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Local surf lifesaver shares stories of ‘shark’ close calls, stingers and all the laughs

Posted: 2pm 30 Nov 2018

BRYAN Box has been an integral part of the Bribie Island Surf Lifesaving Club since he was five. He tells us why Woorim is such a great beach for families as summer arrives, and looks back on some lighter moments on patrol.

Q. What’s the funniest moment you’ve had on patrol?

A. Probably the best one is a couple of my patrol members being tricked by a shadow of a kite and setting off the shark alarms. They looked at each other and tripped the alarm to find out moments later that it was a kite. We had to explain after clearing the ocean that it was a mistake. I was the patrol captain at the time and heard the alarm go off.

Q. What was your toughest day at the beach?

A. One would be when we had rare stingers called the morbakka stinger or Moreton Bay box jelly fish on a very busy day. It was a Boxing Day in the 1990s and we sent seven or eight people to hospital.

Q. How long have you been with Bribie Island Surf Lifesaving Club?

A. I was a nipper at Bribie and started in 1974 when I was five years old. My older brothers were there when nippers began in 1968.

Q. Why did you join?

A. It was a family thing that everyone did and most of the kids from my neighbourhood did it too.

Q. What do you love about it?

A. That it’s a community service that people from a whole lot of backgrounds come together for a common purpose … the diversity of people involved and ages. People are patrolling into their 60s and 70s. It helps our older ones feel young and gives us a reason to stay fit.

Q. Why is the nippers program so important?

A. Not every nipper goes on to life saving but every kid learns something about ocean safety from nippers. For those that go into life saving, it gives you that depth of experience about the ocean. It helps give you that background and it forms friendships that last 30, 40 or 50 years.

Q. Is there a rivalry between clubs, and how does Bribie rate compared to bigger clubs on the Gold and Sunshine coasts?

A. There’s a degree of rivalry but only in competition. As a small club, we just have to target our competition. You choose things you can work on and develop. That’s where we have had success over the decades. Beach sprinting has been strong at Bribie for decades and we also have good IRB (inflatable rescue boat) racing teams.

Q. Do you get frustrated by swimmers doing the wrong thing? What’s your message to them?

A. On certain days when you know it’s dangerous out there. Having been involved in resuscitation and rescue myself … it takes a while to get over. You don’t want young lifesavers having to do that. You just wish that everyone would follow the ‘swim between the flags’ mantra. It’s pretty frustrating. Sometimes people over-estimate their abilities. There are days I look at and think ‘I wouldn’t go out there’ and you see people out there away from the flags.

Q. Why is Woorim such a great beach for families?

A. Most of the time there’s pretty safe conditions, there’s easy access and lots of parking. It’s close to where a lot of people come from … we’re getting a lot of people from Brisbane, Caboolture, Narangba and Burpengary. In recent years, it’s become a very diverse cultural beach compared to other beaches on the Sunshine Coast. I think people get recommendations when staying with friends and relatives because it is safe.

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