Coledale RSL reborn with live music

Coledale RSL has been revived by its locals and a strategy to expand its customer base. After 74 years’ trading, the club unexpectedly closed its doors from financial difficulties last December. The NSW South Coast community reeled.

The WWII-era RSL, with help from volunteers reinvented itself by:

  • Connecting with industry organisations like OneMusic and APRA AMCOS for guidance
  • Hosting regular live music – heritage acts as well as emerging acts
  • Connecting with other local entertainment venues to craft a regional ‘tour’ mentality
  • Hosting fortnightly open mic nights with new talent
  • Installing DJs spin decks on the dancefloor on weekends
  • Hosting jazz afternoons on the deck once a month

Patrons enjoying the outdoor area at Coledale RSL.

​An industry leader known for turning venues around, David Lynch (now Operations Manager of the Club) led the volunteers. This included Board member Mel Ellery, local property consultant and former finance executive. Their combined expertise has been essential to the cause.

The Coledale RSL volunteer Board gathered 70 passionate volunteers to refurbish and reopen the local institution in under five months. They reached out for help from music industry organisations.

APRA AMCOS and OneMusic have been supportive in helping us with our licensing, … with investigating what grants are achievable… as a venue it’s good to know (these bodies) are a phone call away for help"

When asked what tips can be shared with other community-run spaces, Mel said:   

"Have a vision of what you want to be known for, what are the gaps to achieving that and start kicking off one milestone at a time. Let members of the community have a voice and don’t stop inviting that voice in.” 

Volunteers of the Coledale RSL Club
The many volunteers of Coledale RSL, 20 minutes north of Wollongong.


Coledale RSL was soon back in business, now with a focus on live music. Keno TVs and pokies made way for a dance floor and stage.

The age demographic has changed with younger patrons and families coming along to enjoy our relaxed environment. When you walk past our venue and hear live music, it’s an instant way to draw people in and share an afternoon.

Big names are rolling onto the live roster with Jim Moginie and the Family Dog performing on August 5, presented by Bombie Bar. Jim Moginie is one of the founding members of Midnight Oil and is also a local to the area. Deborah Conway will also be sharing her memoir in October, presented by Collins Booksellers Thirroul. Find out what's on at Coledale RSL.

Clubs in NSW can get a licence from OneMusic to be able to play background music, as well as add-ons like live music and DJs.

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