Mayor Mark Jamieson, Division 3 Councillor Peter Cox and SLSQ regional manager Aaron Purchase at the new Bokarina Beach lifeguard tower. Photo: Ashley Carter
Mayor Mark Jamieson, Division 3 Councillor Peter Cox and SLSQ regional manager Aaron Purchase at the new Bokarina Beach lifeguard tower. Photo: Ashley Carter

Safety warning as school holidays bring beach crowds

Surf lifesavers are expecting a busy school holiday period on Sunshine Coast beaches as they celebrate the launch of the new Bokarina Beach lifeguard tower.

Saturday marks the beginning of Surf Life Saving Queensland’s official patrol season, just in time for the September school holidays.

SLSQ regional manager Aaron Purchase said after three drownings last year and the “worst year on record” in 2018, lifeguards and lifesavers were aiming for zero deaths on Coast beaches this season.

“Any drowning is a concern from our perspective, we want to see zero. We don’t want any tragedies on our beaches,” he said.

“We haven’t had any drownings between the flags here on the Sunshine Coast, so it is that safest spot to swim.”

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Sunshine Coast Council and Surf Life Saving Queensland has unveiled the new Bokarina Beach lifeguard tower. Photo: Ashley Carter
Sunshine Coast Council and Surf Life Saving Queensland has unveiled the new Bokarina Beach lifeguard tower. Photo: Ashley Carter

He said alarmingly, about 89 per cent of beach rescues in Queensland occurred with swimmers outside the flags.

“We really ask people to take that extra bit of time and walk that extra bit of distance to get into the flags and make the lifeguard and lifesavers’ jobs as easy as possible,” Mr Purchase said.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said the council’s $5.5 million investment in lifeguard services this financial year showed beach safety was a priority in the region.

“More than 20 areas across the Sunshine Coast will be patrolled by highly skilled lifeguards as well as lifesavers throughout the season,” he said.

“Incredibly, they performed 389 rescues, 4806 first aid treatments and provided 262,018 warnings to more than seven million visitors to our beaches last year.”

Division 3 Councillor Peter Cox said the Bokarina Beach lifeguard tower would be patrolled on weekends, public holidays and Queensland school holidays from September to May.

Nearby Dicky Beach is patrolled 365 days a year while Buddina Beach will be patrolled every day of the week from September to May.

Mr Purchase said there were more than 3600 lifesavers across the Coast, and encouraged anyone wanting to get involved to start volunteering at their local club.