The paddleboards have been packed away, and the tools brought out at an Illawarra landmark.

Work has started on the $10.5 million upgrade of the North Wollongong Surf Club and the adjacent protective seawall.

Building upgrades will include state of the art storage and gym facilities, as well as a bistro restaurant, bar and function room for the whole community to enjoy.

North Wollongong Surf Life Saving Club president David Meredith said the new clubhouse will not only provide funding for the club, but ensure the future of surf life-saving in the suburb.

“Hopefully these good facilities will allow us to cater to our junior membership which ranges from 250 to 300 nippers and their parents,” he said.

“The whole idea really is to turn a good percentage of those into patrolling members.”

Wollongong City Council Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the building had gone well past its functioning use-by date, and the upgrade will provide a much-needed boost to the surf life-saving club, as well as local tourism and accessibility options.

“It is a very attractive, well-attended and well-utilised area, not only by locals but visitors as well,” he said.

“We want to make sure the volunteers have the best of the facilities while they do their work of safeguarding the community.”

The project is partly funded by two NSW Government grants: $309,000 towards the new clubhouse from the Surf Club Facility Program, and $4.2 million towards the seawall reconstruction from the NSW Coastal and Estuary Grants program.

Site fencing went up around the clubhouse earlier this month, and will protect community members from walking through a section of the beach in front of the building where work on the new seawall is taking place.

The upgrade is due for completion in mid-2022, in time for the ICU Road World Championships in Wollongong.