Bribie Island Surf Club

It’s hard to believe that the Bribie Island Surf Life Saving Club (BISLSC) has been serving the community for more than 93 years and will celebrate 10 decades (100 years) of community service in 2023. I had the pleasure to catch-up with Bribie Island Surf Club’s spokesperson and longest serving Official, Dianne Wells who has been part of the BISLSC for 27 years. As well as being a Distinguished Member of the BISLSC, Dianne Wells is an experienced and highly qualified Volunteer Surf Lifesaver and Leader having coached all surf lifesaving disciplines for 7 years from 1999 to 2006 and age managed a group of Nippers through all levels of surf awareness and surf safety from Under 8 to Under 14. 

Dianne spend some time talking about the BISLSC as well as providing me with an historic snapshot of the BISLSC based on a 75 Year Anniversary Memoir that was compiled by Peter Adams in 1998. The historic review showcases the 1920’s pictures of Harold and Bert Blake patrolling the Ocean Beach and talks about the first clubhouse hut that was built in 1927. The historic review also shares the story of when the Brisbane Metropolitan Lifesaving Club responded to a request by the Caloundra Council by sending some of the Bribie Island Surf Lifesaving Members to assist with providing the very first Royal Life Saving Patrols on Kings Beach, Caloundra and the subsequent founding of the Metropolitan-Caloundra Surf Lifesaving Club and the Bribie Island Surf Lifesaving Club in 1933. Prior to 1933, the Brisbane Metropolitan Club provided members to patrol Ocean Beach (Bribie Island). The historic snapshot also talks about the working relationship between the BISLSC and the World War II Army Department, when the Army Department ordered the closer of the Bribie Beach in 1942 and requested access to the clubhouse for Army purposes. Dianne Wells said, “The BISLSC has an extensive and proud history and has grown from strength to strength over the past 93 years.” In the 2016/17 period, the BISLSC significantly increased its membership which is the largest increase across the Regional Clubs and in terms of membership, BISLSC is the 8th largest club behind Mets Caloundra. Dianne Said, “We have approximately 558 members and about 130 active patrol members – of course we need many more active members to fulfil a variety of roles as Volunteer Surf Lifesavers at Bribie.”

As a BISLSC Official, Dianne Wells is passionate about the opportunity and life skills gained by children and adults who chose to volunteer and participate in the Surf Lifesaving Family at BISLSC and across Australia. Dianne was keen to point out that like all team players, Dianne is a Club Member First and fulfils any role that is needed at the BISLSC to be part of a successful future. It is worthwhile sharing some of the courses and awards on offer within Surf Lifesaving. The following awards are an extract taken from a BISLSC Member Award Record and highlights the diverse nature of Surf Lifesaving Training. Awards can include; Surf Coach Level 1; Surf Official Level 1; Surf Rescue Certificate (CPR Endorsed); Certificate IV in Training and Assessment; Design and Develop Assessment Tools; Design and Develop Learning Programs; Participate in Assessment Validation; Plan Assessment Activities and Processes; Plan Organise and Deliver Group Based Learning; Plan Organise and Facilitate Learning in the Workplace; Provide Work Skill instruction; These are just a handful of possible awards available to members of Surf Lifesaving Members.

I was fortunate enough to be handed a short article from BISLSC entitled, “Memories of the Days in the Surf Club Years as a Girl” written by Vicki Howard (Fernley) in 2013. The story is very relevant given that females were only accepted into Surf Lifesaving Clubs in Australia from 1980 (37 years ago) and Vicki was one of the first Female Nippers to receive her Certificate in Resuscitation in Febraury,1981. This is an exert taken from Vicki Howard’s story who started at BISLSC at the age of 11 years. Vicki said, “The comrade and mateship we had with the male club members was great, it felt like one big family. The knowledge from training and first aid carried on with me right through my work life. I was often the paid first aid officer, I worked on a summer camp in America and even though I was employed as the nanny for the director’s daughter, I was often called in to patrol the water area. (As they knew my experience and training in the surf club.) I am so pleased I experienced the surf club years growing up. I’m sure it helped in moulding me with the confidence, knowledge and social skills which was and still is valuable in my adult and working life.”

I asked Dianne Wells to answer a few questions about Bribie Island Surf Lifesaving Club and how the community can engage with the BISLSC in 2018.

Where is BISLSC Located?
Bribie Island Surf Club is located on the eastern side of Bribie Island, the closest surf beach to Brisbane. Bribie Island Surf Life Saving Club has been patrolling Woorim Beach, Bribie Island since December 1923.

What is the most exciting thing about being part of BISLSC?
After being involved with BISLSC for over 27 years (Since 1991), the most rewarding part of being part of BISLSC is the people you meet and the opportunity to teach, mentor, help and share knowledge with other surf lifesavers. The other important aspect in a club is the quality of members which is very high at BISLSC. I enjoy the challenge of an ocean swim and keeping fit.
How will the BISLSC manage 2018 Australia Day?
On this coming Australia day, 2018, one of our club’s ten patrols, (each patrol will consist of approximately of 9 -11 people) will include patrolling the Brennan Park venue water area to their volunteer duties as well as another group being required to patrol at Woorim beach.  It will be a tough few days.

How do you gain knowledge, skills and awards in Surf Lifesaving?
To be able to perform patrol duties and achieve award, all members must be proficient and able to complete a run swim run, be skilled in beach management rescue techniques and first aid and demonstrate and deliver preventative directions in public arenas. Members must be able to use multiple pieces of equipment and can achieve optional awards such as a Boat Licence.  

Can you undertake courses as a member of BISLSC?
Yes, you can undertake many types of course. Most courses are delivered by trainers within our club and our Sunshine Coast Branch.  The skills and knowledge gained from being involved in a lifesaving club helps to build confidence, social and leadership skills, which are carried on throughout life.  It is simple to become a lifesaver however to qualify for the surf bronze medallion requires participants to be over the age of 15 with a reasonable level of fitness.

How can my family become involved in Nippers?
Training and developing surf skills can begin as early as 5 years old. As age progresses so too does the level of knowledge and skill in surf awareness and safety, throughout the junior years at our family orientated Bribie Is Club. The club is also home to a large and very successful Junior Activities section, with a membership of approximately 200. Children from age 7-13 years enjoy this arena developing confidence in the surf, learning surf safety skills and having the opportunity to compete in the Surf Sports Arena.

How do we join the Bribie Island Surf Club?
To join Bribie surf club, contact can be made by email or come along and watch a training session for Nippers most Sunday mornings at Woorim beach over the summer months from September to March or phone during the admin office hours
34081188. The best way for a family to view the ‘Nippers in Action’ is to come down on a Sunday from 8.30am during the season Sunday – February and say hello.

Thank you to the Dianne Wells, BISLSC Official, President BISLSC, Jeff Butler and Vicki Howard (Fernley) for contributing and assisting with this story.


Phone (07) 3408 1188
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