Calls for a lifesaving club at Black Head started as early as 1915 after the near drowning of four people.1 Ten years later in 1925, the surf club officially opened.2
While rescues have been a part of regular duty, a special rescue happened in Taree in 1929. Black Head and Taree-Old Bar Surf Clubs have always shared a close relationship and this was evident in the following event. The flood that hit Taree in February 1929 is held in the community’s memory as one of the worst natural disasters in the region. The flood waters arrived with suddenness such that residents had no time to reach safety. Children were put up into the ceiling rafters by parents to keep them safe while others stood on tables to escape the rising waters.
Their saviours surprisingly arrived in a surf boat. Members of the Black Head and Taree-Old Bar Surf Clubs had joined together to effect the rescue of 25 people at Taree Estate by transporting them to places of safety. After several hours it was discovered that residents were in trouble on the other side of the Manning River at Glenthorne and Purfleet. So the crew crossed the treacherous river and saved another 30 people.
The next morning the crew rose at 4:30 am and began delivering food and saving animals. When they finished at 8 pm and returned to Taree people, who had been watching the rescues from the hotel balconies, spontaneously cheered for the lifesavers.3
1 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 24 February 1915.
2 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 30 September 1925.
3 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 13 February 1929.
4 MidCoast Library Collection