You may recognise the Australian flag. Here it is flying over Main Beach.
There are also thousands of red and yellow flags that flutter in the seabreeze on Australian beaches all over Australia…put there by our volunteer lifesavers.
The voluntary surf lifesaver movement originated in Australia in 1907 after drownings at local beaches in Sydney. The rather quaint name, New South Wales Surf Bathing Association, was the service’s first name. Now the association is known as Surf Life Saving Australia. There are 350 surf lifesaving clubs patrolling over 400 beaches in Australia.
Here are a couple of lifesaver photos for you to enjoy.
In order to become a surf lifesaver a person must hold a Bronze Medallion or a Surf Rescue Certificate and pass an annual proficiency test. Every weekend there are people in training to become lifesavers…men and women…40% of lifesavers are female.
There is lots of interest in becoming a lifesaver with children as young as 7 joining clubs as Nippers. There are around 40,000 junior lifesavers in training right now. The aim of the junior program is to give children surf awareness and I’m sure lots of them go on to become fully fledged lifesavers when they grow up.
As well as their regular training, lifesavers compete in competitions throughout the year to hone their skills. Every year lifesavers from Australia, USA, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and the UK come to the Gold Coast for the 4 day Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
Look for the flags on the beach and remember…swim between the red and yellow flags…they are there for your protection. The lifesavers take care to put them in the safest part of the beach. Those not familiar with surf conditions won’t be able to identify dangerous rips that can carry a swimmer out to sea in minutes. Lifesavers can’t watch entire beaches, so if you are between the flags they have more chance of seeing swimmers who get into trouble.
Lifesavers volunteer their time to help others have a great day at the beach.
Lifesavers keep watch from these cute little outlook posts, meaning they can be around in all types of weather.
My uncle, Allan Kolkka, was involved in the lifesaving world for most of his life. He was a founding member of Northcliffe Surf Lifesaving Club and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to lifesaving in 1999. His 3 sons carry on the tradition…and their children.
Click here to see more on Allan Kolkka.