Gunnamatta Surf Life Saving Club was formed in 1966 by a Committee of local citizens, with assistance from the then “Shire of Flinders” Council. "Gunnamatta", an aboriginal name meaning “beach and sandhills” is located at the end of Truemans Road in the National Park. Since 1966, lifesavers have been responsible for saving over 5,000 lives at Gunnamatta. Significantly, not one person has drowned in the patrolled section between the flags at Gunnamatta.
The original clubhouse consisted of an eight car garage of galvanized iron which was located on the beach. This very humble abode was replaced in 1971 by the more permanent brick structure now located behind the primary dune near the carpark. Stages 2, 3 and 4 have since been added to incorporate large storage areas for rescue equipment, a first aid room, communications room, kitchen and accommodation facilities.
The Club owns, operates and maintains equipment which includes Inshore Rescue Boats (IRBs), a 4WD beach vehicle and various rescue boards. Funding is via special events, members’ subscriptions, government grants and public donations.
Gunnamatta Surf Life Saving Club has come a long way in 57 years. For a Club that grew from a necessity to patrol a very dangerous section of the Mornington Peninsula coastline, we can now proudly hold our heads high and acknowledge a job well done. The journey continues but it could never have happened without the contribution, dedication and commitment displayed by all the members who have been involved with Gunnamatta over the past 57 years.
From its humble beginnings when there was a handful of patrol members under the leadership of Geoff Alsop and John Hewison, who commenced the Club’s first patrol in December 1966 sitting outside the “Tin Shed” perched on top of the primary sand dune with a couple of line & reels ready for action, who would have thought it would lead to a Club with in excess of 200 members, a multilevel Clubhouse, IRB’s performing rescues, ATV’s carting trailers across to the patrol areas, Bronze Camps, Nipper Programs – the list goes on!
The training and education requirements for the “modern” day Surf Life Saver varies enormously from all those years ago when the small sized “Blue Book” was the fundamental tool for obtaining your Bronze Medallion. Compared to today where there are numerous qualifications open to the Surf Life Saver to assist them in performing their duties, even down to the requirement for “Working with Children’s” checks – the changes are an enormous strain on the Club’s leaders and trainers to ensure the patrolman is proficient and ready for his tasks.
Gunnamatta has always had the fundamental goal of patrolling this treacherous piece of the coast, but it has also enjoyed some great times at numerous surf carnivals across the journey, starting with the March Past successes in the early 1970’s through to participation at carnivals through the ‘80’s, ‘90’s and 2000’s. These are opportunities for the members to get away from the pressures of patrol and receive the chance to compete with others in this great organisation.
Friendships have been formed, camaraderie is evident across the decades but the fundamental duty of patrolling Gunnamatta is what brings this great Club together. As much as the Club has been very fortunate with the leaders over the journey, as well as some very great characters, we must not forget the individuals who have walked in the doors, some have stayed a short while, others have remained for decades. Regardless each and every one of these individuals has been a valued member.