Ninety years young, the Townsville Picnic Bay Surf Life Saving Club not only keeps us safe on the beach but also offers a chance to learn life skills and make lasting friendships.
A member of the Townsville Picnic Bay Surf Life Saving Club for 20 years, Darrin Bragg has grown up to become its proud president.
“The Club has been a part of Townsville’s community for 90 years, originating at Picnic Bay on Magnetic Island before opening the clubhouse on The Strand,” Darrin says. “It’s a very important part of my life watching the young nippers from Under 7s grow up to become young lifesavers to members who are still involved and giving well into their retirement years. The friendship and camaraderie made through the Club lasts a lifetime.”
The Club prides itself on patrolling two beaches – one on Magnetic Island and the other on The Strand. One of the few clubs that do this on Queensland beaches, this takes a major commitment from Club members.
“The red and yellow flags are iconic on Queensland beaches and it’s a part of Australian culture that people feel safer when they see them,” Darrin says. “We may not have a large surf here but we have other hazards like jellyfish and crocodiles to deal with. I can tell you that if you’re stung by a box jellyfish you’ll want the lifesavers there to help you quick-smart as they’re taught to handle these situations.”
The Club’s lifesavers undertake yearly proficiencies in resuscitation and first aid and are offered ongoing courses to continue to hone their skills. There is also an opportunity to attend camps at a local and state level where participants are taught leadership and team skills.
“Surf lifesaving has strong core values including friendship, volunteerism and community involvement,” Darrin says. “Townsville Picnic Bay SLSC is a family-based club with members encouraged to participate at all levels from volunteering their time to competing for us at a national level. People are time poor and children have so many options these days but we try to give them some life skills.”
The Club is also known for its fun social atmosphere and there is a bunk room at the Magnetic Island clubhouse where members can go over and stay for the weekend.
“This is also used for camps with our younger members where they take part in social activities like the Great Race around Magnetic Island to surf ski paddling riding boards,” Darrin says. “It’s a chance for them to experience life away from Mum and Dad and hopefully technology too.”
The Club offers all aspects of surf sports, catering from nippers through to masters competitors. Whether you just want to be involved for fun and fitness or you’re a serious contender, there’s a place for you.
“We sent a team of 25 to the junior state titles in Hervey Bay earlier in the year and came home with some medals,” Darrin says. “We also sent competitors to state and Australian senior state titles and won medals there as well.”
This year’s overall club champion in the nippers is Will Pascoe from the U11 age group.
“He trains hard, and is continually improving, but is also regularly involved in our fundraising,” Darrin says. “We encourage our younger members to help out in these areas and we find they are only too happy to help. It also benefits them in the long-run as it allows them to access travel subsidy and new equipment.”