The surf lifesaving members awarded a group bravery citation.
The surf lifesaving members awarded a group bravery citation. Contributed

Bundaberg SLSC honoured for fishing shack flood rescue

WHEN Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club member Martin Cole was called in by the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service swift water crew around lunchtime on January 27, 2013, he thought he would be home in time for dinner.

Instead he spent the night on the beach with QFRS's Trevor Farraway and three people and their dog, who the pair had rescued from the roof of a fishing shack on the banks of the Kolan River at Booyan.

Mr Cole and Mr Farraway are part of a seven-member rescue team who have been recognised with a group Bravery citation at this year's Australian Bravery Awards.

Moore Park Surf Life Saving Club members Julie Davis, John Davis, Reid Tucker, Joanna Tolvanen and Queensland Fire and Rescue Service's Andrew Smith make up the team who took part in the dramatic rescue during the 2013 floods.

With no clear directions Mr Cole and Mr Farraway set out in a surf life saving club IRB to investigate a call for help.

Mr Farraway said initially they put the boat in near the Moore Park Caravan Park but later found out the house was located somewhere near Bailies Rd.

"I had local knowledge of the area and knew there where some fishing shacks on the banks of the Kolan River," Mr Farraway said

Setting out across the cane paddocks, they approached two shacks that were under water.

"The river was moving so quick, anything you can imagine was coming down, there were whole gum trees, farming equipment, fridges," he said.

"A few things had whacked the side of the boat and each time I was just hoping I wouldn't see a heap of bubbles.

"I asked Martin if he wanted to keep going and if there was no one at the next shack we were going to turn around."

Approaching the third shack, Mr Farraway said they saw someone's head pop up and knew they had found who they were looking for.

"They'd woken up to find the shack full of water and had to smash a window to get out," he said.

"The woman was in her 80s and she'd been pulled through the broken window.

"She had deep laceration to her legs and was sitting in a pool of blood when we arrived."

Mr Cole said once everyone was in the boat they tried to go back the way they had come to meet the ambulance.

"We tried to go up the river and get upstream against the current but with the weight in the boat and the current we couldn't," he said.

Deciding the north side of Moore Park Beach was the best option, they headed there, not realising the river had cut the beach, making it impossible for a four-wheel drive to reach them.

Mr Smith, who was in radio contact with Mr Cole and Mr Farraway was with the Moore Park Beach Surf Life Saving Club members who managed to locate a property close by and commissioned a jet ski to transport first aid supplies and water to the stranded group.

Braving rough conditions at first light they then took another boat to the group and together they all made their way up the river to safety.



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