Surf Lifesaving

A surf lifesaving carnival in the 1930s (AOT, PH30/1/8740)

Surf Lifesaving came to Burnie in 1915, when Sydneysider Tom Scott introduced it to his friends. One built a surf rescue reel, another made a cork and canvas belt, and in 1921 the Burnie Surf Life Saving and Swimming Club was formed. More clubs followed, and the first carnival in 1930 contained teams from Ulverstone, Devonport and Burnie. Clubs developed after the Second World War, Burnie buying the first surf boat, secondhand, in 1946. In the south, the Clifton Beach Surf Lifesaving Club was founded in 1963, and hosted the Australian titles in 1968.

At first surf lifesaving was a sport for men Burnie did not admit women to full membership until 1980 but in 1951 the Tasmanian Women's Surf Lifesaving Team created a sensation by beating strongly favoured mainland teams to win the Soden Shield for the still-water event. In 1999 Tasmania contained ten surf lifesaving clubs, with 847 male and 485 female members.

Further reading: D Young, Sporting Island, Hobart, 2005.

Alison Alexander and David Young