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Point Lonsdale: Surf Life Saving Club

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Point Lonsdale: Life Saving Station

The Opening of the Life Saving Station (the predecessor of the Surf Life Saving Club) at Point Lonsdale, to commemorate W.T. Seabrook's courage and death.
Source : News of the Week, January 21st, 1915 (Geelong Historical Records Centre)


Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club logoThe History of the Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club : 1947 - 1997



The in-coming post war popularity of people visiting ocean beaches was foreseen by Mr Jack Meehan, who was the Secretary and Senior Instructor of the Williamstown Swimming and Life Saving Club.

He and another member of the Williamstown club, Mr Bill Tyrell, who was the Chief Instructor saw the need to establish a Surf Life Saving Club at Point Lonsdale. The experience and training gained in a surf environment partly motivated this idea, as it would benefit the Williamstown Club with the experience that the members gained in the surf.

In 1946, the Williamstown Swimming and Life Saving Club wrote to the Borough of Queenscliffe, suggesting that there was a need to establish a Surf Life Saving Club in Point Lonsdale. A meeting was held, with the assistance of Mr Alex Lowe, who was the proprietor of the General Store in Point Lonsdale, however there was not a great deal of community interest in the idea. A subsequent meeting proved to be more successful, with a group from the local Youth Club showing interest. Some time later, another meeting was held and a committee was formed to establish the Club. That Summer, patrols were conducted to assist the members in ‘gaining experience in the surf’. The main aim of their training during the first season was for the members to gain their Surf Bronze, which was examined at the Torquay beach. Records of who were the first members for that season are unclear, but eleven Point Lonsdale members gained their Surf Bronze in February of 1948.

For the first season, the only equipment consisted of a Reel, Line and Belt, which was loaned by the Williamstown Club.

In March of 1947, the Progress Association wrote to the Borough of Queenscliffe, requesting that the club be permitted to occupy the Seabrook Memorial, adjacent to the ‘Step’s Beach’ at Point Lonsdale. Council had agreed and by the following season, the Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club had a Clubhouse, at the top of the sand dune, over looking the Step’s Beach. In 1964, the current Clubhouse (located at the corner of Buckley’s and Ocean Road was officially opened and in 1982, the Surf Rescue Base was officially opened at the Glaneuse Surf Beach.

The Point Lonsdale Surf Life Saving Club was now established, had a Clubhouse, provided Surf Rescue Patrols at Point Lonsdale and was competing at Surf Life Saving Carnivals. Surf Rescue Patrols have been provided continuously during the ‘Summer Period’ at the Step’s Surf Beach and now at the Glaneuse Surf Beach.

The other major development in the formation of the club, was the establishment of the Junior Activities (Nippers) Program in 1967. This training program was a major initiative to the club as it trained children in surf awareness, surf life saving competition, basic first aid and resuscitation, as well as being an avenue to membership recruitment. While the club celebrates it’s 50 anniversary, it also marks 30 years of the Junior Activities Program at Point Lonsdale.


Since formation in 1947, there have been 997 officially recorded rescues, by volunteer members at Point Lonsdale, during regular Surf Rescue Patrols. This figure does not include rescues performed out of the normal patrol area, at times other than patrol periods, by members as part of other surf rescue services or rescues which have not been officially recorded. If these were all added, the figure would be several hundred higher. Thousands of First Aid cases have been performed, fourteen persons have been resuscitated and thousands of rescues have been prevented, by the advise and warnings given to beach users.

Over the years, there has been a large development in the type of equipment utilised by Surf Rescue Patrols. In the early days, the Reel, Line and Belt was the primary piece of rescue equipment. In time, the Surf Boat was introduced, so to was the Rescue Board. Today, the Rescue Tube, Inflatable Rescue Boat and Rescue Board are the primary pieces of rescue equipment. The days of equipment such as the Eve Rocker are long gone, with modern oxygen resuscitation and advanced first aid equipment being used. Modern two way radio equipment is used for patrol communication and for liaison with other Clubs, Surf Life Saving - Victoria and other Rescue Services.

There have been many significant rescues performed by members of the club and a number of bravery awards given to Point Lonsdale members for their heroic efforts. Some of the major rescues have been:

  • In March of 1953, a mass rescue alarm was raised by the Lonsdale Lighthouse keeper. Eleven students were swimming at the unpatrolled (Glaneuse) Surf Beach. Fortunately, some local life savers were found and ten of the students were retrieved from the heavy surf. Unfortunately one of the students drowned. Two lifesavers, Mr Jim Howden and Mr Fred Moore received the Bronze Medal Award of the Royal Humane Society for their gallant efforts on this day.
  • While members competed at a Surf Carnival at Ocean Grove in 1955, the alarm was raised from Queenslciff, for a group of swimmers in trouble and a team was sent to rescue those who got into difficulty. After the delay in reaching the scene, one person was found and resuscitated, while the other was lost.
  •  In November of 1968, two swimmers got into difficulty, while swimming at the Surf Beach. Conditions were unfavourable and surf life savers had earlier closed the beach, due to the unsafe conditions. Many lifesavers were involved in a very dangerous and prolonged rescue. Two lifesavers, Mr Barry Watt and Mr Bob Luce swam out with Belt attached, but were unable to reach the pair. A surf board was used by another lifesaver, Mr Rob Anderson, but he was also unable to reach the pair, who ended up being washed up unconscious on the reef, at the beach at the end of Fellows Road. One was successfully resuscitated and the other was not.
  • In 1983, two members, Mr Alan Joyce and Mr David Ponsford who were on duty in the Surf Life Saving Offshore Rescue Boat, were called to a SCUBA diving rescue at Queenscliff. The young female diver had collapsed after several dives. She was unconscious, had no pulse or breathing and would have died, except for the efforts of these two members. She was successfully resuscitated and fortunately made a full recovery.
  • Also in 1983, two members, Mr Tim Maishman and Mr Neil Heathcote were training in St Kilda on their surf skis. They noticed four people lying face down in the water, with one man dragging one of the four. He lost contact with the little girl, but luckily the two lifesavers recovered her. She was unconscious and was without a pulse. Fortunately she was successfully resuscitated and the other three were taken safely back to shore. The two members received a bravery award from the City of Melbourne, for their efforts at this unpatrolled beach.

The Point Lonsdale Club has done very well in recent years in the State Patrol Efficiency Competition, which is organised by Surf Life Saving - Victoria. The Competition is designed to test all facets of patrolling from the thoroughness of log books, to rescue and resuscitation technique, amongst the 32 Victorian Surf Life Saving Clubs. The major achievement was during the 1991 / 1992 season, when Point Lonsdale won the Competition. In the 1992 / 1993 season, the Club was placed second and in the 1996 / 1997 season, the Club was placed third.


Point Lonsdale: Surf Life Saving championships

Australian Ladies Surf Boat Champions
Kurrawa, Queensland 1997 :
Steven Blewett, Mandy Loftus-Hills, Anna McFarlane, Jody Dobson, Sue Chapman-Poppa

Point Lonsdale: Surf Life Saving championships

Australian Senior Boat Champions
Scarboro, WA 1965 :
L to R : Keith Hodgson, Saul Kybartas, Mike Foley, Peter Crook, John Turner

Point Lonsdale: Surf Life Saving championships

Australian Surf Boat Race Champions
Dee Why, NSW 1975 :
Lance Hatley, Gary McKellar, Peter Grant,
Bob Luce, Rex Dale

Point Lonsdale: Surf Life Saving championships

Australian Surf Boat Race Champions
Clifton Beach, Tas 1976 :
Peter Grant, John Charles, John Poole,
Bob Luce, Rex Dale

The Point Lonsdale club has had a long and distinguished history in Surf Life Saving Competition. In the first season, competitors attended every Surf Carnival that was conducted along the Victoria coast. In the first Australian Championships attended by the Club in 1948, a Rescue and Resuscitation team (the first ever from Victoria) represented the club at Manly. The successful competition areas in the early years were those of Rescue and Resuscitation, Surf Swimming and the March Past. Point Lonsdale was the first Victorian club to receive a place in the Australian Titles, when Mr Des Webb gained a third place in the Senior Belt Race Title. Since formation, there have been over 90 Victorian Titles won in these areas.

As time went on, the club’s major successes were in the area of Surf Boats. The club has achieved outstanding results in this area, making the Club the most successful in Victoria and one of the most successful in Australia, in the area of Surf Boats. Point Lonsdale was the first Victorian (and in fact the first club outside of NSW) to win a Senior Men’s Surf Boat title at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.

The first of three titles was won in the 1964 / 1965 season at Scaraborough, Western Australia. The second title was won at Dee Why, New South Wales in the 1974 / 1975 season. The record making third title was won in 1975 / 1976 at Clifton Beach in Tasmania. In recent times, the success has continued at the Australian Championships. At the 1994 / 1995 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, an Invitational Women’s Surf Boat race was conducted, which was won by Point Lonsdale. The following season, the race was cancelled due to unsafe conditions. In the 1996 / 1997 season, the Australian Titles were conducted at Kurrawa, Queensland. The Ladies crew won the first Senior Women’s Boat Race title, which is now an regular event at the national championships.

It is also worthy to note that in 1953, the Boat Crew made history by rowing from Williamstown to Point Lonsdale (with the assistance of relief crews).

As well as these outstanding results at a National level, an impressive 25 Victorian titles have been won by various Surf Boat crews over the years.

The other major success area was that of the Ironman. Our most successful individual competitor and one of the most successful Victorian competitors has been Steve Mc Bean. Steve’s biggest achievement was that of coming second in the first Coolangatta Gold event, which propelled the Ironman event into the popular series that it is today. His other major achievements included reaching 2 Australian Title Finals, 8 Victorian Titles, reaching 9 Victorian Title Finals, Senior Club Champion for 6 seasons and Junior Club Champion for 2 seasons.

Last Updated on Monday, 11 May 2009 05:19  

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