Call to review surf patrol hours

PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council has ignored pleas by surf experts to review the times lifeguards are on duty at our beaches.

Two of the area’s most revered surfing experts, Peter and Wayne Hudson, told Port News council needs to provide a patrolled beach later into the afternoon.

Their comments come after a 29-year-old man died at Flynns Beach at about 6pm on Tuesday.

The usual hours of the paid lifeguards are 9am until 4.30pm

A council spokeswoman said there would be no review of the patrol hours but pointed out their existing involvement in beach safety.

The full response from council appears on page 2 of today’s edition.

The Hudsons, from the Port Macquarie Surf School, who were involved in the attempted rescue on Tuesday, urged council to review the finishing times of their lifeguards.

“A lot of workers don’t finish until 4 or 5 pm and will pick their kids up straight after work and come to the beach for a swim,” Wayne said.

“Particularly if it’s a hot day.

“It doesn’t get dark until 7pm or later so there’s often still a lot of swimmers around when they finish.”

WAYNE didn’t stop there either. He said he would like to see at least one beach with a lifeguard year round.

“I would love to see that,” he said. “Even if it was just Town Beach so that swimmers and surfers had a safe beach to go to even in the off season.

“It at least gives them an option, they can swim at a safer patrolled beach, or, swim at an unpatrolled beach, at least then they have a choice.”

Chris Turnham, a former lifeguard and one of the first to give aid to the man who died on Tuesday, joined the chorus to extend the hours of lifeguards.

“I used to work for the council Lifeguards a few years back and I’m sure they had longer hours then,” he said.

“I think council cut back on the hours though to save money. Even if they start 30 minutes later in the morning and work an hour later in the afternoon, that would be a real help, and it’s only an increase of 30 minutes.”

He said a painted warning sign should also be erected on the rocks at the northern end of the beach. 

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