Saved by the Bell

The Caves Beach SLSC Shark Bell

For many years, this shark bell was affixed to the shark tower on the top of the hill at the Swansea-Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club (now known as Caves Beach SLSC). However, the task of reaching the bell to warn swimmers of shark sighting in the vicinity was no easy feat.

The tower itself was approximately twenty-five feet high, with SLSC members needing to climb up steel pegs each two or three feet apart to reach the bell. And, as if to make the experience more harrowing, there was a crow’s nest atop the tower! The bell remained in this location until the 1950’s, when it was eventually deemed as unsafe and removed.

The Swansea-Caves Beach SLSC was established at Caves Beach in 1929. The founding members, including the foundation President Ab Payne who, according to current members, ‘never entered the surf and didn’t even own a pair of cossies!’ had recognised the need to patrol the expanse of swimmable coastline between the existing SLSCs at Blacksmith’s Beach to the north, and Pinny Head to the south. Patrols started later that year, with six members, who were life-savers in training.  By December 1929, 14 members had qualified for their bronze medallions.

By December, the club had already raised sufficient funds to build a shelter shed, refreshment booth, dressing sheds, and had acquired material for a surf boat. As Caves Beach SLSC grew the club acquired equipment as necessary, such as surf reel lines and belts, first aid kits, and in 1939, this shark bell and its tower.