Ranelagh Club: past, present and future

Wherever you look there is a wonderful view. There will be tennis courts, bowling greens, croquet lawns and a cricket oval.
— Frankston and Somerville Standard Fri 13 Mar 1925

Steeped in a rich social history extending back to the 1920s, Mount Eliza’s Ranelagh Club holds a special place in the hearts, minds and social calendars of many local families, past and present. From the moment you turn off the historic Tuart tree adorned Rosserdale Crescent and head down the driveway, promise beckons.

With a breathtaking outlook and outstanding facilities, Ranelagh Club is an incredible and generous social and sporting asset for the people of Mount Eliza.

Despite the grey sky that was hovering over Ranelagh beach on the day I met with some of the team at Ranelagh, the view extending beyond the Ranelagh Club gates was truly splendid. A sense of holidays immediately sprang to mind – it felt like fun and possibilities lay ahead.

In this article, we’ll touch on the past, focus on the present and look towards the future of our very own Ranelagh Club.

Ranelagh Club: a past of glowing social page reflections

...the view alone is enough to ensure entertainment all day long.
— Table Talk, Ladies Letter Toorak, Thursday 1 April 1926.

There is a wealth of history available online on the renowned Walter Burley Griffin designed Ranelagh Estate. You’ll find a great summary of the Ranelagh Club’s history on the website – Ranelagh Club > About Us > History.  

Back in 1925 Ranelagh Estate property owners were automatically granted membership to the Ranelagh Club. As far back as 1928 membership has been extended to non-Ranelagh Estate property owners too. Today, Ranelagh Club has members from as far away as Dubai, Noosa and Melbourne!

The first general meeting for the Ranelagh Club was held on 18 August 1925 and politician - later Australian Prime Minister - Sir Robert Gordon Menzies was elected to be one of the first committee members. The Age newspaper was a fan of writing up about social gatherings happening at Ranelagh Club, starting with the inaugural general meeting.

As indicative of the intended spirit of this Club, afternoon tea was served at the same time as the business of the meeting.
— The Age, Thursday 20 August 1925.

Print publication ‘Table Talk’ was a popular Melbourne social journal in the 1920s. Here is an extract reflecting on newcomer to the social scene, Mount Eliza’s Ranelagh Club:

...everything all round is taking on that look of promising homeliness that is most encouraging.

It looks as if in it [Ranelagh Club] we are to have our first country club on the American lines, which make them such wonderful resorts of enjoyment. It has all the essentials. Already there is a lovely club house...
— Table Talk, Ladies Letter Toorak Thu 27 August 1925 and 1 April 1926.

Bi-monthly dances and New Years Eve celebrations held at the Ranelagh Club were favourably reviewed in Melbourne’s social pages. Here are just a couple of the many examples of glowing reports and descriptive accounts of the who’s who:

A charming and most friendly dance was held at the Ranelagh Club House...the large double room where the dancing was held was decorated with groups of arum lilies arranged in tall vases and bowls, with dark brown bracken leaves, brown grasses and reeds artistically grouped in bowls...
— Table Talk, Thu 26 Aug 1926
Mrs R G Menzies wore a pretty silver lace frock made over the new moutarde colour, with a spray of shaded flowers in rich autumn yellow tones at one side.
— Table Talk, Thu 1 Apr 1926 - Ranelagh Club Dance

Ranelagh Club’s tennis courts were formally opened on 15 October 1926 (and reported in Table Talk, Thu 9 Sep 1926).

As we approach Ranelagh Club’s 90th Anniversary of Incorporation it felt like perfect timing to catch up with some of the Ranelagh team to talk about Ranelagh Club today and what the future of the Club looks like.

Ranelagh Club today

An impeccably run social and community hub for everyone

Run by members for members, Ranelagh Club has a healthy members list and welcomes more. At the time of visiting the Club, Ranelagh was in the midst of membership renewals. The current numbers stood at around 700 memberships, and around 1,200 people, with capacity to accommodate many more.

A welcome and accessible annual membership

You do not need to be a resident of Ranelagh Estate to become a member. All are very welcome.

Compared to multi-purpose bay side clubs closer to the city, annual memberships are pleasantly affordable.

An annual membership for a whole family costs about half of a typical gym membership for just one person!

To find out what your membership entitles you to, visit Ranelagh Club > Memberships.

What does being a member of Ranelagh Club mean?

What stood out to me as I chatted with the team was the benefits of having access to the six floodlit mod grass tennis courts; the Clubhouse dining and facilities including a pool table out on the balcony overlooking Ranelagh beach; the boathouses with BBQs down on the beach, and storage for stand up paddle boards, motor boats and kayaks.

There are also social events such as wine and book club gatherings and member sailing programs. A stunning backdrop makes the Clubhouse a popular venue for weddings.

Members often form new friendships and reconnect with people they may not have crossed paths with for some time. A member that was dining with a couple of their guests shared how friendly and welcoming Ranelagh Club was and talked about the opportunities that being a member offered.

The more you get involved and participate in the activities on offer, the more opportunity you have of meeting some great people and sharing great experiences.

Convenient parking is also available to members on each level of the spectacular Ranelagh Club site. If you’re playing tennis, you can park right outside the courts. If you’re bringing guests to the Clubhouse for an event, or to enjoy lunch on the balcony you can park right outside the entrance for easy access.

Better still, in the heat of summer when you’ve packed a picnic to enjoy down on the beach; you can drive right down to the beach boxes. That means no traipsing up the hill after a refreshing dip in the bay!

Run by members for members with a foundation built on integrity

Ranelagh Club is run by members for members. It upholds a strong reputation for its integrity and transparency.

The Club is in safe hands. We’re in a strong, ongoing and safe financial position. It is well governed. For example, a business case is needed for each option, recommendation and decision that the committee makes.

On such a stunning but physically challenging piece of land that drops off to the sea, the Committee takes safety seriously. For example, the Ranelagh Yacht Squadron is a group of trained, insured and Working with Children certified contributors.

Upholding Ranelagh Club’s historic reputation as an impressive destination

The recently refurbished Clubhouse has a Classic Hamptons inspired interior decor. It feels fresh and welcoming and complements the impressive outlook beyond the balcony. One of the Ranelagh committee members fondly describes the refurbish as being as frantic as popular renovator series, The Block.

“We had a limited budget and ten days to complete it,” she said.

“Thanks to the Committee and our Treasurer, Ranelagh Club’s finances are in good health. It keeps us all in check. We’ve worked hard to ensure we have the best prices for everything you see.”

A stunning ceiling to floor sheer grey curtain creates a private dining room destination with access out to the balcony. It’s an inviting space to celebrate a special occasion.

The arcade game table and pool table appeal to tweens and teenage members that want to be near adults, but not necessarily with them.

With its idyllic setting and the opportunities that come with that, the Committee has worked hard to establish Bistro at Ranelagh as a destination for dining. Ocean View Caterers are into their second year of delivering excellence in menu quality that showcases local produce and a wonderful selection of wines.

The future of Ranelagh Club

Ranelagh Club has evolved with the community and the Committee is actively working on a strategy for the future. With a passionate, gender balanced and visionary team complemented by members that are keen to actively get involved, the future looks fantastic for this very special site.

A Kayak Club and Kayak Safari is a couple of initiatives in flight. Just recently, the Club has invested in two kayak trolleys. The trolleys accommodate all sized kayaks for all to make use of. 

The Committee is also considering looking to more structured professional offerings such as bringing in more tennis coaches, for example.

While building a community together is part of the satisfaction of being a member, not everyone has the time to actively pitch in.

There are few places around the world that offer what Ranelagh Club can in the majestic setting it is located within a community.

We’ve often had dolphins come and play. We’ve spotted a pod of Orcas. Boating in the bay, tennis in the evenings and the most amazing sunsets, where else in the world can you access this just down the road?

A note from Ranelagh Club President, Brian Michie

The Ranelagh Club is arguably the Mornington Peninsula’s premium sporting, life-style and social club and is located on the beach in Mount Eliza.

With summer almost here and shortly celebrating its 90th Birthday with an upcoming Gala Party, now is the time to consider becoming a member and enjoying our many events, fine and casual dining whilst enjoying stunning views of the bay and the city skyline. Catering for tennis, yachting, golf (Ranelagh is now a registered club with Golf Australia), walking, cycling, book-club groups and more, we look forward to warmly welcoming new members and returning members.

As one of the most affordable clubs on the peninsula, The Ranelagh Club is a not for profit organisation that aims to make your membership go further. With a new committee and huge enthusiasm, we look forward to warmly welcoming families, couples and singles to a fun, vibrant and first class club experience.
— Brian Michie, Ranelagh Club President


Ten tips to maximise your Ranelagh Club membership

Part of your membership includes an opportunity to invite friends to join you at the Club throughout the year. Here are ten ideas for getting the most of your annual Ranelagh Club membership:

  • Plan to celebrate Australia Day with beach tennis and fireworks as you look across to the city.
  • Join competition tennis and social tennis.
  • Pack a picnic basket and take it down to the beach boxes – invite some friends.
  • Enjoy a summer BBQ on the beach by using the beach boxes and BBQ facilities.
  • Drop by for a picnic style work lunch break on one of the new tables next to the tennis courts.
  • Book the tennis courts, invite some friends and enjoy a social afternoon. Bring some drinks and a cheese platter to enjoy on the picnic tables and watch the sunset together.
  • Book your next sporting, school or community club celebration at the Clubhouse or on the beach.
  • Use your membership to invite school parents for a Friday lunch in the Clubhouse. You just need one member to sign guests in.
  • Store your stand up paddle boards or Kayak’s at the Club so you can simply wheel them out and paddle off shore.
  • Never sailed before but yearning to find your sea legs in the safety of the bay? The Ranelagh Yacht Squadron is a very safe ‘walk-in’ location where you can learn to know your port side from your star board.

To find out more about Ranelagh Club

w: www.ranelagh.com.au

t: 03 9787 0265

e: admin@ranelagh.com.au


Historic references from digitised newspaper sources


Ranelagh Club website


Images supplied by Ranelagh Club

Article funded by Vicki Sayers, Live Love Mount Eliza | Written by Julie Pearce, Content Services Melbourne