Backward Glance: Happy summer holidays (part 2)
  • Wednesday 02 January 2019

With the arrival of the New Year period, many lucky people take time to enjoy their summer holidays at the beach, relaxing and sometimes exploring our beautiful Sunshine Coast.

When visiting the beach for a swim you will see the volunteer surf lifesavers who, for more than 100 years, have watched over swimmers on the beach and in the water. 

Their selfless acts keep us all safe on the beaches of the Sunshine Coast.

Remember the most important rule is to swim between the flags at a patrolled beach. If the lifesavers can’t see you they can’t save you.

Today, whether it’s a day trip or an extended holiday with family and friends, the Sunshine Coast has plenty to offer the holiday maker.

Bulcock Beach is a popular swimming spot with a long history.

Small rowing boats with names such as The White Fleet or Red Fleet, were once available for hire.

This spot close to Happy Valley is where Caloundra’s first swimming carnivals were held and local children learnt to swim.

The attraction of the diving boards that enticed the big kids to jump bravely into the deep water are still talked of today.

This area is a great spot for a family picnic with shaded trees not far from the beach and a children’s playground close by.

Gone is the avid fisherman hiring a boat from The White Fleet to row to a special spot to try his luck catching dinner for his family.

Imagine the adventure of rowing family or friends to the nearby deserted tip of Bribie Island or to explore an isolated area once full of golden wattle blooms we know now as Golden Beach. 

The “old salts” of the sea, the early fishing families, conducted many brave rescues at places such as the mouth of Pumicestone Passage or the Maroochy River, where caution was required then, as it is now.

They often rowed valiantly through the treacherous sweeping channels to assist those whose boat had been turned over by a freak wave on the river bar. 

Today we have modern vessels and the Coast Guard officers who volunteer their time to assist stricken vessels in the waters off the Sunshine Coast.

The early days and stories depicted in photographs identify brave volunteer lifesavers who swam out in heavy surf with the help of a belt man and another lifesaver managing the rope on the surf reel to rescue those in perilous situations at the coastal beaches. 

A proud long-standing surf life saving club is Maroochydore.

In November 1924, Maroochydore opened a new clubhouse and ambulance centre.

The hardwood building was erected on the site of the present Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club house by the Maroochydore Ambulance and Life Saving Society, with assistance from the Chamber of Commerce.

This building had a double purpose of housing the Ambulance Transport Brigade for medical assistance and the life saving club. 

As time went on, rescue methods changed from those formative years.

Newer procedures of rescue saw surf lifesavers launching large wooden planked boats and rowing out to rescue those in trouble.

Today the “boaties” still row these large vessels in competition but the modern jet-ski, fibreglass paddle boards and inflatable “rubber duck” boats are a much more efficient and faster means of aiding those in trouble.

Here on the Sunshine Coast, during the holidays and throughout the year, the Helicopter Rescue Service is on standby.

It is one of Australia’s longest running community, not for profit, helicopter services.

Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club was the first surf club to provide a helicopter surf patrol.

It was Sunshine Coast’s community-minded businessmen, Des Scanlan and Roy Thompson, who recognised this need for a fast rescue helicopter to quickly retrieve and deliver the sick and injured to medical care in all areas whether at the beach or in road side accidents.

The first service was organised for the 1976-77 holiday season by Bill Buhk Jr, a life member and president of Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club.

Today, this rescue service also trains and prepares personnel for beach side and ocean-going emergencies, as well as assistance in the hinterland region, when required.

Gone are the days when a three-seater Bell helicopter was used for patrol with members of the Alexandra Headland club as crew.

Today there is a modern well-equipped helicopter service with the latest medical equipment and qualified medical staff to assist all in times of need.

The large guest houses that lined the beaches and looked towards the sea from places such as Montville and Bald Knob are now replaced by boutique cottages and accommodation in resorts, units and caravan parks, offering all of the luxuries the modern holiday maker enjoys. 

The tent is still popular and enjoyed by many.

Some camping sites now advertise “glamping” a glamorous style of camping with amenities and resort-style services not usually associated with traditional tents with a flap for a door.

Whatever type of accommodation you choose when visiting the Sunshine Coast this summer, enjoy your stay, be safe and don’t forget your sunscreen.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.


Main photo:  Boats on the Mooloolah River at Mooloolaba, January 1958