This is our story........

In 1838 Governor Gipps instructed the Surveyor General to make a survey for a ‘Maritime Township’ at Brisbane Water.  A map was produced and titled The Township at Point

Frederick in 1839.  The then Governor Gipps used his prerogative and gave

Gosford to the township.

The early 1900s - looking over Gosford towards Narara Creek, the site Gosford RSL Club is now located.

1924 Anzac Commemoration.

Anzac Day Gosford 1939.

The settlement grew slowly and by 1841 had five houses and a population of 21.

The town had seen many changes in the early days from lime burning and grazing to the booming industry years of the 1880s which brought shipyards and orchards to the area.  Before too long, the citrus orchards began to dominate the local farming, thanks to climate and soil.  In fact, it was such a success that by the late 20s, the district was producing 34 per cent of the State’s citrus crop.  The booming years during the 1880s really laid the foundation of

Gosford, a centre of rapid growth and development. 

The key to it all was the construction of the railway line from Sydney which brought

hundreds of visitors each year to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and glorious beaches. 

By the time World War II had ended, Gosford was quickly becoming a part of Sydney’s

metropolitan area.



The end of the war also began an era of the RSL Club in Gosford – now a cornerstone in Gosford’s history.  It was founded by Earnest White, an ex-AIF Captain in the First World War who was born and bred in town.

The very first RSL members in the area met in the Brisbane Water District Club which was at the rear of the Anglican Church in Broadwater Avenue and was built by the First World War Diggers in 1921.  The land was donated by Dr James Paul who requested no intoxicating liquor was to be sold on premises.  But that didn’t stop the thirsty men from getting their long earned drink each night.  They simply bought coupons which were exchanged for beer or spirits at the bar.

Apparently, about 90 percent of returned World War II soldiers joined the League in those days and were proud to wear the badge that neither wealth, nor influence, nor social standing can purchase.

It wasn’t easy, but as time passed, they began to see the beginning of the club we know today.  Their toughest battle by far, was the fight for a liquor licence which began in the late 50s. 

Although the Secretary, Owen Gannon, an ex-Airforce bloke, encouraged many of the members to dip into their pockets to help see the licensed club off the ground, it couldn’t be achieved that easily.  To make matters worse, there were plenty of members who preferred the ‘sly grog’ served from the basement of the old house in Broadwater Avenue.

In 1960, about 60 members threw in a couple of quid each and started the club’s first licensed premises in an empty Ford garage in Mann Street owned by Fred Richardson.

The Ford Garage Gosford

The Foundation Committeemen formed in 1959-60

The luxuries of today such as air-conditioning and carpet were something only to be dreamt about in the early days.  The new club was a dirty old building, really a garage, with corrugated iron walls, tarred floor and no ceiling – just the rafters in the roof.  It’s unlikely that anyone would have realised how much this club would grow and develop into one of the finest clubs on the Central Coast.

The members knew that it was time to form the first committee of the club, 20 men took the challenge, headed up first by the President, Bert Ashwell,

The women had already started their own auxiliary some years earlier.  Only nine women attended the first meeting in 1949 which was held in the Brisbane Water District Club and chaired by the Sub-Branch President Mr Errol Hickey.  By the time the first meeting was held in

November that year, the auxiliary had already grown in size and could boast a bank balance of twenty pounds thanks to a donation from the Sub-Branch.


The women who founded the auxiliary were totally dedicated to the work of the RSL. 

The first President, Mrs Ivy Keevers, held this position for over thirty years and eventually

received an Order of Australia Medal in 1987 for her dedication and service to the RSL. 

Similarly, Mrs Pearl Elliott and Mrs Evelyn Wilson each held the position for over twenty years.

Mrs Ivy Keevers O.A.M

During the 60s the Women’s Auxiliary members served hot lunches every day at the club in Mann Street, while the branch endeavoured to obtain a liquor licence.

While the club was looking for new premises, a block of land was purchased on the corner of Donnison Street and Henry Parry Drive. Although the land was about  four thousand quid, the club had yet to pay any money for it when the  premises in Mann Street was offered to them.  Bert Ashwell, who was then a real estate agent, sold the Donnison Street land for a profit without paying a cent on the land to begin with.



After much hard work and alterations, the new club in Mann Street was ready to be opened and was finally granted a liquor licence in 1960.  The club was off to a good start and only three years later began the first of many major alterations.  The club that had started with a membership of less than 180 a few years ago, had now formed into a bustling metropolis with over 900 members.

Ladies were not allowed to join the club until much later, which was ironic considering that the Womens’ ’ Auxiliary had been raising funds for the RSL work for the past 11 years.

The Club made yet another important step in its progress in 1962 by purchasing the property adjacent to the club which was previously

occupied by C H Brown and Son, a furniture retailer.

By 1966 Gosford RSL Club was really starting to move toward a new decade.  For Mr W D Davis, in his first year as President saw membership hit the 1500 mark.  After extensions and alterations, members could now enjoy Indoor Bowls, Snooker, Billiards, Squash, Table Tennis, Darts or dine in one of the restaurants that had been

established.

Although the club was beginning to progress quickly with more renovations in 1967 and 1968 costing more than $350,000, parking began to be a problem which plagued the club for many years.  The club even considered building a multi-deck car park at the rear of the club but the cost was astronomical.  The remodelling of the club ranked it as one of the most modern of its kind in Australia and was officially opened by the Governor Sir Roden Cutler.  The success and expansion of the late sixties was soon overcome by the death of the club’s Foundation President and Patron, Mr Bert Ashwell.

Finally in 1968, ladies were permitted in the club at all hours however, they were still refused entry into the Members’ Bar area of the Billiards room.  The trading hours were also extended this year and the new gym was opened.  Gosford RSL Club was now one of the biggest clubs on the Central Coast with almost 2000 members and a turnover of more than $320,000..

Ralph Mortimer replaced W.D. Davis as President in 1972 but after only a few months in office, disaster struck.



On January 22nd, 1973, a sudden fire outbreak quickly swept through the luxurious Gosford RSL Club causing about half a million dollars in damage.

The building was gutted within minutes and was beyond restoration.  41 poker machines were destroyed and little more than a few bottles of spirits, a small amount of cash and a few records survived the inferno.

On January 22nd, 1973, a sudden fire outbreak quickly swept through the luxurious Gosford RSL Club causing about half a million dollars in damage.

The building was gutted within minutes and was beyond restoration.  41 poker machines were destroyed and little more than a few bottles of spirits, a small amount of cash and a few records survived the inferno.

One of the saddest moments for the management and members of the club was when they discovered that the club was insured against fire but not against loss of profits in rebuilding.

Since the fire, the new Board of Directors met constantly to investigate numerous possibilities for the re-establishment of the club.  Less than 30 days after the fire damaged the premises, the members overwhelmingly endorsed the Board to purchase the Galaxy Motel at West Gosford at a cost of approximately $1 million.

The motel was located on the 10 acres of land with direct access to the Narara Creek on the East, the Brisbane Water to the South and fronting directly onto the Pacific Highway.  Not only did the land have ample room for expansion, but it also solved the club’s parking problems.  It seemed perfect and history shows it most certainly was the move of the decade.

Originally, the area of the Galaxy Motel site was owned by George and Agnes Fagan who built a home on this land and called it ‘Oak Haven’.


The property was later bought by a Hungarian emigrant, Zoltan Kamenitzky who built the motel he called “The Galaxy”.

There were some criticisms regarding the move to the west of the town.  Many thought the site was too far from the centre of town but little did they know how Gosford would expand over the coming years.

It was decided that the 34 room motel would run as a separate identity from the club while plans for a new complex were being developed.  The Motel seemed perfect already.  It could

accommodate 100 people and seat 170 in the dining room – terrific potential for future

development of the club no matter what they decided to do.

Since the relocation, the club has never looked back.  Work began on a new mixed lounge, members’ bar and dining room.  Meanwhile, the remnants of the clubrooms in Mann Street were sold for almost half a million dollars.

The new Gosford RSL Club opened on 18th of July, 1973 only six months after the fire in the old clubrooms.  Already, the occupancy of the Motel was around 98 per cent and new members were pouring into the club daily, many just to see the new premises.


Not long after the club’s 5th anniversary at the new site, plans were under way to extend the club premises.  The extensions costing $150,000 would extend the auditorium, kitchen and bars as well as improving the reception area.  The amazing recovery from ashes to thriving growth was evident when the final extensions were completed in 1980.

Since the fire in 1973, the Gosford RSL Club had gradually grown to become a focal point of West Gosford and become known as Gosford’s most friendly club.

The club management’s dedication and determination to improve the club was unwavering with the decision to amalgamate with A and C Bowling Club in 1986 and become another valued addition to the growing RSL complex.  The Bowling Club was sold to the Gosford Race Club in 2001.


While demolishing the old Galaxy Motel, the concept of a retirement village on site was born.  With the construction of the luxurious 49 unit motel continuing as planned, the concept of the retirement village never died in the eyes of the club’s management.

After much research and investigation, it was evident that a retirement village could be built once more land was purchased nearby.  With 13 acres, plans began for the new village.  Word of the RSL’s plans soon spread and interest in the village was overwhelming.

The village then  known as Gosford RSL Leisure Living, promised to be one of the most exciting new retirement living developments on the Central Coast.

Leisure Living Retirement Village now has 143 independent living units, 94 Aging in place units and a Community Centre.  In 2006 Gosford RSL donated the land on which Leisure Living is built to Gosford RSL Leisure Living Ltd, valued at $8.9million

For the first time in the club’s history, it was becoming a centre that totally serviced the needs of all its members.  The new Galaxy Motel was opened in 1986 and paved the way for the continuing stages of the retirement village.  In essence, the entire project was a successful

mixture of a total commitment by the management and Board of Directors to ensure the club’s early dreams became a reality.

Gosford RSL Club purchased the Wyoming Butcher shop in 1990, and after four years trading the West Gosford Butchery opened at West Gosford Shopping Centre.  In 2001, an offer was received to purchase the Butcher shop.  The lease on the shop was surrendered.

The determination of management to develop the club into a club for everyone was evident in the number of sub-groups available to members.  From swimming, bowls, billiards and snooker, fishing and darts, there was sure to be a group to suit everyone’s tastes.  These sub-groups continue today.  Gosford RSL Club holds an annual Club Person of the Year Awards, where Sub Clubs are acknowledged for their contribution to the community.

Between 1992 and 2006 there were  a number of minor renovations, improvements and updates to the club and the motel in order to better serve the needs of club patrons and motel guests.

In line with best practice, endeavours were  made  to reduce the club’s carbon footprint by making the most environmentally friendly choices, recycling, observing water restrictions, not wasting energy resources and, where possible, choosing the ‘greenest’ option available.

In 2006 a major renovation and refurbishment was undertaken at a cost of $4.5 million.

The capital works undertaken provided a new lease of life for Gosford RSL. The open, contemporary feel attracted new customers, in particular, families. The outdoor areas were also important additions given the progressive introduction of non smoking legislation in clubs.

The success of this work  helped Gosford RSL to manage the negative impacts of total smoking bans and increased gaming tax.

In 2008 ClubsNSW awarded Gosford RSL Club the Best Club Development Award—Medium Clubs (relating to the 2006 renovation) and Best Club Gaming Venue Award—Medium Clubs


In 2012 Gosford RSL purchased the Ashwood Motel located at 73 Central Coast Hwy West Gosford

In the following eight years Gosford RSL Club had progressively grown its patronage, membership to 25,000 members, revenue and profitability to the point where it became apparent that expansion would be necessary. Initially, the Board and Management considered a further extension of the existing building, a plan that progressed through to a DA approval in late 2016. During this planning process, however, the Board and Management raised concerns about the efficacy of the concept due to the inherent failings of the current building which would not be, and could not be, addressed via renovation or extension.

The two most significant problems with the existing build are the state of the building itself and its location on the property. The building suffers from poor planning and design, having been added to over the years to the point where the layout is inefficient and ineffective. The facility is challenging for patrons to navigate and for staff to work in, with just one example being that the ‘loading dock’ is at the opposite end of the building to the kitchen. The age of the building and ad-hoc nature of extensions has led to a dilapidated roof structure, with many different forms and lines, creating incessant, untraceable leaking. Further, the revision of Central Coast Flood Management plans means that any future construction would require a significant increase in floor height, resulting in a very impractical floorplate.

The problem with the position of the building on the site is that it creates a blockage in the middle of the site which effectively retards future development by inhibiting any possible traffic flow to create connectivity between future business units or activities. The building is set well back from the Central Coast Highway resulting in reduced visibility and a ‘street presence’ consisting of a car park. Finally, the current building makes inefficient use of available land due to its sprawling single-story construction.

The result of the critical review of the existing building and proposed extension was to consider a range of different development options. Extensive consultation and master planning works were undertaken culminating in a concept to construct a new building to house the Club, on the site of the current northern carpark. This option presented the advantages of being able to maintain trade in the current building throughout construction, creating a commanding street presence, consolidating the footprint of the Club in a multi-storey building and freeing up the remainder of the site for future development.

2018 The Gosford RSL Board and Management agreed to commence production of it’s own beer. The equipment was purchased and a small brewing kitchen was set up at the Ashwood Motel.   Oak Haven Brewing Co commenced production of Oak Haven Slygrog and Bolthole Ales in 2019.

OakHaven gosford rsl

The Club’s immediate vision was for Oak Haven to become the beer of choice amongst existing patrons who traditionally would choose a big name brand favourite.

Ultimately, the long term goal was to produce a range of crafted versions of traditional beer recipes that genuinely provide a compelling reason for new and existing patrons to choose Gosford RSL over a competitor venue.  The ales gained popularity and before long larger vats were required to produce higher volumes to keep up with demand.  The Head Brewer continues to create new award winning craft ales to offer variety to members and guests.


2019 Gosford RSL Club’s Plans Approved

The Gosford RSL Club Development Application to build a new Club was approved by the Joint Regional Planning Panel on Wednesday 4 September 2019.

The visionary plan, which will see the new Clubhouse built on the current carpark adjacent to Central Coast Highway, has been designed to be a significant building marking West Gosford as the “Gateway to Gosford and the Central Coast”.  It is also a statement of confidence by the Club’s Directors in the future of Gosford and the wider area which the Club serves.

The Development Application was lodged in March 2018 and Mr Cooper reported that Council staff were very supportive and collaborative in assisting the Club and its planning team to address any potential issues which might prevent planning approval.  In the end, Council recommended that the DA be approved and the JRPP agreed with the sentiment, reaching a unanimous decision to approve the DA.  Panel members congratulated the Club and their architects on the outstanding design aesthetics and the benefits that the development would deliver to the community.

Mr Cooper reported that it has been a complex and thorough process, with 4 years of research, consultation and planning, to get to this point. 


April 29, 2022 - Construction to commence on Gosford RSL Redevelopment

Celebrations are in order as Gosford RSL forges ahead in transforming their adored RSL club into a landmark building and a stand-out venue for the Gosford region. 

Uniquely designed by WMK Architecture, with construction by local contractor North Construction & Building, the $45 million upgrade will see the club transformed into a contemporary space that embraces and builds community, one that is accessible and encourages each and every member and guest to find a space they're comfortable in.

The 3-storey ultra-modern venue will feature a distinctive porte cochere entry, RSL museum and reception servicing both the RSL and the adjoining motel on the ground floor. The first floor will contain a cafe, lounge, bar, multiple indoor and outdoor dining options, kids play area, and teenage retreat.  The second floor will showcase sophisticated conference and event spaces, sports bar and brewery. An additional 154 car parking spaces will be added on site to accommodate the expected increase in patron numbers.

“We are incredibly excited to bring this project to life after many years of planning and delays caused by the recent pandemic.” states Gosford RSL Club CEO, Russell Cooper. “Our Club has gone from strength to strength over the past decade with our popularity demanding significant expansion. After reviewing many options, the decision was made to construct an entirely new venue which will be a stunning building marking the gateway to Gosford and the Central Coast. We are a parochial local business and it means the world to us to be able to create a venue that our community will enjoy and be proud of whilst also ensuring we are able to continue supporting our community and providing outstanding entertainment, hospitality and employment opportunities for many years to come. The fact that we are able to partner with a successful and capable local builder in North Construction & Building is the icing on the cake. We can’t wait to welcome our members, guests, staff and local community into the new Gosford RSL Club!”

Equally as excited are local award-winning contractor, North Construction & Building, who have been tracking this project since its conception.

“This is a very special project for us,” stated North Managing Director, Matthew Cook. “Not only is it a significant year for North, celebrating our 35-year Anniversary, but we also now get to celebrate being awarded our largest community construction project to date.”

The Gosford RSL Redevelopment represents more than just another building project for North.

“Our site teams and subcontractors live locally and have been enjoying the club’s facilities for many years,” expressed Cook. “Many have celebrated significant family events at the club’s restaurant and function rooms and continue to visit regularly. This is North continuing to build in the community and help create the “Gateway to Gosford and the Central Coast.” 

Construction is expected to commence in June 2022 with anticipated completion late 2023. The existing RSL Club will remain operational throughout construction.