Lifesavers start beach patrols
THE red and yellow flags have been hoisted on local beaches for the first time in months, marking the start of the surf life saving season.
The first patrol flags to be erected on the Far North Coast were placed in front of the Lennox Head/Alstonville SLSC on Saturday.
Lennox Head/Alstonville SLSC club captain Brian Dell hopes this season will be better than the last, when four people drowned on local beaches.
“There were two at South Ballina, one at Lighthouse Beach at Ballina and another at Suffolk Park,” he said.
“Usually we get one or two drownings, and the Far North Coast can be treacherous for swimmers.”
But with the flags up again, Mr Dell repeated the pleas of lifesavers across the region for swimmers to stay between the flags.
“None of those drownings last season occurred between the flags, and we’ve never lost anyone between the flags at Lennox,” he said.
“We patrol the whole beach, but it’s a case of being in the right place at the right time. We provide a safe area within the flags.”
Mr Dell also stressed the need for tourists to take particular care in the water.
“Most of the local kids don’t get into trouble – it’s nearly always tourists as a rule,” he said.
“They go to the beach and it looks nice, but we encourage people to come to the flags, don’t go anywhere they’re not sure of, and leave isolated beaches to the surfers.”
Mr Dell said last season wasn’t as busy as usual due to the poor weather.
“We had a real downturn in numbers due to the weather, but if we get good weather we’ll get a lot more people this year,” he said.
With the flags going up at the weekend, lifesavers will be patrolling the beach at Lennox Head throughout the week, with the season officially ending after Anzac Day next April.
And the youngsters aren’t missing out on the action.
Mac Dennis, of Brunswick Heads, has been named top Nipper in the Far North Coast division, and also received a highly commended at the State level.