Long-time Coast Guard volunteers John Loader and Ken McDonald look at photos from when the Kingscliff radio tower was first opened. On Sunday, the flotilla closed its doors for the last time.
Long-time Coast Guard volunteers John Loader and Ken McDonald look at photos from when the Kingscliff radio tower was first opened. On Sunday, the flotilla closed its doors for the last time. Liana Turner

End of an era as a flotilla finishes up

KEN McDonald and John Loader helped build the Coast Guard radio tower in Faulks Park, Kingscliff.

On Sunday, they were among almost 100 people who turned out to mark the end of the flotilla's 33 years of volunteer service.

Coast Guard groups have been under pressure since Marine Rescue NSW took to the water in January 2010. The State Government wanted them to join the new organisation. Kingscliff put up a fight, driven by pride in their decades of hard work.

The Kingscliff Coast Guard flotilla lowered their flag for the last time on Sunday.
The Kingscliff Coast Guard flotilla lowered their flag for the last time on Sunday. Liana Turner

While they haven't been able to conduct rescues since last year, the Coast Guard has continued manning the radios to ensure the safety of the boating community.

Flotilla commander Grant "Jack" Frost said in the end they had to close due to a lack of government funding. Former Commander John Purnell was in charge during negotiations to keep the Coast Guard in Kingscliff.

"63 members out of 65 at the time said no, we stay as Coast Guard," Mr Purnell said. As commander, he stuck by the Coast Guard.

"There's going to be lives lost out here sooner or later," he said.

The Kingscliff Coast Guard flotilla lowered their flag for the final time on Sunday.
The Kingscliff Coast Guard flotilla lowered their flag for the final time on Sunday. Liana Turner

Coastguard national commodore Ray Campbell said of all the groups in NSW, Kingscliff Coast Guard had fought hardest.

He said Marine Rescue NSW had expressed interest in taking over the Coast Guard facilities, but no agreement had been made.



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