Volunteer profile: Port Campbell’s family affair

This Father’s Day, we celebrated all the incredible dads and father-figures in lifesaving, including Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club founding member David McKenzie, who is the patriarch of what could be our largest currently-serving family of lifesavers. 

At present, the McKenzie family has 14 members spanning three generations at Port Campbell SLSC, including current club president Scott McKenzie. 

The McKenzie’s involvement dates back to the formation of Port Campbell SLSC in 1963, when David and 20 fellow local community members were the inaugural group of lifesavers to complete their bronze medallion at the club. 

David became hooked on lifesaving, and to this day is still a dedicated member at Port Campbell, having served as the radio officer for more than 20 years and spent a similar timeframe on the training and assessment committee. 

When David had his own children, Scott, Cath, Josh and Rebecca, Scott said it was a natural progression for them to also become patrolling members at Port Campbell. 

“Growing up by the beach and having dad as a founding member, mum and dad signed my sister, Cath, and I up for fun and to learn about enjoying the water safely,” Scott said. 

“When I completed my bronze in 1986, I started to become more involved in the club, rowing surf boats and my friends and I completed our inflatable rescue boat (IRB) crew and driver certificates and various other awards. We became hooked on spending our weekends patrolling together at the club.” 

The McKenzie family of Port Campbell SLSC – Jack Matthews, Cam McKenzie, Iagan McKenzie, Ben Matthews, Chelsea Matthews, Wil McKenzie, Claire McAuliffe, Rebecca McAuliffe (nee McKenzie), Sam Matthews, Cath Matthews (nee McKenzie), Scott McKenzie, Josh McKenzie. Marie McKenzie, David McKenzie  (Absent: Rob Matthews)

In 2021, Port Campbell is now onto its third generation of McKenzie members, which was first marked by a special patrol in 2012, when David’s first grandson, Cath’s son Sam, completed his surf rescue certificate (SRC). 

“All of my dad’s grandchildren have been or are still members, having come through the nippers program and completed their SRCs and bronze,” Scott said. 

“When dad’s eldest grandson, my nephew Sam, first got his SRC, the club held a special patrol where we had three generations of the family; dad, my sister Cath and my nephew Sam on the same patrol, which was a very special moment. 

“Lifesaving is certainly one of those voluntary activities that is so family-oriented and we are proud to continue contributing to the safety of the local community.” 

As a small, regional club, families are at the heart of Port Campbell SLSC, with many of Scott’s friend’s children, who he completed his bronze with in the 1980s, now also rising through the ranks. 

He describes the club members as his extended family and loves the close-knit atmosphere down at the club.  

“In a smaller club like Port Campbell, everyone helps out to make everything happen, so there are no independent or separate areas of the club,” Scott said. 

 “The young people who are down at the lifesaving club throughout summer are often from the same local school, and play winter sports together, so they are all very close friends and like extended family. 

“Everyone pitches in together to keep the club going, be it for chipping in to do water safety for our nippers, cheering on our surf boat rowers and patrolling our beach during the summer season.” 

Do you know a larger, currently-serving family of lifesaving legends? Email media@lsv.com.au

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