The Denmark Surf Life Saving Club was officially formed on the 28th of November 1958 after a double fatality a few days earlier on the 23rd of November. The earliest recorded drowning at Ocean Beach included a family of seven in 1911 and over the years several more lives were lost. After the double fatality in 1958 a public meeting was held in the town and a lifesaving club was formed. Eric Caporn was elected the inaugral president and Norm Sisson the first captain. The first patrol commenced Sunday 14 December 1958.
By the end of 1960, the first clubhouse was built and is still in use today housing the patrol equipment, members’ boards and the kiosk. The clubhouse provided a venue to train the first Ocean Beach surf life saving group who were awarded the Bronze Medallion in 1962.
Due to the exceptional surf conditions, Denmark SLSC was awarded the right in 1968 to host the WA State Surf Life Saving Championships. In spite of the logistical difficulties for the organisers, the Championship was hailed as a major success and talked about for many years after.
Over 25 years later, new club rooms were built. Late 1987 saw the completion of the 2 story club house with a much needed function room, kitchen and toilet facilities plus extensive storage space.
In 1999 and in 2008, Denmark SLSC hosted the Surf Life Saving WA Country Carnival which attracted many clubs from around WA. Again, the events were a great success with big surf making for exciting races.
From the small and dedicated group of surf club pioneers numbering around 18 active members in 1964 to 66 active members in 2009. Patrols have been extended to include full time paid life guards during the summer school holidays and voluntary patrols on Saturday afternoons, plus the usual all day Sunday patrols.
Location and Conditions
The club is situated at Ocean Beach, just ten kilometers from the town of Denmark. The mouth of Wilson’s Inlet broaches a sand bar into the Southern Ocean just to the north east of the club’s patrol area and club house. For much of the year the bar is closed enabling easy access to the northern shores of the bay. During the summer patrol period the club carries out roving patrols into this area as it is used by many people for fishing , surfing and swimming. Denmark Surf Life Saving Club is off Ocean Beach Road on an “A” Class Reserve vested in the Shire of Denmark.
The Shire of Denmark has a population of about 4500 and is a coastal town about 400 km’s south of Perth and 50 km’s west of Albany. This steadily expanding tourist area has a treacherous but spectacular coastline that has been the cause of many tragedies over the years. The club has been involved with the police and other search and rescue organizations many times encompassing an area from Ocean Beach to west of Walpole in the search and recovery of bodies and others swept from fishing rocks and from boating accidents. The skill of the club members in their local knowledge, boat driving and crewing skills, navigation and radio skills and cooperation with other emergency service personnel is well known and often called upon.
The current premises are owned by the club on land leased from the Shire of Denmark. The original club house which is used as a boat shed and kiosk is where the patrols are operated from. The lower building also houses the first aid room which deals with any first aid cases as required. This building was officially opened in 1960 having built by club members. The newer building sits behind the old one and was opened in January 1988. This building has two stories with the lower one for boat storage and a gym with the upper level doubling as an education, training and function room.
Ocean Beach is well known for its surf, clear blue water and white sand stretching around the bay. Due to its proximity to a caravan park and town it is the most popular beach in the area and a popular tourist attraction. Ocean Beach is also well known for its treacherous waters with frequent huge southern swells and a constant rip running close to the swimming area. In a recent study commissioned by Surf Life Saving Australia, Ocean Beach gained the dubious distinction of being named the state’s most dangerous patrolled beach.
A detailed history of Denmark SLSC has been published. ‘Green & Gold: The story of the Denmark Surf Life Saving Club 1958-1998’ provides fascinating insight and an accurate and detailed account of the club’s history, including its beginnings, struggles, successes and culture. A new book covering the last 10 years ‘Green and Gold Ten years to Fifty: Continuing the history of the Denmark Surf Life Saving Club 1998-2008’ was also launched in 2008. Copies of both books are available for sale from the club administration office.
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