Large crowds at Bundaberg Region beaches have kept local surf lifesavers busy over the Christmas break, but they love every moment regardless of how busy they are.
Shalom school teacher Michael Harris is both a volunteer lifesaver and a lifeguard who enjoys spending his school holidays by the ocean.
“Is there any better place to be?” he said.
“Last Saturday I had my lifeguard shirt on in the morning and then from 1pm to 6pm I was a volunteer.
“It’s a good and worthwhile job. I don’t have to do it, but I do because I enjoy it. It beats crawling around roofs or lifting bricks.”
The father of three said he wouldn’t give up volunteering and encouraged people in the community to think about getting involved.
“I was life guarding yesterday and there was a lady who came down and used the wheelchair we have here and feel the water on her feet,” he said.
“It was a thrill for her but it's also something nice for us to see too.
“On Christmas Day there was also an 83-year-old lady and she hadn’t touched the ocean for 11 years and I was able to help her, so that was also pretty good.”
Teachers and students on duty
Michael said it was nice to now see some of his students take up surf lifesaving and sometimes he was lucky enough to now work beside them, as he was on duty with fellow lifeguard Lewis McLure.
“I taught Lewis at Shalom when he was in grade 11 and 12,” he said.
“We get on really well together and I would definitely encourage other students.”
Lewis, 22, joined surf lifesaving as a nipper and said it was not only a rewarding pastime, but had led him to his dream job by the sea.
“Volunteering is a pretty important part of surf lifesaving and is good for community service and giving back,” he said.
“I was volunteering from when I was 12 to 17 and now it’s my full-time job.
“I mean it’s a great office, with fresh air every day.”
Lewis said surf lifesaving had opened many doors for him, including earlier this year when he was lucky enough to travel to the United States as part of the CCUSA summer camp where he enjoyed being a lifeguard in the state of New York.
Lewis said one word of advice he would give to beachgoers before heading to the beach would be to check the conditions to know the best place to swim.
Thanks for the volunteer surf lifesavers
Wide Bay Capricorn Branch Surf Life Saving Coordinator Julie Davis praised the dedicated volunteer surf lifesavers for the tireless effort they had put in to keep the Bundaberg Region’s beach safe over the Christmas and New Year period.
“I want to thank, and take my hat off, to all of those who volunteered especially on Christmas Day,” Julie said.
“All the volunteers gave up their time on Christmas to patrol and keep the beaches safe and I thank them for their efforts.”
Julie said the beaches were extremely busy on Christmas Day with ideal conditions before the winds picked up on Boxing Day.
“On Boxing Day the east-south-easterly winds picked up and we have had a lot of water movement on the outgoing tide and strong shore dumps,” she said.
She reminded swimmers to swim between the red and yellow flags.
High number of beach visitors
Julie said beach visitation had been fantastic and the season was going well.
“I would also like to thank the public for doing the right thing when it comes to beach safety,” she said.
“It’s great to see the caravan parks around the area are full and the weather has drawn a lot of people to the beach.
“I wish everyone a happy and safe New Year and if any swimmers have any questions about where to swim, or the conditions they can approach one of the life savers on duty who is always happy to help.”
Lifesavers will be on extended duty on weekends and public holidays during the season with the red and yellow flags up from 8am to 6pm.
Bargara’s Kellys Beach and Nielson Park Beach will also have volunteer surf lifesavers on patrol at this time every day during the busy period.
Lots of benefits when becoming a volunteer life saver
Julie said the three local clubs were always looking for more volunteers and there were lots of benefits in becoming a surf life saver.
“Not only will people learn life saving skills, but also life long skills and it’s a great family environment too,” she said.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer surf life saver could contact either Elliott Heads Surf Life Saving Club, Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club or Moore Park Beach Surf Life Saving Club on Facebook.