Registered clubs are diversifying their offerings as part of an appeal to new audiences and a younger, more hospitality-aware clientele. The revitalisation of the Harbord Diggers Club, a 90-year-old institution located on the iconic headland at Freshwater Beach north of Sydney is an example of such a trend. Owned and operated by Mounties Group, the new Harbord Diggers has managed to generate over 600,000 visits in six months with the highest level of increase in members found in 36-45-year olds.

Fender Katsalidis worked as interior architects on the $200 million project to create what is now a thriving intergenerational hub that sets a global benchmark for community projects.

The new Harbord Diggers provides a diverse facility comprised of a new Ocean Terrace, bars, lounges, restaurants, a bistro, café and kitchens, a children’s play area, a gaming floor, community spaces and an administration centre.

The project also responds to the unique intergenerational needs of the precinct by incorporating function rooms and play areas as well as 96 apartments above the club aimed at seniors.

Fender Katsalidis director Mark Curzon says that clubs are increasingly modernising their venues, with Harbord Diggers leading the charge on cutting-edge design.

“Fender Katsalidis is paving the way for a new wave of design-oriented clubs, with Harbord Diggers setting the standard for how these venues can keep up with the times.
“Club operators in NSW are using good design to enhance the increasingly diverse offering of their venues and maximise site yield on valuable land to help draw a younger demographic.“The design of hospitality spaces in particular is important to the overall atmosphere of a venue and isn’t limited purely to single-standing city restaurants and cafes but certainly extends to complex, mixed-use sites such as these,” he says.

Mounties Group CEO Greg Pickering says Fender Katsalidis’ design is driving the marked increase in visitation and memberships at Harbord Diggers.

“Fender Katsalidis has designed an incredible multi-use entertainment precinct that strategically diversifies our offering across this iconic site,” he says.
“From a business perspective, the mixed-use design represents the future of registered clubs and we are already seeing a return on investment as it brings in new audiences.”

The first stage of the project, which mixes hospitality with residential apartments, was completed in 2018, while stage two (introducing a new fitness and aquatic centre) will arrive in late 2019.

The project acts as a critical connecter and activator of other uses beyond the club. On an urban scale it provides through-site links and activated edges that integrate vertically and horizontally.

Its internal and external planning is based on a village concept; firstly, a covered internal street creates a link from Lumsdaine Drive and the leisure precinct through to Evans street. This ‘eat street’ consists of a variety of restaurants with their own internal and external conditions.

Secondly, a promenade creates an east-west street that includes a café, children’s play zone and a function room. Finally, connected by the two streets, Ocean Square is located at the heart of the plan, with its main central bar providing a multi-directional experience.

With its multiple unique venues and its creation of a new shared civic space and ocean terrace, Harbord Diggers can accommodate a variety of events from Anzac Day observances to moonlight cinemas and outdoor dining.

The project is nothing less than a major contribution to the public amenity of the Freshwater area.

“Clubs are increasingly diversifying their operations in order to stay relevant and continue meeting the needs of the local community,” says ClubsNSW CEO Anthony Ball.
“Harbord Diggers has done this successfully, as have many other clubs which have opened childcare centres, seniors living, medical clinics, entertainment precincts, and even a cancer treatment centre – on club land.
“These club facilities are opening up new revenue streams for registered clubs, ensuring their long-term future so that they can continue to provide services and funding that the public, community groups and charities rely on,” Ball adds.