WARNING. The following could make long-time locals feel very old.
Twenty-one years ago, we said goodbye to the old Port Macquarie RSL Club (or Rissole to many).
Much more than four concrete walls, the Rissole holds a multitude of memories.
Who could forget the Electric Ballroom’s carpeted bar, sipping Choc Banana Soldiers in The Pavillion or sliding down the escalator in the early hours.
The closure of the Short Street building at 4pm on August 27, 1993 was the end of an era.
To mark the occassion, 7000 people marched from the Rissole to the current Panthers Port Macquarie site in Bay Street.
Our authority on all things Rissole, Janette Hyde said the move was necessary because the RSL Club Limited didn’t own the building and was unable to make necessary improvements related to parking and fire regress.
In its day, the old RSL Club was a magnet for national and international entertainers, with names like AC DC, Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel and Australian Crawl drawing huge crowds into the 126 foot (40 metre) auditorium.
“The club was so instrumental to the community.
“It was seen as a leader, always doing something different,” Mrs Hyde said.
“Many people may remember that the club owned Tuffins Lane and was integral in attracting the State Touch Carnival to Port Macquarie. That’s where it all started.”
Opened by a group of 27 servicemen in 1947, the RSL Club as we remember it featured: the John Oxley Room; Le Petit Escargot; downstairs bistro; Sports Bar, The Pavillion cocktail bar; Don Steele Bar; a gaming room; Nissen Hut function room; Electric Ballroom and; a gym, spa and squash court area known as The Loft. Mrs Hyde explained that the Nissen Hut function room paid homage to war times, as a Nissen hut was a pre-fabricated steel structure designed during World War I and used extensively during World War II.
A little more mystery surrounds the heritage and current whereabouts of the huge deer hunter statue that took pride of place at reception. Is it sitting in the garage of someone you know?
Mrs Hyde also recalled how the club shared a single poker machine with Port Macquarie Golf Club in the early days, with each club using the machine for half the week.
There would also be plenty of locals who remember the POETS lunches in the John Oxley Restaurant.
“Every Friday, we would have long lunches featuring speakers and comedians and its was known as the POETS lunch - ‘P*** off early, tomorrow’s Saturday’,” she explained.
“They were definitely the good old days.”
Can you help?
CAN you help preserve an important part of Port Macquarie's history? Unfortunately, there's little photographic evidence of the Rissole, so we need your help.
Did you celebrate a 21st birthday in the John Oxley Room or get engaged in Le Petit Escargot?
Perhaps you saw Cold Chisel play in the Electric Ballroom, used to train in The Loft or had a mandatory snap with the deer hunter statue at reception? Port Macquarie Historial Society president Debbie Sommers said it was unfortunate, but "we have so few photos of the old RSL Club".
"It's really important that we record our history as well as more contemporary images, because as we all know, they quickly becomes history too," she said.
If you have a story or photos you'd like to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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