Kingscliff trial lifeguards keeping busy
SEASIDE fun has been a safer this summer, with North Kingscliff trial lifeguards keeping an eye out for locals and tourists alike.
Northern NSW lifeguard coordinator Scott McCartney said they've seen strong crowds every day since the trial commenced.
"The weather conditions have been good, so we've seen plenty of tourists as well as locals living on the north end of Kingscliff," Mr McCartney said.
He said there were a significant number of rescues over the Christmas and New Years period - including two locals who were swimming over 200m south of the flags.
"It's still tricky with locals; it's harder to get them to swim between the flags," Mr McCartney said.
"We're just trying to get it through to them."
Mr McCartney said the lifeguard service is much-needed in North Kingscliff, especially over summer when neighbouring holiday parks are full to the brim with holidaymakers.
"I believe it's definitely warranted," Mr McCartney said.
"Ultimately, I want every part of our beaches protected, because it creates a safe environment for locals and visitors."
Mr McCartney said he hopes the trial - a joint venture between NSW Lifeguard Service and Tweed Shire Council - could evolve into a more permanent agreement, at least for the Christmas period.
"The council does a great job of keeping the Tweed Coast patrolled," Mr McCartney said.
"But there's always limited funding."
Mr McCartney said they would be taking the statistics to council when the trial finishes in a week and a half.
He added while most people act safely in the water, some people tend to swim alone, particularly very early or late in the day.
"When there's less people around, there's a greater chance you may get in trouble," Mr McCartney said.
He added the most important thing to ensure your own safety is to swim between the flags.
"It doesn't matter if you're a local and you think you know the beach," Mr McCartney said.
"We always urge everyone to swim between the flags."
Andrew Illingworth, business development officer at Tweed Coast Holiday Parks, thought it was great to have one of the patrols situated directly outside the caravan park.
"I'd certainly like to see them there again," he said.
"But obviously it comes at a cost."