Coffs Harbour Clubs
1970s and 1980s
Coffs Harbour was a happy town in the 60s to the 90's with lots of work in the many sawmills in the area. Banana plantations covered the slopes around the town. Coffs Harbour a large ply mill and the fishing industry was doing well. The town was growing and there was lots of work for builders and tradesmen. There was no shortage of band work in the clubs which held social nights. Hotels had big crowds in the bars on Thursday and Friday after work. Bands played in many Clubs and Hotels in those times.
Park Beach Bowling Club was a new club and began with just a Bar and a Dance floor. It didn't have a stage.
Sawtell RSL decided to have a Sunday afternoon concert. Johnny Watson had begun to work there as the Deputy Manager. Johnny got on well with everyone and he was keen to make Sawtell RSL a happy place and it was his idea to try the Sunday afternoon concerts. Well from the start it was a big hit. We had a band with Kevin Partridge playing Guitar and Carl Rose played the drums. The Sunday afternoons were a success so Johnny said he would hire a Sydney entertainer and from then on it was a packed house. They were free concerts. I remember there were some "bickering" with members holding seats for their friends. The seniors would bring a thermos for tea and eats. In those days. Saturday nights all the big clubs held dance nights with mainly Old Time and New Vogue. Those clubs would finish at midnight. Over those years, I never saw any bad behaviour in any club and security guards were unheard of. During the Christmas holidays, holidaymakers from the west of the state and Sydney and Brisbane would fill the caravan parks and holiday units. It was a very busy happy time for Coffs Harbour locals and bands.
Coffs Harbour Bowling Club was a popular club through the 70s and 80s as there were many retired people coming to live on this part of the coast. I was in a dance band there and we had a "full house" every Saturday night for Old Time dancing. The "full house" sign read "Full House Members Only" and it would be put up at the main entrance on most Saturday nights about 8.30pm..
On other nights there would be 20 or so "after work" men in the bar, that was all. I asked the Manager, "Percy Miller", would he mind if I bought a young singer "Carol Brady" along to sing on a Friday night. Carol had a lot of talent. Percy said that would be fine with him. I did that and found there was still very little interest from the after-work drinkers but I asked Carol if she had any friends who would like the opportunity to "sing" at the club. She said she did and so she bought them along the following Friday night. Well not only her singing mates turned up but they bought along Aunts and Uncles and family to watch and hear their young singers sing in a real club. l advertised in Tamworth Country Music paper "Capital News" that Country Artists were welcome to perform at the Coffs Bowling Club. It sure paid off for the club and especially for Country Music Artists. We were always booked well ahead. That club was packed full every Friday night. Families could see the best Australian Country Artists free as we ran meat raffles to pay the performers. It cost the club nothing. Country artists Jimmy Little, Chad Morgan, Slim Newton, Shorty Ranger, Auriel Andrews, Keith Blinman, Evelyn Bury, The Bourkenback Boys, Stan Coster, Terry Gordon, Norma Murphy and many others. These nights ran for a number of years. These nights introduced many to Australian Country Music Artists.