February 11 - 17, 2018: Issue 347

Bondi's Black Sunday Remembered 80 Years On: Australia's Largest Mass Rescue

Last Saturday, February 3rd, 2018, Surf Life Saving NSW reported a mass rescue of six fishermen from rocks while fishing on Fingal Island in the Hunter area. The group were hit by a large wave and thrown against the rocks with one young man in his 20s suffering suspected spinal injuries in the incident.

The incident described is similar to that experienced by Adriaan van der Wallen when he rescued people swept into deep water, all unable to swim, when a freak wave rushed into a river mouth while holidaying with his family a few years ago. What would have happened if a trained lifesaver wasn't on the spot, with the skills and education needed and ready to respond?

The Fingal Island rescue, which involved responders from four different agencies including volunteer surf lifesavers, preceded the 80th commemoration of Australia's largest mass rescue at Bondi on Sunday February 6th, 1938. 

On that Sunday, a typical summer's day on Bondi Beach, a crowd of around 35,000 were enjoying the surf and sand. The waves were breaking evenly about 100 feet off shore. Suddenly, three tremendous waves rolled onto the beach in such quick succession that the water could not recede. When a sufficient lull in the wave cycle did eventuate, the massive backwash was phenomenal. Around 200 swimmers were swept into a deep channel and out to sea. 

There was instant panic among many of those swept out and at least one tale of heroism in Charles L. Sauer (also spelt Souer) who saved one girl and would lose his own life as a result.

On the beach there Lifesavers leapt into action, manning the reels already in place, and grabbing rubber surfoplanes, surf boards and skis, or swimming into the turmoil without belts and only their surfing skill to help them. 

Panic also swept those relatives and friends on the beach. The hastily summoned local police could not cope and called for reinforcements, doctors and
ambulances. The surf clubhouse began to resemble a hospital emergency ward as the rescued were brought in. About 30 were resuscitated on the beach while others were rushed to hospital. 

A visiting American doctor, Marshall W. Dyer, one of the doctors who came to the aid of those rescued, later said, "I have never seen and I never expect to see again, such magnificent work as was done by those lifesavers." 

The five who tragically lost their lives were Bernard F. Byrne, Ronald D. McGregor, Charles L. Sauer, known as Sweet, Michael Kennedy , known as Taylor, and Leslie R. Potter. 
During a Season when Australia has experienced record heat and record loss of life through drowning, Surf Life Saving Australia stating on January 19th 2018  there had been 29 coastal drowning deaths recorded since 1 December 2017, a 16% increase (4 more) than the same period last summer, the commemoration of this mass rescue, and all those who worked in the water and on the beach to save lives then, and last weekend, reminds us all why we can do a little bit in many capacities to increase those saved and decrease those lost.

Words on last Sunday's Commemoration, courtesy of Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club, run below.
Beyond them, some excerpts and pictures form that 'Black Sunday' to make more present what was happening then and here, just a lifetime ago.


More than 150 lifesavers from across Australia recently commemorated the 80th anniversary of Australia’s deadliest mass surf rescue on Bondi Beach by recreating Black Sunday, when the backwash from three enormous waves washed hundreds of swimmers out to sea.

Lifesavers from Bondi SBLC, supported by North Bondi SLSC, Waverley Lifeguards and volunteers from other Australian surf lifesaving clubs, staged the re-enactment with the CPR and lifesaving equipment used 80 years ago last Sunday, February 4th.

On 6 February 1938, three huge successive waves resulted in 250 swimmers being swept out to sea. Dozens of lifesavers started rescuing swimmers in a scene of indescribable panic, and as each unconscious patient reached the beach, work of revival began. When the surf had been cleared, the beach resembled a battlefield. With more than 180 rescues, 35 unconscious patients and five drowning deaths, Black Sunday is still the largest mass surf rescue in Australian history.

The Black Sunday rescuers swam into the surf wearing belts attached to surf reel lines. With up to 20 swimmers hanging onto the ropes, several lifesavers nearly drowned as they were pulled under by those they were trying to rescue.

Also present at Bondi to remember the anniversary and to share their memory was the son of one of the original rescuers who was on the beach that day in 1938.

“Dad did CPR on one of the drowning victims but the doctor said there was no hope. But dad kept working and working on him for half an hour and up came the water and there was a sign of life. I know that stayed with him for a long, long time. He was very proud of the way all the life savers came together,” Peter Hawthorne, son of Ken Hawthorne (North Bondi SLSC) who at aged 98, is the oldest living lifesaver who was one of the rescuers from Black Sunday.

“Black Sunday is one of the most significant days in surf lifesaving history. This commemorative 80th anniversary re-enactment was a mark of respect and a fitting tribute to the heroism of the rescuers. Today was also about acknowledging the hundreds of volunteer surf lifesavers who patrol Bondi Beach and keep the public safe,” Jacob Waks, President, Bondi SBLSC.

Modern lifesaving techniques were born on Bondi Beach and this tribute is also a demonstration of how lifesaving has evolved over eight decades. Significant advances in medicine, technology and equipment have aided our rescue and resuscitation techniques. A flotation device dropped by a drone was used recently to rescue two swimmers at Lennox Head.

It is likely that a flash rip caused the sudden backwash that carried the swimmers out to sea on Black Sunday. “As lifesavers, our primary objectives are prevention and education. Our role is to increase public awareness of the dangers of rips, promote beach safety and educate swimmers to always swim between the flags,” Mr Waks said.

Mark Cotter, President of North Bondi SLSC commented: “80 Years ago Black Sunday saw not only the greatest mass rescue ever performed on Bondi Beach but forged the legend of the Australian Surf Life Saver into world history forever. It also cemented the working relationship between the two surf clubs and the Life Guards.”

This summer, Bondi and North Bondi Lifesavers have collectively volunteered more than 13,000 patrol hours. During this time, they have undertaken more than 300 rescues, performed first aid on 710 people and prevented countless rescues through vigilant beach management.

“We have members of all ages, from our five-year-old nippers who are junior lifesavers in training to our oldest patrolling member who is 83. Both clubs welcome all new members. It is never to early or too late to learn to save a life,” Mr Waks said. 

“A Visual History”

Click here for further information about the events of Black Sunday  - this archival footage filmed in the 1980s is a great resource.

Lifesavers featured include Carl Jeppesen (in the white shirt on the tape) was Club Captain at the time. Carl was on the beach and led the Black Sunday rescue. One of the Bondi Patrol groups is named Jeppesen in honour of Carl, and Basil McDonald  (black shirt)

Photo Credit;  Alejandro Jaramillo, Words; Courtesy of Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club

Friday 9 February 2018 - Surf Life Saving New South Wales

Black Sunday 1938 - From The Pages Of The Past

Collapse In Surf At Bondi
After having been rescued by two men at Bondi Beach to-day, a man, who had come from Melbourne four months ago, died without regaining consciousness.

His wife was on the beach when he collapsed, apparently from heart failure. The victim was Charles Montague Walters, 54. of Lamrock-avenue, Bondi, who recently retired from active business In Melbourne. Lifesaver William Stewart donned the belt and went to the rescue. John Watson, who was at the baths also went to his aid. Dr. Alan V. Smith, of Waverley, and the Eastern Suburbs Ambulance were summoned. They relieved the lifesavers, Dr. Smith administering an injection to stimulate the heart and the ambulance men giving CO2 gas treatment. Their efforts were In vain, and after an hour and a quarter. Dr Smith pronounced life extinct. DEATH AFTER RESCUE (1938, February 4). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 1 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231123137


SYDNEY, Sunday. — In the worst surf tragedy on record in New South Wales four men were drowned and thirty-five . persons were treated for shock and immersion when 200. bathers were carried out eighty yards off Bondi beach in a pounding surf this afternoon. Late to-night it was feared that a fifth man may have been drowned, following the discovery of unclaimed clothing.

The victims were: — 
RONALD McGREGOR, 21 years, mechanic, of Bondi. 
BERNARD FRANCIS BYRNE, 34 years, of Earlwood. 
LESLIE POTTER, of North Bondi. 
An unidentified elderly man, believed to be Charles Souer, 53 years, address unknown, who is stated by the life-savers to have given his life for a young girt who was floating unconscious in the surf. 

A heavy sea had been running all day but the surf was crowded. At 3.15 p.m. with dramatic suddenness waves estimated by witnesses to be 35 feet high swept in and pounded the beach. The backwash was terriffic, and a batch of 200 was washed out to sea. Pandemonium reigned, and when more than thirty life-savers equipped with belts, surfoplanes and surf skis, reached the bathers many of them were screaming and crying. Some were lighting one another in an endeavor to be saved, and others nearly drowned the rescuers. 

Three of the life-savers, who rescued more than twenty persons between them, were, nearly drowned when they reached a big batch of bathers. Some grabbed the lifeline and others hung on to the rescuers' arms and legs. In one case a life-saver had to knock a man unconconsclous who had grabbed him by the throat. Many people had lost consciousncss when they were rescued, and tired life-savers, doctors and police worked for many hours on some or the rescued. 

Dying Man's Heroism. 
The dead man who has not yet been identified is stated to have grabbed one of the life-savers' lines and wound it tightly round his wrist so that he would not be dragged back into the danger zone. With his free hand he grasped the long hair of the young girl who was floating past and dragged her to safety with him. He reached the beach and after standing up for a time collapsed. Despite frantic efforts by life-savers, life was found to be extinct. 

The girl later recovered. 

Officials of the Bondi Surf Club were unanimous that the man saved the girl's life air the expense of his own. None of the rescuers had noticed her plight, and the elderly man, hampered by the girl's weight, must have been dragged under the water for some considerable distance before reaching the beach. 

The scene on the beach and in the club house after the rescue was chaotic. Dozens of people were lying on the floor wrapped In blankets, while three doctors, including Dr. Marshall Dyer, an American who is visiting Sydney for the celebrations, and life-savers and police were treating and resuscitating the swimmers. As sufferers showed signs of recovery the doctors rushed to other cases. 

In spite of assurances by life-savers that everyone had been rescued, the club house was inundated by anxious relatives who had missed their kin in the disorder that reigned during the rescue work, but their fears were soon allayed by club officials. The beach was soon packed with people as the news spread through Bondi, and the life-savers were hampered in the resuscitation work by a curious and anxious crowd. 

Life-savers' Stories. 
Life-savers who performed sterling work were J. Daly, A. Elm. W. Butler, J. Keene, C. Walsh, A. Hart, E. Mitchell, G. Cohen, K. Barnes and C. Jefferson, the captain. 

'I thought I was gone," said A. Elm, one of the club's life-savers and the first to don a belt and dash to the rescue. "All round me people were screaming and crying and many grabbed me. At one stage one man had hold of me by the throat, another grasped me around the chest, .and another had hold of my legs. It seemed as if dozens of people were hanging on to the lifeline, and every time a huge wave broke over me ' I was dragged under." 

Elm added that at one stage he was forced to knock a man unconscious who in a desperate frenzy to be saved had grabbed him by the throat. This bather was picked up by another life-saver who came to the assistance of Elm. 

One of the eight people rescued by Elm was an unconscious 17-year-old youth, Ross Smith, of Bourke-street, Darllnghurst. The youth said that he was on a surfoplane when suddenly he found himself being drawn out to sea and being buffeted by waves. When Smith was brought to the beach he was unconscious, and the life-savers despaired of saving his life. Resuscitation methods were tried on him for two hours before he recovered consciousness, and he was then wrapped In blankets and taken to the club house. 

As he left to go home he thanked Elm for saving his life. Elm, who was nonchantly eating an Ice cream, replied: "That is all right, old chap. It Is all in a day's work." 

"Lucky To Be Alive." 
A Hart, who is a champion swimmer, went to the rescue on a surf ski. He said five lines were used, and surf skis and surfoplanes were requisitioned by life-savers. He brought five people, two of whom were unconscious, to the beach. Police Cadet Walsh, another member of the club, said many of the swimmers had lost their heads, and it was pathetic to see the plight of some of the women who had become hysterical. 

Another of the rescued bathers, E. Coram, 22 years, of Rozelle, who when he left for home, was still suffering from his nerve-wracking ordeal, said that he was 'lucky to be alive." He had never seen anything like the surf in all his life. 
The Beach was closed after the tragedy, but just before dusk three venturesome surfers entered the water and were soon in danger. Two life-savers, however, quickly brought them ashore. 

Is There a Fifth Victim ? 
Bondi police late to-night were still being Inundated with inquiries from anxious people concerning the whereabouts of their relatives. A mail's clothing was found in the surf shed, and late to-night hod not been claimed. It is now feared that there might have been another victim although -Bondi life savers and officials believed that everyone had been rescued. So big was the wave which caused the backwash that carried the bathers out that some of the oldest residents of Bondi believe that it was a minor tidal wave. Fortunately, a junior surf race was about to commence, and when the tragedy occurred there were many life savers on the beach standing by. This undoubtedly prevented a bigger death toll. At one stage during rescue work more than twenty people were hanging on to one of the lifelines, which snapped under the weight, and other life savers had to rescue them. Allan Moore, a junior member of the club, found an unconscious surfer floating head downwards In a few feet of water. This bather was later resuscitated. 

Fatality at Newcastle. 
SYDNEY, Sunday. — Ten people were in difficulties in the surf at Newcastle beach early this afternoon. All were brought to the shore, but It was Impossible to revive Frederick Sllverwright, 53 years, of Newtown, Sydney. It will not be known whether he was drowned or died from natural causes until the post mortem examination. A treacherous surf was running most of the day, and more than 20 rescues were made. 
SURF TRAGEDY (1938, February 7). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 11. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206742976


A remarkable picture of one of the huge waves which yesterday at Bondi caused four, and possibly five, deaths, breaking over surfers. The photograph shows the immensity of the dumper. The cameraman was taking a snap of a girl bather by the waterside when the death-dealing wave suddenly came within range of the lens.

Resuscitation work being carried out by lifesavers and helpers on some of the men brought ashore yesterday in one of the most spectacular rescues in Australian surfing history.
BONDI DEATH WAVE (1938, February 7). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 1 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231117390

Life-Savers Busy at Bondi Mass Rescue

Crowds being kept back on Bondi bench, Sydney, while life savers resuscitated some of the exhausted surfers rescued when 200 were swept into deep water by a series of big waves.
Life-Savers Busy at Bondi Mass Rescue (1938, February 7). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), p. 1 (SECOND EDITION). Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article183837907


Scenes after the surfing tragedies at Bondi on Sunday. Top picture : Life-savers giving attention to bathers rescued from the surf. Lower pictures : Carl Jepperson (left) , the life-savers' captain, who made many rescues. Harry Freer and Harry Hoare, two of the surfers rescued, are shown in the picture at the right. 
MASS RESCUES IN BONDI SURF HORROR (1938, February 8). The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), p. 14. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article39729547

SYDNEY, Tuesday.
Asher Hart (21), of the Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club, one of those officially commended for service in the surf rescues at Bondi on Sunday was stricken seven years ago with infantile paralysis. The malady wasted away the muscles of his hips and stomach, but he gained amazing strength in the arms and retained perfect physical condition otherwise. He was in hospital for five months and at one period his case was regarded as hopeless. Patience and fortitude, however, played their part in his recovery. 

Friends of Leslie Potter, one of the victims, told to-day how they dragged him by the legs towards the water. He dashed after them into the surf to his death. Previous to that Potter had told his friends that he did not want another swim. In the morning Potter had helped to rescue several persons who were in difficulties.
BONDI SURF HERO WAS ONCE PARALYSIS VICTIM (1938, February 8). The Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW : 1894 - 1939), p. 1. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article131259657

SYDNEY, Tuesday
The captain of the Bondi Life Saving Club. C. A. Jepperson. said to-day that the club had decided that no individual members of the club should be singled out for special commendation arising out of Sunday's rescues. He said the task was one of such magnitude that it would be impossible to record individual activities

His club's report to the Sydney Life Saving Surf Association would contain no names. Any credit must be ... of which performed during the tragedy in efficient style. Members who remained on the beach and in the club house carrying out resuscitation work had performed duties which, although maybe not so spectacular, were just as necessary as even more so than the actual rescuing, for the last fight was often with those units. 
BONDI HORROR (1938, February 9). National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160699991

A fortnight later the first of two Inter-Dominion surf carnivals took place:

To-day's surf carnival 
Bondi Rescue Heroes In Competitions

THE greatest carnival in the history of the Surf Life-Saving Association of Australia will eventuate on the Bondi Beach this afternoon, commencing at 2.30. It will be the first time in Australia that every State of the Commonwealth, except Victoria, will be represented, while the sister Dominion, New Zealand, will have a fine team of surfers.

LIFE-SAVING In New South Wales has attracted the world. To-day countries overseas are seeking to apply the Australian methods of resuscitation. The value of the surf lifesavers was amply demonstrated a fortnight ago when, from this beach, 300 persons were swept to sea. Thanks to the splendid work of the lifesavers there was a death-toll of only five. And it would have been less, I feel sure, had onlookers with no knowledge whatever of lifesaving left the work of rescue to these highly-trained men, instead of interfering with lines and reels in their zeal to assist. 

Support Needed 
Lifesavers have received little or no support from the public in the past 30 years. It has been left to these splendid men to give this wonderful public service at their own expense. Well, the public can show a little appreciation of these men's efforts by attending the carnivals at Bondi to-day and Manly next Saturday In their thousands, and thus give a fillip to the funds of the association. To-day, the public will see representatives from New Zealand and every State of the Commonwealth in action. And these men have come here at their own expense. They are not allowed 5/ a day or more, as are our "amateur" tennis players, footballers, rowers, cricketers, etc and they pay their own fares, too. 

The public will see a sight in the March Past unequalled in any part of the world — almost 800 men in the prime of manhood, highly trained, and the best swimmers of Australia. They will see beltmen and powerful swimmers battling for championship' honors; lifeboats, surf skis and surf-boards, all used in rescue work, quickly launched and racing to the buoys a mile or so away, while the champion R. and R. teams will fight it out for the Australian championship of 1938. 

Probable Results 
I have been asked to suggest probable winners. It is a hard thing to do when one has not seen some of the teams in action. In the March Past, there are 38 teams competing, with North Bondi, Queenscliff, Maroubra, Bronte, Coogee, Stockton and Wollongong standing out most prominently. I think the first three will come from North Bondi, Maroubra, Queenscliff and Stockton or Wollongong. Newbiggen, of Cook's Hill: Imrle. of Burleigh Heads; Biddulph, of Manly; Beckenham, of Queenscliff; Chadwick, of North Bondi; and Nancarrow, of Kempsey-Crescent Head should figure in the Junior Surf Championship, with Biddulph, Chadwick and Newbiggen in the places. 

The final of the R. and R. should be close, with Bondi, North Steyne and Burleigh Heads In the places. Chadwick, Newbiggen and Imrie should be the placegetters in the Junior Belt Championship, while Ritchie Walker, of Kempsey-Crescent Head, should beat Arthur Carrier, of South Narrabeen, and Clem Walsh, of Bondi.

In the Senior Belt Championship. New South Wales should carry off the Invitation R. and R. event, while Mills, of Yamba; Bassingthwaite and Hart, of Bondi: Scott, of Blackhead: and Long, of Burleigh Heads, should fight out the Restricted Senior Surf Race. GREATEST OF ALL (1938, February 19).The Labor Daily (Sydney, NSW : 1924 - 1938), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article237435466

Main Event to Bondi Club. 
SYDNEY, Feb. 20.-
The first of the two surf life-saving carnivals in the 150th Anniversary celebrations programme was held at Bondi yesterday and attracted several thousand persons. Bright weather, good surf and a full representation of interstate clubs, except Victoria, and a team from New Zealand, made it one of the most successful carnivals ever held. 

The Governor (Lord Wakehurst) presented the premiership pennant to the Bondi Club, whose team won the rescue and resuscitation championship and Lord Nuffeld presented the trophy for the march past to the North Bondi Club. 

Thirty-three teams from Sydney, the North Coast, four other States and New Zealand, took part in the march past which was an inspiring spectacle. A high standard of excellence was shown and at the end of the parade the judges announced that six teams-North Bondi, Maroubra, Queenscliff, Queensland, Bronte, and Bondi had tied and must march off for the prize. When this was done North Bondi, winners last year, were announced as the champions, with Maroubra second and Queensland third. 

Although not as impressive to watch as the march past, the outstanding event was the rescue and resuscitation championship, in the final of which Bondi, North Steyne, North Wollongong, Ballina and Lismore clubs from N.S.W., Burleigh Heads-Mowbray Park, from Queensland, and Cottesloe, from Western Australia, competed. 

Bondi, a club which has probably won more championships in this event than any other, regained it after a stern battle with North Steyne, while the Burleigh Heads-Mowbray Park team finished third, narrowly beating North Wollongong. 

The surf was sufficiently heavy to test the swimming ability of the beltmen. The Bondi team with Ashur Hart, as patient, H. Doener, beltman, and V. Besome, as resuscitator, did excellent work. Cottesloe and Ballina were the last two to land their patients. 

Robert Newbiggen, of Newcastle, attained a double championship success, by winning the junior belt and Junior surf championships. He beat the holder, Robin Biddulph in the junior event, but J. Visscher, of North Bondi, did not defend the Junior belt title. 

For the first time the senior surf championship was won by a swimmer from outside New South Wales, namely T. Long, of Queensland. Swimming magnificently against the finest metropolitan and country swimmers in New South Wales as well as representatives of Western Australia, South Australia and New Zealand, Long fought out an exhausting race with F. Heek, of Lismore, and Ashur Hart and won by a small margin. 

An event not listed as a championship was the invitation rescue and resuscitation competition in which six teams, five representing Australian States and New Zealand, competed. New South Wales won by a narrow margin from New Zealand, whose team work showed the benefit of what had been learnt from the visit of the Australian team to New Zealand last year. 
SURF LIFE-SAVING. (1938, February 21). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), p. 17. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article41661259

The runup to the second carnival, to be held at Manly, was spoken of among the Bondi rescue:

For Inter-Dominion Surf Carnival AT MANLY
fTHE Inter-Domlnlon Surf Carnival at Manly on Saturday promises to eclipse that held at Bondi last week-end. 
The entries are a record and the officials will be hard put to it to see the huge programme through In the few hours set down for It. Of course, the main events will be the Inter - Dominion Championships— seven events for which the draw has already been published in "The Labor Dally."

Yesterday the Association officials made the draw for the events other than the Dominion Championships, which resulted as follows: 

March Past: North Bondl, Taree Old Bar, Newport, South Curl Curl, Maroubra, Queenscliffe, Bronte, Nth. Narrabeon, North Steyne, North Cronulla, Cronulla, Dee Why, Mona Vale Alumni, Coogee, Manly, Palm Beach, Freshwater, Bondl. North Curl Curl, Tamaroma, Collaroy. 
Restricted Senior Surf Race: Queenscllile, Mona Vale Alumni, Newport, Palm Beach, Bondi, Freshwater, Deewhy, North Narrabeen, North Curl Curl, North Bondl, Bronte, South Narrabeen, Manly, South Brighton, Henley (S.A.). Coogee, North Cronulla, Queensland, North Steyne, North Wollongong, Waltc-mata (N.Z.), Cronulla, Maroubra, and West Australia. 
Junior Surf Race: North Steyne, Freshwater, Deewhy, Bondi, Bronte, Cronulla, Tasmania, Queensland, Coogee, Henley (S.A.), Maroubra, North Bondl, North Narrabeen, Queenscliff, Manly and N.Z. 
In the senior boat race there are seven heats, two semi-finals, and a final. In the Junior boat race there are three heats and a final. There are nine heats, two semi-flnals and a final In the beach sprint, while there are four heats and a final. In the beach relay race. No fewer than fourteen clubs have entered in the canoe race, while nine clubs have entered in the surf ski rescue race. There will be enough events to keep the attention of the record crowd which is expected.
RECORD ENTRIES RECEIVED (1938, February 24). The Labor Daily (Sydney, NSW : 1924 - 1938), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article237424844

SURF CARNIVAL. (1938, February 26). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 15. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article17426532

Life Savers Earn High Praise.
SYDNEY. Friday. — The opinion that panic was responsible for the death of five surfers at Bondi on Sunday, February 6, was expressed to-day by Thomas William Meagher, chief beach Inspector employed by the Waverley council. He added that heavy sens were running at the time, but he thought the men would have been rescued. Mr. Oram, in finding that five surfers had been swept into a channel and accidentally drowned, said the rescue work was a striking instance of the service of voluntary life savers. He realised that the efforts of such men had been the means of preventing many deaths from drowning. BONDI SURF TRAGEDY. (1938, February 26). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 20. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206742586

Surf Carnival at Manly

THE NEWPORT CREW show grim determination when beaching their craft in the Senior Surf Boat Race at the Surf Carnival at Manly (N.S.W.).
Surf Carnival at Manly (1938, March 5). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 19. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article144368476

Later that same year:

Wave Crumbles Sandbank
Forty surfers were rescued at Bondi this afternoon by five honorary lifesavers, after the victims had been swept into a channel. A sandbank on which they were standing had crumbled beneath them at the onset of a big wave.

A moment before the sea had been almost flat; but suddenly a large wave swept over the surfers. They floundered in the water, and, when they came to the surface, found that the sahdbank on which they depended was no longer there. Caught, in a channel, they discovered' that where the sandbank had been, almost opposite the south end pier; was a large hole about 10 feet deep. Only swift action by the life-savers saved them. 

Afterwards, the rescuers said that members of the public considerably hampered their efforts by hauling on the lines when they should have been paying out. 

Heads Bobbing 
There was, a similar sensational occurrence at Bondi on February 7, when a giant wave swept 200 to sea, and five were drowned. To-day's drama lasted only about 10 minutes. Life-savers were watching about 40 men, women, and children frolicking in calm water on a sandbank, 50 yards out. when suddenly a .wave struck them. A channel immediately developed and. when the foam disappeared, heads were bobbing up and down in the surf. 
Girls and children clutched other swimmers, and certain panic was obvious. 
Carl Jepperson, W. Jenkins, C. Sara, George Connor, and L. Barrat donned belts and rushed into the surf. 

Trunks Make Trouble 
"We found that most of the victims - were in difficulties," Jenkins said later. "Some had been swept about 70 yards. "We discovered, too. that men wearing trunks are much more difficult to rescue than in full costume. Our hands slipped when turning them over where formerly we could get a grip on their costume. "It was a big task for five belt-men as we had to take three and four on each line, but the public on the beach did its best." 

Willing hands ashore had taken charge of the reels, but sometimes without understanding the signals. Aubrey Laidlaw, beach inspector, set them right. Each beltman made three or four trips into the surf, Assisting a victim to the shallows then returning for others. 
One girl required treatment, another cried hysterically, while a third remained calm in face of danger, and smilingly thanked her rescuer. Immediately after the rescues the danger flags were moved farther south, away from the channel, and Laidlaw and the lifesavers kept everyone away from that area. 

"Dumper" Victim 
At Coogee Harry Branwhite (-35). a pastrycook, of Selwyn-street. Paddington, was hurled on the beach by a heavy "dumper," and lay there unable to move until carried away by lifesavers. Eastern Suburbs Ambulance took him to St. Vincent's Hospital where his injury was diagnosed as a probable fracture of the neck. Miss M. McDonald, of Bream-street, Coogee. was knocked over by another breaker .which Injured her right leg. Ambulance officers treated her and she was taken home.
40 CARRIED OUT IN BONDI SURF (1938, November 10). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 1 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231140279

A Few Early Bondi Surf Life Saving Club Notes

Bondi Surf-Bathers' Lifesaving Club.
Of the suggestions which have from time to time been advanced by newspaper correspondents as to the best means of preventing the surf bathing fatalities that occur each season on the ocean beaches around Sydney, some are absurd, many are impracticable, and but few appear to have been written by anyone possessing any knowledge of the subject. Yet the question is an important one, for year by year the health-giving and exhilarating recreation of disporting among the foam-crested breakers gains thousands of new devotees. 

Undoubtedly the best safeguard yet suggested is the formation, at each of the popular resorts where beach-swimming is carried on, of life-saving clubs. The provision of plenty of serviceable and readily-accessible life-lines, and the general spread of a knowledge of their pro-per use, combined with the skilfulness in rough water swimming which the regular bathers have already acquired in large numbers, form the surest guarantee against that loss of life which in the past has but too often resulted from adventurous inexperience. The first step in this direction has been taken at Bondi, which already rivals Manly in popularity as a resort of surf bathers of both sexes. The Bondi Life Saving Club has been formed, and its members hold periodical drills, with a view of perfecting themselves in a knowledge of the best methods to adopt in rescuing persons carried away from shore by the outward cur-rent; of the most prompt and expeditious use of the life-saving gear, as well as of the approved steps to be taken as a means of restoring to life persons who are suffering from the effects of prolonged immersion or partial drowning. Our illustrations show the members of the club at drill. 

Carrying Out the Line.

Landing the "Drowning."


Bondi Life Saving Club.

Permission has been obtained to use the three life-lines, which have been placed on the beach — it may be stated, by the way, that these are neither adequate in number, nor as suitable as they might be in form — and the whole of the operations relating to rescue and resuscitation are regularly carried out. Some of the strongest swimmers in the club will make their way out past two or three lines of breakers to the blue water beyond, a hundred yards or more from shore, and will there await the rescuers. "A couple of the lines are fitted with cork belts, which the rescuer may speedily clasp around him (the third has a lifebuoy, as if anyone could possibly swim out through the breakers with such a heavy encumbrance). The life-savers having swum out to those in "distress," others of the brigade handle the line from the shore end, and from the water nearer the beach, at first paying it out so as to assist the man who is swimming out with it, and after he has reached the to-be-rescued-one, drawing it in in such a manner as to bring the two men ashore without — as has more than once been done when real rescues were in progress — dragging on the rope so as to half drown those at the end of it by pulling them in considerably more than half-submerged.

A portion of the drill is in the direction of restraining the blundering efforts of a well-disposed but ignorant crowd. Similarly, when the task of reinducing animatïon is in progress, measures are taken to prevent undue crowding around the patient, and to ensure for him a free supply of fresh air. Similar organisations to the Bondi Life-Saving Club are being formed at other beach-resorts, and they should be productive of great good, not only by the spread of information and the acquisition of skill by the active members, but by the opportunity they afford the mere onlookers of learning the right, as distinguished from the wrong, method of acting in an emergency. And as men are found so ready to provide the cour-age and the muscle for such praiseworthy work, the authorities should at least back up their efforts by a plentiful supply of life-saving gear. The value to the State of one life is surely worth more than that of many fathoms of rope.
Bondi Surf-Bathers' Life-saving Club. (1907, April 24). Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 27. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71591658

The first, lecture to the members of the Bondi First Aid , Society was delivered to the members by the honorary- medical officer, Dr. G. L. Bell, and was most instructive and interesting. First aid is being taught in conjunction with the Life Saving Club, .which has already justified its existence by the saving of a valuable life a couple of weeks ago. The officers of the club for, the present season are: — Lyster Ormsby, captain; Spencer Dennis, vice-captain; Eden Love, hon. secretary; H. C. Evans, assistant secretary; G. H. Henriques, hon. treasurer; Tom Middleton, Rupert O'Brien, A. Dee,. S. Fullwood, S. Dunrich, committee; R. O. Watkins (Mayor of .Waverley), George H. Henriques, and Alderman E. R. Abigail, trustees. 
BONDI SURF BATHERS' CLUB. (1907, September 24). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 - 1923), p. 7. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article238067087

BONDI LADIES' SURF CLUB. (1912, June 18). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114806154

Also Available - 
Manly LSC Surf Carnival photos before and after the Inter-Dominion Carnival

At the Manly Surf Carnival on Saturday

The carnival, which was one of last Saturday's items of the Anniversary Celebrations, was carried out very successfully. Despite the lack of any good surf, the surf-boat race, the finish of which is shown above, provided an interesting spectacle. The boats (left to right) represented Freshwater, Dee Why, and North Cronulla.
At the Manly Surf Carnival on Saturday (1938, February 2). Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938), p. 30. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166227538


Saturday 3 February 2018
A man is in hospital with suspected spinal injuries after being swept into rocks while fishing on Fingal Island in the Hunter area on Saturday morning. 

Shortly after 10am, the State Operations Centre was alerted to initial reports of an incident involving a group of bushwalkers near the lighthouse on Fingal Island, which is a popular local fishing spot.

Surf Life Saving assets including the Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) from Fingal Beach SLSC, a Hunter Branch Support Jet Ski, and a Hunter Duty Officer were all tasked to attend, while NSW Police and Paramedics also sent personnel.

Once on scene it was quickly discovered that the incident involved fishermen and not bushwalkers as previously reported.

It is understood that the group of six were hit by a large wave and thrown against the rocks with one young man in his 20s suffering suspected spinal injuries in the incident.

Due to the geography of the area only an air evacuation of the patient was possible.

The Westpac Lifesaving Helicopter arrived on scene at around 11:15 with the young fisherman and a second man who had suffered minor leg injuries both flown to hospital shortly afterwards.

Due to the changing conditions, the area was now completely underwater as a result of the tide, it was decided that the remaining members of the group would be transported by the IRB back to Fingal Beach where a staging area had been set up.

Paramedics assessed the group once they had been brought to the safety of the shore but none required any further treatment.

NSW Lifesaving Manager Matt du Plessis said this morning’s rescue reinforced the importance of inter-agency relationships.

“This rescue involved responders from four different agencies including our volunteer surf lifesavers with each playing a small, but critical role in what was a successful outcome.

“We are pleased to be able to assist and play our part in this rescue,” said Mr du Plessis.

It is unknown if the injured fisherman was wearing a lifejacket at the time of the incident. 

General Rock Fishing Safety Tips:
  • Check the weather, surf conditions and tides before going fishing
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
  • Always wear a lifejacket
  • Wear appropriate non-slip footwear and light clothing
  • Always fish with a friend
  • Check the warnings signs for information about the area
  • Never turn your back to the water
  • Do not try and retrieve anything that has fallen into the water
  • Do not jump in if someone falls into the water - wait for assistance or throw an ‘Angel Ring’ or Lifebuoy if there is one nearby
Additionally boaters are urged to always check conditions prior and to log on with their local Marine Rescue Base via radio or using the MarineRescue App. Visit www.mrnsw.com.au for more information
Call Triple Zero – Police to report an in-water emergency

Coastal Drowning Deaths On The Rise

January 19, 2018: SLSA
With all of Australia experiencing a burst of heat, Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is urging all aquatic users to remember that water safety needs to be a number one priority.

There have been 29 coastal drowning deaths recorded since 1 December 2017. This represents a 16% increase (4 more) than the same period last summer.

The hot weather, last week of school holidays and the lead into the Australia Day weekend has Surf Life Saving on high alert as the organisation’s volunteers continue to provide services to the beach going community. “This summer has seen far too many tragedies, and we would like to end the holiday period with all going home safe to their families.” said Melissa King, Chief Executive SLSA.

For the summer period, New South Wales has recorded the highest number of coastal drowning deaths for the summer period accounting for 13 of the total, a 44% increase on last year. Victoria has recorded nine, more than four times the number of coastal drowning deaths recorded for the same period last year. South Australia recording four coastal drowning deaths, a 33% increase on last summer.

Five (17%) deaths were children aged 11-15 years of age, significantly higher than the one death for children aged 15 and under for the same period last summer.

Swimming and wading was the major activity being undertaken at the time of drowning, almost three times higher than last summer. Rip currents are believed to have been a contributing factor to approximately 55% of the coastal drowning deaths for the summer period.

Surf lifesavers and lifeguards have been kept busy across the country performing thousands of rescues, first aid and preventative actions during the summer period.

Despite many people being assisted by surf life savers and lifeguard’s, lives continue to be lost and Surf Life Saving is asking the public to take responsibility for their own safety and that of their loved ones.

“We are urging all beachgoers to stop, pause and assess the situation for water safety before swimming this weekend. Your life or that of a loved one may depend on it.” said Ms King.

“We encourage all beachgoers to head to a patrolled beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.” Ms King said.

Surf Life Saving Australia has renewed its call to take the following precautions when recreating in coastal areas this summer:
  • Where possible, swim at a patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags
  • Obey the safety signs at the beach
  • Learn how to identify a rip current and look for rip currents before deciding where to swim
  • If you’re not sure, ask a lifesaver or lifeguard about the beach conditions
  • Wear a lifejacket while boating, rock fishing or paddling
  • Don’t go into or on the ocean during severe weather warnings
  • Take personal responsibility, think twice and assess your safety before entering the water
  • Supervise children at all times in, on and around water.
For the latest safety information – including patrolled beach locations – visit beachsafe.org.au
Bondi Beach, circa 1900-1910, from album Star Photo Co. - Unmounted views of New South Wales, [chiefly 1900-1910] | PXE 711
Image Nos.:  a116184h and a116185h courtesy State LIbrary of NSW