March 5 - 11, 2023: Issue 574


New Marine Rescue Broken Bay Base Commissioned: a building designed to look like a boat to honour its purpose - the work of marine rescue volunteers

Marine Rescue Broken Bay Members, supporting Marine Rescue Unit Members, Marine Rescue Dep. Commissioner Alex Barrell, The Hon Rob Stokes, Councillors of NBC and the NEW Base for the Unit at Commissioning Ceremony held Saturday March 4, 2023 

Led by Unit Commander Jimmy Arteaga, Marine Rescue Broken Bay held the official Commissioning of their new Unit Base at Bayview on Saturday March 4th. Pittwater MP Rob Stokes, also representing Steph Cooke, Minister for Emergency Services and Minister for Flood Recovery, Mayor Michael Regan and Deputy Commissioner of Marine Rescue NSW, Alex Barrell, shared insights on the realisation of the project and the unique features purposely incorporated into the structure. 

Architect Michael Biddulph has designed a building that not only realises the most current fundamentals of embedded autonomous features, he drew to honour and celebrate the work of Marine Rescue NSW as the profile of a boat is a feature of the Base’s ocean facing side. 

As this was an historic day for Pittwater, the addresses given by those who were part of the Commissioning Ceremony form part of the record.

The official opening of a new $1.215 million Marine Rescue Broken Bay base at Bayview was due to more than $1 million from a future-proofing driven NSW Government and a $200,000 commitment by Northern Beaches Council, and ongoing work by Unit Members and Council staff to realise a fit-for purpose facility.

“I’m so pleased we’ve been able to deliver such an important base for our hardworking volunteers who keep the Pittwater safe,” MP for Pittwater Rob Stokes said.

“This wonderful new facility means the members of Marine Rescue Broken Bay now have a modern and specifically designed operations base to support them in their vital work.

“The NSW Government is proud to support our Marine Rescue volunteers throughout NSW by providing them with the facilities and equipment they need to deliver essential and life-saving services,” Rob Stokes said.

The new facility includes a large training and meeting space, ample storage for rescue equipment, offices, amenities, kitchen facilities, a wet area for boat crews and access for volunteers living with disability.

Marine Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell thanked the Government for its support in developing the new base.

“This funding has boosted our rescue capability on Pittwater and Broken Bay, and ensured our volunteers have facilities designed and equipped for modern emergency management,” Deputy Commissioner Barrell said.

“Pittwater and Broken Bay are some of the busiest boating areas in NSW, and these new facilities will help ensure our volunteers are rescue ready should an emergency arise.”

Commander of the Broken Bay Unit, Jimmy Arteaga, said the new building was the culmination of extensive planning and input by the Unit’s volunteers to ensure it met their needs now and well into the future.

“This new building provides a significant improvement to our ability to train and undertake operations, as well as providing our members with a safe and secure working environment,” Mr Arteaga said.

“I’m grateful for the support of the NSW Government and Northern Beaches Council and confident these first-rate facilities will also help encourage new members to join our mission of saving lives on the water.”

Mr. Arteaga commenced by welcoming Mr. Stokes and Mr. Regan, Ken Edwards, Regional Director, Marine Rescue NSW Board, Alex Barrell, current Deputy Commissioner Marine Rescue NSW, Councillors Sue Heins, Deputy Mayor, Miranda Korzy, Rory Amon, Michael Gencher and Jose Menano-Pires, Senior Sergeant Michael Hrnjak, Broken Bay Water Police, Neil Evers, Elder of the Gadigal clan, Marine Rescue Broken Bay Members and families, and Unit Commanders and Deputy Commanders from surrounding Units.

MRBB Unit Commander Arteaga than asked Garigal man Neil Evers to give the Welcome to Country before the ceremony began.

Uncle Neil said;

Good morning, it is a beautiful morning.

I am a direct descendant of the Garigal people and clan. The Garigal people are the oldest living culture in the world. I pay my respects to the Elders past, present and those to come. I’d also like to recognise that today we are on Garigal country, the country of my ancestors. 

So, when and where was the first boat rescue on Pittwater?; 1788, in March – when [Governor] Phillip came around the end there an aboriginal man came down and said ‘don’t go there, there’s two big rocks. Go around the next bend, and that’s where you will be able to settle’. 

Had he gone there, there would have been a shipwreck –and that may have been a good thing considering what happened afterwards – but the aboriginal man, instead, invited Phillip’s party up into the cave, an invitation declined. The next day they realised the cave could house 20 people, he had fresh water up there and food.[*]

The next day they were greeted with joy and dancing. Have you ever seen the painting we call ‘Dancing with Redcoats’?

View in Broken Bay New South Wales. March 1788' by William Bradley

It’s actually taken from what we now call Clareville, looking straight up the bay to Lion Island. It is a beautiful painting in which you see aboriginal people dancing with the redcoats. [**]

It’s really inspiring – but little did they know what was to come.

Yesterday I asked if I have a Message Stick from this area, but we don’t, because all our Elders were completely wiped out. So we don’t have the Message Stick, we don’t have the painting that we can put on that is of this area, because our Elders are gone. But even so, we still welcome people to this area. 

The greatest welcome was a couple of months back when you had a new vessel commissioned to serve on these waters and it was named ‘Bungaree’.

Bungaree is my ancestor – he was born right here in Patonga. He sailed around Australia with Matthew Flinders, he sailed up and down this coast many times.  On one of the occasions he sailed up there he got to Newcastle and disappeared. There was a corrobboree on and the easiest way to get there was to sail up.

So aboriginal people have been here for thousands and thousands of years – and it is on their behalf that I Welcome you to this incredible, beautiful country. 


UC Arteaga then observed the Flag Party protocols and the National Anthem being sung, led by MRBB Member, Andrew Curdie. 

UC Arteaga invited Pittwater MP Rob Stokes as the first of the Speakers to address those attending the commissioning ceremony. 

With the State Government now in the caretaker period, in one of his last acts as The Hon Member for Pittwater, and whose work to secure the funds for the build has ensured the long-term support mechanisms for Marine Rescue Broken Bay volunteers, deferred to others in his speech.  Rob Stokes, retiring Minister for Infrastructure, Minister for Cities, and the Minister for Active Transport in the Perrottet ministry, also suggested he too may soon be able to take to a boat and he too may be one who calls for assistance in future unchartered waters now that he can cast off all anchors and explore new horizons.

Rob serves as a lifesaver on Mona Vale beach and has served as a member of the Volunteer Coastal Patrol before that.

Mr. Stokes said:

Thanks Jimmy, thanks ladies and gentlemen. I too want to acknowledge and thank the Traditional Custodians of this land for their Custodianship of Country. I want to thank Uncle Neil for that eloquent and thoughtful Welcome to Country. Every time I hear you Neil I learn something new. I do know that painting by William Bradley which was included in his account when he visited here with Governor Phillip back in March 1788.

Ladies and gentlemen there are so many people who need to be acknowledged and thanked for the work that they have done to bring today to fruition. I want to acknowledge Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell, Darren Schultz who is the Zone Commander, also the Director of Marine Rescue NSW Ken Edwards. I also want to acknowledge the indefatigable Jimmy Arteaga who has worked so hard on behalf of everyone here – he is a true leader because he is a true servant and it has been a great honour to watch Jimmy and Andrew Majewski and all others from the MRBB Unit that have worked so hard and assiduously to support the community. 

This is a very historic and service orientated Unit, its history dates back right to the beginning of the dawn of the Royal Coastal Patrol volunteers in the late 1930’s. I was talking with David Harrison earlier who reminded me of the original plans for the base that was going to be over at the RPA and RMYC and which David joined back in 1974. I remember being a member of the Unit when it was based at the RMYC in the 1990s. I also want to acknowledge Peter Woods who is here today and another long term ember of the Unit. 

This is a Unit with a very proud history and that is something worth celebrating today. Two Units that came together, the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol, which started in 1937, and the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, which started in 1961, combined as Marine Rescue back in 2009 and has forged a future as the premiere marine auxiliary rescue organisation in NSW and serves with real distinction. I saw in the records since July last year there have been 115 rescues and call-outs on the Pittwater estuary. It’s the busiest recreational port in the country so a rescue Unit like this one is sorely needed, and for the work you do, you really need to be saluted. It is my pleasure, as it is the pleasure of Mayor Michael Regan, and the Councillors who are here, Crs. Sue Heins, Deputy Mayor, Rory Amon, Michael Gencher, Miranda Korzy, and Jose Menano-Pires who all work really hard and do an incredible job in the thankless area of local government. It has been the partnership between the NSW Government and our local Council working together to provide a Base for this Unit. This is important for the social development of our community but even more important to provide a vital emergency service.

I couldn’t be prouder to represent this community as one of my final acts in seeing this Unit Base finally delivered after decades and decades of planning and talking about it. I salute everyone who has been involved. This is an incredible Unit with an incredible history and an incredible future. I couldn’t be prouder to represent you all and I look forward to seeing you out on the water, and presumably, as I go into retirement, you can keep me safe as, like everyone, of course, I know boats [laughter] but having said that I suspect I will meet you all again in a different context. 

With those words, can I just thank you all so much, and once again to Jimmy, you’re a true leader and inspiration. Thank you all.

UC Arteaga:

Thank you Rob for those words, it’s bene an incredible journey and thank you for working  with us, you have been an incredible support. I hope you have a great retirement, and if you’re caught on the water, obviously we’ll be there for you.

I’d now like to invite Councillor Regan to say some words.

Mayor Regan:

Thank you Neil for your Welcome, as usual, fantastic, with you we do really learn something new every day. Well done.

Also, Rob, I just want to say on behalf of a grateful community, thank you for your 16 years of service to us. You will be missed and whoever takes up the role post 25 of March will have huge shoes to fill. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to work with you for 15 of those years.

I also thank all our special guests and the members of this Unit or being here today and for your service to our Community. 

I’d just like to share with you some notes because my staff are very proud of what they have delivered here.

The building is a bespoke designed and highly valued for the lifesaving support that Marine Rescue provides. The building has been designed for water, energy and thermal efficiency, which is not often done for these types of buildings. It has additional high ceilings, additional insulation, lots of natural light, LED lighting, solar hot water, thermal windows, rainwater tanks and many other sustainable features. 

It has been quite the journey to realise this Base, as you all know. So before I thank everyone involved, a little bit of history about the old building. 

A couple of decades ago, before it was home to Marine Rescue, the old demountable building had an entirely different life. It started as water marina depot on what is now known as Winnererremy Bay. It then made its way to Rat Park and was used by the Northern Spirit Football Club and then was moved here and served the Marine Rescue Unit f Broken Bay for the last couple of decades. So it is reasonable to say that Marine Rescue deserved a new home. 

Projects like this do take many people and great relationships and my staff are very proud to have worked with all of you. I’d like to acknowledge our local in-house at Council Architect Michael Biddulph – Mike, thank you so much for your fantastic design. I know you worked with other consultants to ensure the facilities met the standards and skilfully designed the building so that if you stand and look at the eastern façade the building is shaped like a boat with a bow, a captain’s bridge and even incorporated the red stripes to match with Marine Rescue’s insignia – so well done – very impressive. 

Council’s Project Manager Cody Mather did an excellent job overseeing the construction which Grindley Interiors completed, and Peter Rodham for Planning Design and Delivery.  Peter also told me that three very special Marine Rescue Broken Bay volunteers deserve a shout out; Mark Cooper whose amazing professional commitment to the project, all while physically supporting the flooded communities in northern NSW; Jimmy Arteaga who spent many hours co-designing the building to ensure it was fit-for-purpose, thank you sir, and Chris Guy for your efforts.

Thanks to the State Government – Rob we couldn’t have done this without you working to find the funding, a really good legacy for you sir, I can’t thank you enough.

The real heroes here are the volunteer members of Marine Rescue Broken Bay who generously give their time to make sure the community is kept safe in the waters. I thank you for your work and we look forward to continuing to work with you well into the future. Thank you so much for giving up your time to do this and be there for others and be a part of the voluntarism in our community. 

Thank you.

Marine Rescue Broken Bay Unit Commander Jimmy Arteaga stated:

As the commander of the Marine Rescue Broken Bay Unit it gives me great pleasure to express our gratitude for the support from the NSW Government and the Northern Beaches Council. 

This is a significant milestone for our Unit and I’m honoured to stand here today to acknowledge this achievement. 

I would like to acknowledge some key people. Without their help, this achievement would not have been possible. Firstly thank you to Mr. Peter Rodham who has tirelessly worked with my Unit and strengthened the relationship between both our organisations. Thank you to Mark Cooper of Marine Rescue who worked diligently with the Council to get the approvals and make this project a reality. Thank you to my Deputy Andrew Majewski for his support and sharing the same vision of getting this Unit to where it is. I also want to thank our Broken Bay members who have put up with the inconvenience this project has caused to their volunteering. I hope this new base is a great home for them. 

This building will provide a significant improvement to our ability to train and undertake operations as well as providing our members with a safe and secure working environment. 

I’m grateful and confident these first-rate facilities will also encourage new members to join our mission of saving lives on water.

Thank you.

Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell was announced as the new Commissioner for Marine Rescue NSW on Friday March 3rd, a position he will commence on April 1, 2023. Mr. Barrell has connections with our community that commenced with the service his parents vested in him. An overview is available in this weeks' Appointment Of New Marine Rescue NSW Commissioner Announced As Alex Barrell: A Local Gentleman From A Family Who Have Served Our Community For Decades.

Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell:

Thank you Jimmy. I’d like to welcome all our guests to this significant day for Marine Rescue Broken Bay. We certainly could not have done this as an organisation without the great support and work of the local Council and the NSW State Government.

A number of years ago when we got significant funding from this State Government it changed the landscape for Marine Rescue, gave us the ability to invest in new resources; in new buildings and boats.

For our membership, in the famous words of Darryl Kerrigan; it’s not a house it’s a home. This is not a base it’s now a new home for Marine Rescue Broken Bay.

Marine Rescue is more than just the support we give to boaters in NSW. It's an opportunity for community and like-minded people to come together and support their local community.

For our members here at Broken Bay to have this great new facility, to share experiences, to share their stories, to share laughs, to share tears is as important as the many other community services we carry out. To look around and see so many faces, some old, some new, it is a testament to the long traditions of this Unit and I’m sure that will continue into the future.

Thank you again to the Northern Beaches Council. From what I hear there has been a great partnership with Marine Rescue once again. We cannot do what we do without strong partnerships between government and community and it’s extremely important that we work together in the betterment of the local boating community. As Rob said, there have been 115 rescues and call outs over the last 9 months. We have seen an increase of these over the whole of Marine Rescue NSW, a 60% increase in our rescues since Covid and we’re seeing that trend continue. So a strong investment in strong facilities that we can put back into our membership to support training, to support capability, translates into what we deliver out on the water. I think the future is very strong for Marine Rescue in this area and right across NSW.

It's great to see our fellow Unit Commanders and leadership here. It’s really important that we strive as an organisation to be more consistent and operate as one Marine Rescue Unit at sea. The support of our local Unit Commanders just goes to show there is a great network amongst our organisation right across the board. I thank you again for taking time out of your day to come and celebrate. Its great to see Ken Edwards, our elected Board Member for this Sydney region who advocates so strongly for us.

Rob, I’d like to thank you personally. Yours are definitely going to be hard shoes to fill up in this area, there’s no doubt about that. I’m pretty confident it’s not retirement for you, and having heard you say you were a member back in the 90’s, I did just check our membership base, and we can quickly dust that off with all your spare time – you can step away from the red and yellow and step into some blue and yellow and that would be much appreciated. I know Michael Gencher is going to do the same at some point when he gets a little bit more time away from his Council work and we’d love to see you both continue your involvement with Marine Rescue. 

Thank you – and please make the most of this building. I know it’s going to take Marine Rescue forward in this area. 

The prow of the new base at Bayview now juts as immutably into the future as what Marine Rescue NSW, its people and its vessels enunciate as their purpose– to save lives on water, whether in enclosed waters, during emergency flood events, or on offshore seas.

Attending Northern Beaches Councillors with MRBB Unit Commander Jimmy Arteaga, Deputy Commissioner Alex Barrell and Pittwater MP Rob Stokes

Uncle Neil Evers and Councillor Jose Menano-Pires, who were in the Base yard talking while the NBC pic with Councillors was taken

[*]When the southern branch of Broken Bay was first visited, the getting round the headland that separates the branches, was attended with some difficulty, on account of very heavy squalls of wind, accompanied with rain. An attempt was made to land, where there proved not to be sufficient water for the boat. During this transaction, an old man and a youth were standing on the rocks where the boat was trying to approach.

Having seen how much our men had laboured to get under land, they were very solicitous to point out the deepest water. Afterwards they brought fire, and seemed willing to render any service in their power. Two of the officers suffered themselves to be conducted by the old man to a cave at some distance, but declined going in, though he invited them by all the signs he could invent. This was rather unfortunate, as the rain was falling very violently, and the cave was found next day sufficiently large to have sheltered the whole party. The old man certainly took great pains to make this understood, but the motive of his earnestness unluckily was mistaken, and his visitors suffered for their suspicions.

He afterwards assisted in clearing away the bushes, and making preparations for the party to sleep on shore, and next morning was rewarded with presents for his very friendly behaviour. Two days afterwards, when Governor Phillip returned to the same spot, the old man met him with a dance and a song of joy. His son was with him, and several of the natives; a hatchet was given them and other presents; and as the Governor was to return next day to Port Jackson, it was hoped that the friendship thus begun, and so studiously cultivated, would have continued firm. Extracts From; The Voyage Of Governor Phillip To Botany Bay. 1789. 2 -9 March 1788

[**] Retracing Governor Phillip's Footsteps Around Pittwater: The Mystery Of The Cove On The East Side by Roger Sayers and Geoff Searl, 2017

Commissioning of base ceremony

Saturday March 4, 2023, Rowland Reserve, 
Bayview, Pittwater

Jimmy Arteaga, Unit Commander, Marine Rescue Broken Bay

Neil Evers

The Hon. Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater

Mayor Michael Regan

Mayor Michael Regan pointing out Architect Michael Biddulph 

Michael Biddulph