1. List: Australian Water Safety - Black Sunday, Bondi Beach (6th February 1938)
    Australian Water Safety - Black Sunday, Bondi Beach (6th February 1938) thumbnail image
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    Topic Area: Australian Water Safety

    Research Question: How did the 1938 Black Sunday incident at Bondi Beach impact the importance of Australian Water Safety?




    From the earliest point in Australian history it is clear that the beach plays a significant role in Australian life. Over the years as a result of the constant interaction of the Australian society and the beach, a very internationally unique beach culture has developed and is subjected to constant evolution. In response to the uniqueness and at times dangerous nature of the Australian beach environment, the society has developed its own water safety methods and organizations in order to protect the members of the native and international community. The most important organization to the safety management of the beach is the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia now known as Royal Surf Life Saving Australia. As history has shown, it is extremely important for water safety procedures to constantly be updating in response to the introduction of new water activities as a way to provide as much protection of the water-going public as possible.




    The incident that occurred on Sunday 6th February 1938 at Sydney’s most popular and internationally acclaimed beach – Bondi Beach, has become both a tragic and progressive historical moment in Australian beach history. Dubbed ‘Black Sunday’ by those who witnessed the event, the day marked the first ever large-scale mass rescue in Australian history, when a crowd of 200 - 250 bathers was swept out to sea by a sudden change in surf conditions. By coincidence more than 70 surf lifesavers were present on the beach for a interclub surf carnival and instantly entered the water making close to 200 rescues with limited and at times ineffective safety equipment. Surprisingly the death toll only stood at 5 but if the Bondi Bathers Surf Club wasn’t holding the carnival it would have ended more tragically then it did.




    Following this incident the Sydney Morning Herald, personally praised and promoted the importance of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia and highlighted the limited government grants and public donations made available for the clubs to buy their equipment and keep their training up to date. As a result of the low financial aid, the Sydney Morning Herald combined forces with the organization to launch the first Surf Life Saving Appeal to raise public funds for the improvement of the club equipment, facilities and training programs. The Appeal resulted in an instant and overwhelming public response, concluding with over 1500 pounds, as well as an increase in government funding. Black Sunday prompted a review and update of the current water safety procedures and saw the international recognition of the unique surf life saving culture that has evolved in response to the Australian environment through the incident being witnessed by numerous tourists.




    The material gathered not only provides an insight into the Black Sunday incident and the successful appeal that followed it, but it highlights the significant role that up to date water safety methods and the organizations that implement them, play in society. It also allows the historian to engage with the public opinion and response to the position of the Surf Life Saver on both a native and international level.




    The research topic of Australian Water Safety is extremely important, as it is not something of the past, but is a part of society that is constantly growing and evolving with the progression of time. Black Sunday stands as a historical reminder of the unpredictable and dangerous nature of the Beach and the importance of the current water safety procedures and the lifesavers that implement them for public protection.

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    created by: bw223 on 2014-09-20 11:44:45.0
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  1. Black Sunday Rescue
    [ Photograph ]
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    At Waverley Library
    Black Sunday Rescue
  2. THE CASUALTY LIST.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Monday 7 February 1938 p 13 Article
    Abstract: The known dead are:— BERNARD FRED BYRNE, 34, property officer, employed by Tooth and Co., Ltd., of Parker Avenue, Earlwood. 2126 words
    Digitised article icon
    Note

    2014-09-22 11:11:49.0

    The Sydney Morning Herald article is a written account of the Black Sunday mass rescue at Bondi on Sunday the 6th of February 1938. It provides a detailed account of the event including information in relation to the cause of the incident (unpredictable surf conditions), the quantity of rescues that took place (approximately 200), an indication of the amount and background information of the casualties (5 deaths). The article also provides first hand insight into the horror and tragedy of Black Sunday by the inclusion of accounts and comments made by witnesses of the event; this allows a more authentic picture to be presented of the event that occurred.




    The source provides important information for the research project. It allows the historian to engage with the sequence of events from numerous first hand accounts that provides reliability. The article also provides the historian with an insight into the current financial situation of the club individually and of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia as a whole, as Bondi was one of the most popular beaches in Australia receiving a large amount of funding by the government at the time. This insight it has provided is translated through the article’s investigation of the limited amount of safety equipment available during the rescue; only 7 surf reels to rescue 200 bathers, having to force 5 people in trouble to share one life float and due to the small amount of equipment and large amount of bathers experiencing trouble most men were forced to entering the water without aid, relying of human strength and skill alone. The article also indicates flaws in the current water safety procedures especially in relation to the surf reel, the most central piece of safety equipment at the time, as the belt-men were faced with people grabbing hold of the belt lines and were forced to abandon the belts to avoid being pulled under and put into trouble themselves.

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  3. Resuscitating Bathers on Bondi Beach, Black Sunday Rescue
    [ Photograph ]
    View online
    At Waverley Library
    Resuscitating Bathers on Bondi Beach, Black Sunday Rescue
    Note

    2014-09-22 11:13:15.0

    The photograph provides a visual representation of the Black Sunday mass rescue. The source depicts a large crowd surrounding multiple groups of Surf Life Savers preforming first aid while trying to keep the beach population under control.




    This photograph provides a significant amount of information for the research project. The snapshot provides information including a sample of the large quantity of beach-goers on that day that in turn provides an indication of the popularity of beach, an indication into the numerous applications of first aid and resuscitation that took place that day as well as a practical demonstration of the 1930s first aid and resuscitation procedures. The source also highlights the central position of the surf lifesaver in this situation.

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  4. SURF SAFETY Club Conference SYDNEY, Monday.
    The North Western Courier (Narrabri, NSW : 1913 - 1955) Monday 7 February 1938 p 1 Article
    Abstract: Arising out of yesterday's surf tragedy at Bondi, a conference of all surf clubs has boon called for February 25 to' discuss further 56 words
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  5. AMERICAN'S PRAISE For Bondi Life Savers.
    Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 - 1954) Thursday 10 February 1938 p 9 Article
    Abstract: "I have never seen, and I never expect to see again, such magnificent work as was done by those life-savers," said Dr. Dyer, of Syracuse, 162 words
    • Text last corrected on 20 September 2014 by bw223
    Digitised article icon
  6. LIFE-SAVERS. A PROUD RECORD. Need for Greater Public Support. BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Tuesday 1 March 1938 p 10 Article
    Abstract: "I have never seen and I never expect to see again such magnificent work as was done by those life-savers. It is the most incredible work of love in ... 1060 words
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    Note

    2014-09-22 11:14:50.0

    This source is an news article taken from the Sydney Morning Herald, it both praises and promotes the role of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia not only in response to Bondi’s mass rescue, but also in response to the constant and heroic work that has been provided every beach season by the organization and its members. It includes comments made by an American doctor that was present at Bondi Beach during the incident, who highly praised the courage of the men involved as well as commenting on the uniqueness and effectiveness of the safety methods and practices. The article calls for the launching of the first ever Surf Life Saving Appeal to raise much needed financial funding for the numerous clubs throughout the country.




    As a historical source, the newspaper article provides an insight into the historical and financial background of the Surf Life Saving Association Australia by both the government and the public. Despite the significant role that the clubs play in the protection of the Australian public, the article reveals the relatively low financial support that is provided and has impacted the quality and quantity of club safety facilities. It also provides an indication into the international community’s acknowledgement and praise for the unique job that the Australian lifesavers have by including comments made by international witnesses

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  7. LIFE-SAVING. FIRST PUBLIC APPEAL. Immediate Response.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Wednesday 2 March 1938 p 16 Article
    Abstract: At the, monthly meeting of the committee of the Surf Life-savinR Association, which was held last night, formal approval was given to the first appea ... 637 words
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  8. LIFE-SAVING. GENEROUS GIFTS TO APPEAL. More Than £85 Yesterday.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Saturday 5 March 1938 p 10 Article
    Abstract: As had been confidently expected, the daily receipts of donations to the first appeal to the public for funds for the Surf Life-saving Association of 639 words
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  9. GUARDIANS OF THE BEACHES.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Wednesday 2 March 1938 p 16 Article
    Abstract: Nowhere in the world is there a body comparable to the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia, a unique national institution in which 775 words
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  10. LIFE-SAVING. COLLECTIONS AMONG STAFFS. APPEAL TO FIRMS.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Wednesday 9 March 1938 p 16 Article
    Abstract: Subscriptions were received yesterday from four more business firms for the first public appeal of the Surf Life-saving Association of Australia, and ... 465 words
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  11. LIFE-SAVING. First Surf Reel. SUBSCRIPTIONS TO APPEAL.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Tuesday 29 March 1938 p 10 Article
    Abstract: The history and use of the surf reel were discussed yesterday by Mr. W. H. Walker, secretary of the Royal Life Saving Society. The first reel, Mr. Wa ... 274 words
    • Text last corrected on 20 September 2014 by bw223
    Digitised article icon
  12. LEARNING TO SWIM. A Common-sense Appeal. "BY "CLARENCE RIVER NATIVE."
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Wednesday 9 March 1938 p 22 Article
    Abstract: The recent drowning disasters at Bondi and Sydney Harbour, as well as the annual fatalities that occur during the Christmas holidays every year all 526 words
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  13. SURF LIFE-SAVING. Association's Great Work. SUBSIDY TO BE INCREASED.
    The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Thursday 20 October 1938 p 15 Detailed Lists, Results, Guides
    644 words
    • Text last corrected on 21 September 2014 by bw223
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  14. Web page: Sand in Our Souls: The Beach In Australian History
    http://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZxwuXP6Rc0YC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=Sand+in+Our+Souls:+The+Beach+in+Australian+History&ots=kiYqe_rPBZ&sig=aXfZJ2T01RqWBTzcQlTRZJ-hpM4#v=onepage&q&f=false
    Web page
    Note

    2014-09-22 11:10:00.0

    Reference:


    South, C. (2001) Sand in our Souls: The Beach in Australian History, Melbourne University Press: Melbourne





    This source examines the interaction that has constantly occurred between the beach and the Australian society throughout history. It indicated that in response to country’s topography, an “extremely large island,” the beach has developed a central position in the Australian society. This significant position has resulted in the development of the Australian “Beach Culture,” one that is internationally unique and constantly evolving in response to the introduction new water activities. As a response to the uniqueness of the culture, it has had to develop it’s own safety procedures that are forever evolving in time with the new activities.




    This material has provided important background information for the research topic. It has allowed an in depth investigation into the history of the Australian beach culture as well as providing an insight into the large impact that the beach has on the Australian society and the importance of a constantly updating water safety procedure and organization.

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  15. Web page: Black Sunday incident Report
    http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/39092/20110408-1517/www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/19553/black_sunday.pdf
    Web page
    Note

    2014-09-22 11:07:16.0

    Reference:


    Waverly Council (1968) Bondi's Black Sunday [ONLINE REPORT]

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  16. Web page: Radio Interview with Witnesses
    http://www.abc.net.au/dimensions/dimensions_in_time/Transcripts/s555062.htm
    Web page
    Note

    2014-09-22 11:08:12.0

    Reference:


    ABC TV (2002) 'Black Sunday Radio Transcript.' Dimensions in Time [ONLINE RADIO TRANSCRIPT] aired 13/5/2002

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  17. Web page: SLS ABS Information Report
    http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/bb8db737e2af84b8ca2571780015701e/845def90bfdc637aca257235007e7501!OpenDocument
    Web page
    Note

    2014-09-22 11:08:45.0

    Reference:


    Ford, C. et al. (2008) 'Surf Life Saving - An Australian Icon in Transition.' Australian Bureau of Statistics [ONLINE ABS REPORT]

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  18. The resource described by this item has been deleted from Trove
    Note

    2014-09-22 11:23:28.0

    Reference:




    1940, The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook, 11th Edition. (abridged), The Association: Sydney




    The Australian Surf Life Saving Hand Book was the important water safety manual that was distributed during the surf lifesaver’s training by the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia. It contained the most current water rescue techniques and the most recent first aid and resuscitation methods at the time. The 11th edition, revised from late 1938-1939 and published in 1940, was a direct response to the Black Sunday incident. Black Sunday redefined the previous understanding of “Mass Rescue” and resulted in the construction of the “large scale mass rescue” procedure. This procedure included a the introduction of a new bell signal that indicated the highly urgent event taking place and general instructions outlining a basic job designation and which equipment would be most suitable during this situation.




    The source provides an insight into the direct impact that the Black Sunday mass rescue had on previous water safety practices. This event redefined current understanding and prompted the immediate construction of new methods to ensure that surf lifesavers would be well equip if faced with a similar situation. The quick revision of the handbook indicates the high level of importance placed on the need to keep water safety methods up to date and have it distributed to individuals for revision training as soon as possible.

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  19. The resource described by this item has been deleted from Trove
    Note

    2014-09-22 11:26:17.0

    Reference:




    1932, The Australian Surf Life Saving Handbook, 10th Edition. (abridged), The Association: Sydney

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