold and their son Frank on the commanding rise that looks down over the Erskine Bridge. It stood where Lorne Community Connect and the Community House [previously The Fig Tree House] stand now. Its neighbour, Cora Lynn Guest House, still occupies the opposite corner but has long since been renovated and transformed into apartments. Most will know the spot — it is where Graeme Wilkie’s beloved and buxom ‘Cora and Lynn’ ladies now welcome visitors to Lorne.

It has been difficult to find an exact date for the construction of Gracedale and its café/kitchen wing, but a Winchelsea Shire Council minute from June 1920 records that Mr C W Farran, the Shire Engineer at the time, reported: ‘… the work at Gracedale, Lorne, will be completed during the month’. If all sections of the building were ‘completed’ at the same time, then the core of our old girl may well have recently turned 100.

Early photo of the original Gracedale property.

For those with a historical leaning, it is nice to think that a small part of Gracedale lives on to this day at the LAAC — it is the ‘western end’ with the bar and door entrances — though several sensitive and ‘in-keeping’ additions have grown the club to its current footprint. Many wish it could remain as the int

when Clissold Street continued over a non-existent lower Otway Street to join Mountjoy Pde.

imate, welcoming, and historical old girl it so clearly is, though the on-again, off-again redevelopment of Point Grey threatens to sweep the Point Grey site clean of all traces of ‘old Lorne’.

The LAAC was inaugurated on 12th February 1960. The first sod on the current site was turned in early 1961 by Alan Alsop, Len Wilson, and Rex Baldry. The relocated Gracedale building now had a new owner. For those interested, there is a lovely old photo of this sod-turning moment on the wall in the clubhouse — it hangs among an eclectic collection of old Ocean Road photos that are well worth pausing to enjoy with a beer or wine in hand.

A winch stood out the front atop a solid concrete block at the head of a ramp used for launching and retrieving boats. As it turned out, the ramp proved impractical and dangerous, especially in rough seas, so a second ramp was built alongside. While the second ramp had a milder gradient, it was also difficult to use and was removed in the early 2000s. GORCAPA recently renovated the original ramp as a ‘swimmer’s ramp’ for the pier to pub ocean swimmers to use. Meanwhile, the boat launch site was relocated to its current, more sheltered channel closer to the point.

For many years, the club only opened at weekends and relied on volunteer staff. The local fishermen and tradies watered at “The Fisherman’s Bar” at the Grand Pacific Hotel just up the hill [NB: the 2024 renovations at the Pacific have recently uncovered the original Fisherman’s Bar sign on the side of the building — you will see it as you turn the corner from Mountjoy Parade into the Ocean Road above the pier.

The modern Aquatic club is now one of the fastest growing in Victoria.

From the late ’60s to the ’80s, The Fisherman’s Bar was swept up in the thrust to gentrify Lorne and promote it as an upmarket destination. When the previously low-priced beers rocketed, a move was forced onto the locals — first to the lower bar at the Lorne, then, when the same thing happened, to the Anglers.

In 1998, the clubhouse was extended, but leaving the ‘Old Gracedale’ component intact. A tractor shed [now a store room] and a fish-cleaning room were added, and a year later, in 1999, the Bill Castle barbeque was built. The latter now famously offers free sausages on Friday nights and is the envy of the coast.

The open/closed/open/closed/then seasonal “Lazarus Lounge” beer garden has become hugely popular in the balmy days of summer … though many members are baffled and annoyed by the on/off/on/off GORCAPA approval and licensing process. In a word … silly!

Above and beyond the social aspect of the club is the primary purpose of the LAAC — after all, it is an Angling Club. Indeed, it is reputedly the most active in Victoria. Its popularity has increased dramatically over the last few years and now boasts nearly 3,000 members.

Ten fishing competitions are held each year, for which a unique but practical judging system ensures that only one fish can be weighed in, with the angler choosing the fish to have weighed. Non-boat anglers receive more points than boat anglers.

The Anglers, where beer prices remain low and affordable, remains the last and most treasured haven for the locals. Sited in the old Port of Lorne precinct along with the Fishing Co-op, the hub of the once-vibrant couta fishing industry, it helps cradle the memories and history of Old Lorne in its hands.

Along with the Lorne Dolphins Football and Netball Club, the LAAC is local Lorne’s social hub. Membership is cheap, simple, and online. The club is open seven days a week in the warmer months and six days a week [closed Tuesdays] over winter. It is blessed with a fantastic full-time manager [Hutch] and many casual bar staff [with only a little nepotism].

‘The Anglers’ [or ‘the A-Team’ as many locals call it] is a true slice of laid-back, friendly, coastal heaven that the Lorne community are determined to fight tooth and nail to protect in any way it can.

John Agar

Feature Writer

Hooded Plover Update

Thank you, Lorne! In what seems close to a miracle the two Hooded Plover Chicks have fledged. As most people will now know, the Hooded Plover is an endangered beach nesting bird. For the first time in recorded history, two of these small birds moved to Lorne to try their chances at successfully raising offspring after successive failures down the road at Moggs Creek. And thanks to their diligent and brave parents and the wonderful community of Lorne, visitors as well, nine weeks on, the miraculous has happened.

Lorne chicks at 25 days old. Photos taken by trained volunteer in accordance with Birdlife Australia Guidelines.

Thank you GORCAPA, the Lorne Police, the Committee for Lorne, Friends of Lorne, the Mantra and all the first-time volunteers who have joined the Friends of the Hooded Plover Surf Coast to prevent this important species from tipping into local extinction.

A word from the Chairman

It looks like the hooded plover protection project has been a resounding success with our Lorne chicks taking flight this week. It is certainly an historic moment for our town to host the first chicks of this endangered species in 20 years. While I am sure more will be written about the birds, including their genders and names, I just want to acknowledge our small band of volunteer plover protectors who have spent many hours on the beach over the last few weeks, gently guiding people around the protection zone and answering questions, and to thank the many locals and visitors who have adjusted their daily routines to avoid the restricted area. Mr and Mrs Plover you are welcome back anytime, but please don’t nest next to the Surf Club in early January!

As we head towards the end of our (official) summer, our town continues to host major events. Last weekend we saw some spectacular action in the Victorian Surf Rowing League (VSRL) championships and this weekend Lorne hosts the Australian championships from Thursday to Sunday with an expected 4,000+ competitors and support crew. While these events create some traffic and parking congestion, they provide a great boost to our local economy and we welcome them.

The Aquatic Club has a couple of upcoming events to put in your diary:

· Saturday February 17, Blues music from 4-7pm. Anglers’ musical director Jim has secured one of the best blues bands around in the Blues Sunday Blues Band. No restrictions on visitors, all welcome.

· Friday March 1, the home-grown tomato competition with prizes for the biggest, smallest, funniest shape and best taste. Always a fun night.

On Saturday February 24 the Lorne Country Club (fondly known as the Powder Puffs) take on the Aquatic Club (the Seaweed Sniffers) in their annual challenge for the prized trophy, currently held by the Aquatic Club. It is a fun event catering for golfers of all abilities, followed by refreshments and awards at the Aquatic Club. As might be expected, the Aquatic Club are scratching for numbers. If you are interested, no matter what your allegiance, please register at the Club bar.

Sunday February 25 is Clean-Up Australia Day in Lorne. If you are able to spare a couple of hours to help keep our beaches, parks and waterways clean, please meet at the Aquatic Club from 7.30am onwards.

This Saturday our Lorne Cricket team play their last home-and-away game at Stribling Reserve. They are sitting comfortably in second place but have their sights on the top spot as they head towards finals. Please come along and support them. The game starts at noon. Good luck boys!


John Higgins – Chairman

Lorne Ward Events Calendar


  • 18 Deans Marsh Market, local food growers, producers and crafts people

Deans Marsh Reserve 10am-2pm

  • 24 Castle & Candle Competition

6-9pm at St George River


  • 10 Lorne Aquatic & Angling Club – Major Fishing Competition No 2

Weigh cut off 12.30pm. Free roast lunch for competitors, $10 non-fishing members.

  • 17 Deans Marsh Festival, Live music, local harvest, market stalls, dog jumping, kids events and much more

10 am – 6pm at Deans Marsh Reserve.

  • 28-13/4 Photographic Exhibition, at Lorne Community Connect

1st prize $1,000, 2nd prize $500 submissions close 19 January 2024

  • 30 Lorne Market

9-4pm https://www.lornemarkets.com/

  • 31 Lorne Aquatic & Angling Club – Major Fishing Competition No 3

Weigh cut off 12.30pm. Free roast lunch for competitors, $10 non-fishing members

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