Tower of strength on the beach
LIFESAVERS say the shelter from heat, wind and glare provided by new semi-portable towers will improve swimmer safety at Cottesloe, North Cottesloe and City beaches.
“Their polarised windows give better vision, there’s better protection from the sun and blasting sand, and we can scan the entire beach from one spot,” Cottesloe Surf Life Saving Club rescuer Bruce Simpson said.
Last Friday, Premier Colin Barnett opened the one and two-man 4mhigh towers on the beach, funded by the State Government.
A third, one-man tower purchased by Cottesloe Council will go on North Cottesloe Beach, while a fourth will be operated at City Beach by Surf Life Saving WA.
Mr Barnett said towers for other beaches along the WA coast would be considered if the structures were successful.
The Government allocated $175,000 to buy and maintain the Cottesloe towers, costing $35,000 for the one-man model and $65,000 for the two-man version. The towers replace plans for a permanent watchtower that the Government allocated $300,000 from its Shark Hazard Mitigation Strategy for two years ago.
However, the watchtower’s design process failed to appease Cottesloe community concerns about aesthetics and Cottesloe SLSC’s desire for greater lifesaver facilities in the structure. There were also concerns about the ability to withstand storms and Aboriginal heritage issues at the potential location near Cottesloe Groyne.
Cottesloe SLSC president Ben Stephens said it would be investigated if the US imports could be adapted to sit on the groyne and provide greater southern views for lifesavers. However, it will have to be decided if having a tower further from the surf break would interfere with the time needed to get to emergencies, including potential spinal injuries, caused by crashing waves.
The towers arrived just in time for Australia Day and annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition crowds.
Cottesloe SLSC lifesavers James Jenkin and Bruce Simpson first manned the tower.