Work is its own reward for lifesavers
IT MIGHT be one of the best offices in Australia, sitting outside the Lennox Head Surf Club with the headland in the distance and the waves lapping at your feet.
During the summer months, this is how Matt Laverty spends some of his days.
But as a lifeguard on duty, he doesn't seem nearly as relaxed as the people enjoying themselves in the water.
"Even on quiet days there are things to do like getting familiar with all the equipment and checking everything to make sure it's working properly," he said.
Matt's day starts with a morning training session before he officially clocks on at 9am.
On the day The Northern Star visited, he and fellow lifeguard Max Hulbert started by getting the flags and other basic rescue equipment such as boards and foam tubes from the shed and selecting the spot to set up for the day.
They then set up a shade area on the grassy sand dunes where they have the best vantage of the beach. Matt also checks the jet ski is ready by turning it over and making sure all the appropriate gear is on board.
He then grabs the first-aid kit, oxygen and defibrillator and settles in for a long shift
He said Lennox was normally a pretty safe beach and on average lifeguards might perform one or two "minor rescues" a week.
Over the summer they might be called to get the jet ski out once or twice.
They are in radio contact with all of the other patrolled beaches on the Far North Coast and might be called to take equipment to other beaches, as was the case when a search was needed for two fishermen whose boat sank off Ballina just before Christmas.
Matt says he didn't have any particularly dramatic rescue stories to tell, although he was involved in rescuing a family once when he was off duty.
"I've been pretty lucky so far, but everyone says it will happen the more time you spend down here."
Matt came up through the surf club as a nipper and has been a life guard on and off since 2007.
The beach at Lennox Head is patrolled for seven months of the year with a combination of paid and volunteer lifeguards.
Matt does a bit of both and his main occupation is as a design engineer with a company called Riveria that makes luxury boats and yachts on the Gold Coast.
He is now on two weeks' holiday from his other job and says he's happy to pick up a bit of extra work.
"It's pretty cruisy," he said. "There are definitely worse places to work.
MATT LAVERTY kicks off the Northern Star's a new series called A Day in the Life.
These articles will profile various workers across the Northern Rivers.
Our aim is to take an in-depth look at jobs that are particularly busy over the summer months.
Let us know what you think: email news@ northernstar.com.au.