Community gets behind flags: ‘There’s been so many tragic drownings’

Canberra tourist Rachael Thompson and her son Moss on Tathra Beach this week with lifeguard Jordan Rettke. Photo: Alasdair McDonald
Canberra tourist Rachael Thompson and her son Moss on Tathra Beach this week with lifeguard Jordan Rettke. Photo: Alasdair McDonald

Lifeguards will again patrol Tathra Beach throughout February, despite no Bega Valley Shire Council funding.

The Tathra and District Chamber of Commerce’s Rob White said at least 10 businesses have shown their support and helped fund the $12,000 needed.

Canberra’s Rachael Thompson swam at Tathra Beach on Friday with her 14 month old son Moss, and said many tourists choose lifeguard patrolled beaches for their holidays.

“Having kids you just want the extra security in place so it’s safe to swim,” she said.

“If I knew this was patrolled I would definitely come here.

“Tathra is just getting more and more people, I think this year it was just chockers.”

Mr White said council should fund lifeguards for three Far South Coast beaches during February, and at least two until the Easter holiday period.

“Council need to look at their whole strategy in terms of lifeguarding along the coast,” he said.

“The model they use in the Shoalhaven has one beach patrolled until Easter.”

He said a series of summer drownings makes lifeguards essential for the region’s beaches.

“There’s been so many tragic drownings this summer with people not swimming between the flags,” he said.

“We want to promote ourselves as a beach-going destination.”

Last year there was an average of 308 people on Tathra Beach each day through February, he said.

“There were a number of rescues,” Mr White said.

“In February you get your ‘grey nomads’ and young toddlers who appreciate the valuable community service lifeguards provide.

“We also get a lot of local and visiting schools who also take advantage of it through the month.”

Lifeguards also have the ability to close a beach when sharks are sighted, he said.

He said increased patrols would also create work.

“It’s a good job saving lives, and a good thing for young people to do,” he said.

“It looks great on their resume.”

Businesses in Tathra and Bega have helped fund the lifeguard program over the last three years, making Tathra the only seven day a week flagged beach during February south of Ulladulla.

“It has all turned out really well,” Mr White said.

“With the council funding falling through completely we were looking to get businesses on board.

“We’ve had good support.”