LISTEN: ‘They’ve signed a death warrant’

A RIP out the front of Agnes Water main beach - nicknamed by locals as 'backpackers rip' will be left unpatrolled during the week, from Monday.

"They've effectively signed someone's death warrant," former Agnes Water Surf Club president Ernie Vaughan says.

"There's a rip out the front of the where you walk onto the beach down there, and we call it backpackers' rip because we are forever going in there and pulling them out. They just can't judge the conditions.

"I can't speak on behalf of Surf Life Saving Queensland, but I can honestly see a death happening there - it's not a case of 'if' it's a case of 'when' - that's how serious this is."

Ernie Vaughan, former Agnes Surf Lifesaving Club President
Ernie Vaughan, former Agnes Surf Lifesaving Club President Tegan Annett

On Monday funding for surf lifesavers to patrol Agnes Water beach seven days a week runs out; the council voting not to increase funding to Surf Life Saving Queensland.

Mr Vaughan, who patrolled Agnes Water main beach for three years, says tourists are often caught out by the conditions.

Hostel owners say there's a steady stream of tourists arriving from Monday to Friday and they head straight for the beach.

Agnes Water attracts more than 50 backpackers each week from May to September and Mr Vaughan said it's the tourists who need the advice and protection of lifesavers.

"Agnes is the only place in our region where there are busloads of backpackers arriving every day, all year. If people start drowning at Agnes they will start passing us by because it will become known as a dangerous place."

Mr Vaughan's concerns have been echoed by Agnes surf school instructor Wayne 'Grom' Mellick who agreed the "backpackers' rip" posed a serious threat.

"At some stage during the day we always get a rip going out that way," Mr Mellick said.

"It's a shame because we really do need that and obviously for tourism it does give us that strength and identity we are a town on the move.

"I know there are tough times out there but we really unfortunately do need to have those services."

Earlier this month a request from Surf Life Saving Queensland for an increase of $30,000 in funding (on top of the $200,000 the council already contributes to the service) was rejected by the council.

For the past three years surf life saving has stumped up the cash, but with local governments across the state tightening their belts, the charity organisation says it can no longer afford the expense.



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