The Portsea Surf Life Saving Club was formed in 1949 by a group of local residents to protect the lives of swimmers at the notoriously dangerous Mt. Levy Beach, commonly referred to as the Portsea Back Beach. The beach is part of the Pt. Nepean National Park, which is managed by Parks Victoria. Since 1949 members have been responsible for saving over 4,500 lives on our beach. Since 1949 the Club has assisted over 1,500 young men and women to gain the Surf Life Saving Australia’s coveted Bronze Medallion.
The original clubhouse was constructed from a packing crate and was located 200 metres East of the clubhouse as we now know it. The first permanent structure was erected on the present site in 1960 and was upgraded in 1972 with the addition of more storage areas. In 1985 the Committee and members of the Club commenced a 2 year rebuilding project to restore the premises which were severely damaged in a storm. Considerable assistance was given by the Peninsula residents, business community and local service clubs. The operating budget of the Club is now in excess of $300,000 per season with the majority of this being provided by members Subscriptions, Special Events and Sponsorship. Additional funds are generated through public donations.
Equipment owned and operated by the Club in the daily operation of the service is valued at $140,000 and includes 10 modern Inshore Rescue Boats (IRBs) and engines, and a four-wheel drive beach vehicle. The Portsea Back Beach is patrolled by volunteer life savers every weekend from December 1st through to Easter. Regular patrol hours are 1:00 pm until 6:00 pm on Saturdays and 9:00 am until 6:00 pm on Sundays. In support of this a full time paid Lifeguard service operates from December 26th through till Australia Day. The hours of operation are Monday Friday 9:00 am until 6:00 pm and on Saturday from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm. This Lifeguard service is funded jointly by the Mornington Peninsula Shire and the Portsea Surf Life Saving Club for the safety of the many swimmers who use the beach during this peak holiday period.
Portsea is linked to the UHF radio network operated from the Victoria SLS headquarters at StKilda. This puts the 31 Surf Lifesaving Clubs in touch with the extensive range of backup equipment provided by various State and community emergency services. Portsea is assisted by the Southern Peninsula Rescue Squad (SPRS) rescue boats, specialised rescue and medical equipment), Coast Guard, and the Victoria Police. This extensive range of equipment provides rescue services along the entire length of the Victorian coastline.
In recent years attendance at the Portsea Back Beach has increased due to improved access to the Peninsula. In response to this the committee embarked on a recruiting drive to ensure a solid base from which to extend club operations into the future. Active membership currently stands at 300 with a further 1,200 associate members.
The Club constantly provides members to present lectures and give demonstrations on water safety to organisations and schools in the Mornington Peninsula area. The Club also conducts a live in Bronze Medallion Camp in December of each year. This camp provides intensive training for over 50 young people in the skills required to become a qualified Surf Lifesaver.
Children between the ages of 8 and 14 are encouraged to join in the fun of Surf Lifesaving by attending the Nipper program of instruction conducted through January of each year.
The Australian Surf Lifesaving Association provides young people with the ability to contribute to the safety of the community while at the same time gaining personal fitness and character development.