From bowling clubs to social and sporting clubs, there are over 1,400 registered clubs in NSW. Despite this, I used to believe that RSL and other registered Clubs were not worth visiting, that they were full of pokies, as well as cheap and nasty food. Over the 10 years since I moved to Sydney, I have realised that some clubs are like this, but many are not. Here are my favourite top 10 in Sydney, in no particular order…
1. Bondi Icebergs Club
Why dine at Icebergs Dining Room upstairs, when Bondi Icebergs Club (as pictured above) has the same panoramic views and at a fraction of the price?! They are located above the famous swimming pool, which overlooks Bondi Beach and is open to the public (closed Thursdays for cleaning). There is a large lap pool and a smaller children’s pool (both of which have lifeguards), as well as a sauna and gym. In addition to the club’s affordable menu, they also serve high tea Mondays to Saturdays.
2. Kirribilli Club
The main drawcard of Kirribilli Club in Milsons Point is its stunning view of the Harbour Bridge and city. There is a balcony with tables and the best views, as well as lots of tables indoors if it’s too hot or the weather’s a bit iffy. They have something for everyone, with trivia on Wednesdays, cheap cocktails on Fridays, a raffle on Fridays and live music & a raffle on Sundays. As well as the main restaurant and bar, there is also a Sports Lounge with 3 huge projector screens, plasmas throughout, a pool table and darts. They offer a courtesy bus from 5.30pm until close Monday to Saturday, and from 4.30pm on Sundays.
3. St George Motor Boat Club
St George Motor Boat Club (SGMBC) in Sans Souci overlooks Kogarah Bay and Georges River and has 270-degree water views, so it is not surprising they chose it to feature in Packed to the Rafters (where Hugh Sheridan’s character worked). It is a large club, with plenty going on. They have live entertainment on weekends, a courtesy bus 7 days a week (it can be conveniently booked online), raffles on Thursdays and Sundays and a special menu for your dog! There are 2 dining areas to choose from; Bay Breeze Cafe and Captain’s Grill Restaurant. The latter offers a 3-course set menu for just $34 Mondays to Thursdays lunch and dinner (except public holidays). SGMBC also has its own marina and several function rooms.
4. The Greens North Sydney
Until November 2014, it was called Norths Bowlo Clubhouse. After a huge make-over, The Greens was born. They have kept the 3 bowling greens, but renovated inside and updated their menus. This summer/autumn, they also have The Cloudy Bay Crustacean Cabana (until 30th April). There is a courtesy bus, with an extremely helpful driver who offers to drive any woman he sees in high heels.
5. UTS Haberfield Club
UTS Haberfield Club also had a recentish (2013) makeover. Overlooking Iron Cove Bay, it is is the perfect place for a bite to eat or a refreshing drink if you are doing the Bay Run/Walk/Cycle. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekends, but only from 11.30am in the week (though there is a limited coffee kiosk outside open from 7am). They even have their own parking (for cars and bicycles), though it is fairly limited. Membership is extremely affordable, at just $10 for 1 year or $25 for 3. On 19th March 2016, they are hosting a candlelight dinner for Earth Hour. Read our recent review here.
6. Sydney Rowing Club
Sydney Rowing Club, the oldest rowing club in NSW, is located in Abbotsford on the Parramatta River. It is just 50m from Abbotsford ferry wharf and the ferry conveniently runs until 10.30pm. Non-members are welcome of course*, but if you do join, you will be in good company with previous members including the first Prime Minister of Australia Sir Edmond Barton and famous Australian poet Banjo Paterson! There are 2 dining options; elegant Dedes and more casual Watergrill. Weekly events include trivia on Thursdays and live entertainment every Sunday arvo from 3-6pm.
7. Manly Skiff Sailing Club
Manly Skiff Sailing Club enjoys enviable views of the harbour and is located conveniently close to Manly ferry wharf. In addition to their location, there are also many other reasons to visit, including their $10 steak on Mondays, 1/2 price pizza on Tuesdays, trivia on Wednesdays and their shuttle bus (which runs Thursdays to Sundays). Jutting out over the harbour, this is a popular venue for weddings and other special occasions.
8. Drummoyne Sailing Club,
Drummoyne Sailing Club, which overlooks Parramatta River and Cockatoo Island, has 2 restaurants; award-winning Ecco Ristorante upstairs and informal Sailor’s Grill downstairs. Both have stunning water views. They have trivia night on Thursdays, as well as meat raffles on Wednesdays and Fridays. See our full review here.
9. Clovelly Bowling Club
Having lived in Clovelly for over 5 years, I love Clovelly Bowling Club. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, there cannot be a better place to place barefoot bowls in the world! You can also pop in for just a drink and bite to eat if you wish, but if you do play lawn bowls, you can use their complimentary barbeque facilities.
10. Australian 18 Footers
The Australian 18 Footers is perfectly located on the Double Bay ferry wharf, giving it 180-degree views of the harbour. The benefit of tits small size is that every table in the restaurant has water views. There is also a deck outside; perfect for summer drinks.
Again, it was hard to just choose 10, so we tried to choose ones in different parts of Sydney. Others that deserve a mention include North Bondi RSL, Sydney Flying Squadron and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (although The Coasters Retreat, at the latter venue, is exclusively for members and their guests).
* Important note, as with all registered clubs, if you live within 5km (as the crow flies) of these clubs you will need to become a member or attend as a guest of a member. If you live more than 5km away, you can sign in as a temporary member.