The Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club, which was formed in the wake of the tragic drowning of a family washed off rocks in the 1960s, owes its existence to the selflessness of its hero volunteers.
Ross Powell, who drowned with his son Andrew on Sunday while trying to rescue a tourist clinging to rocks, was a founding member of the club and was just a teenager when it formed in 1965, Corangamite mayor Neil Trotter said.
Phillip Younis, who was winched from the ocean, is a stalwart of the club and was on Monday in The Alfred hospital where a spokesman said his condition had improved to stable.
Cr Trotter said that not only was Mr Younis a lifesaver with the club, he was also the Port Campbell CFA brigade captain and spent many years volunteering with the SES.
He said Mr Younis had been a farmer on a grazing property just out of Port Campbell and operated a boat charter business in the town.
"He's a very experienced boat operator, very familiar with the coast," Cr Trotter said.
The CFA said it was supporting Mr Younis' family and other members of the Port Campbell community.
CFA acting chief officer Gavin Freeman paid tribute to those who lost their lives, risking theirs, to help others.
"Our thoughts are with our emergency service partners, and colleagues, from Life Saving Victoria and the Victoria State Emergency Service, who these members of the community also volunteered with," he said.
Cr Trotter said the Port Campbell surf rescue squad was formed in the wake of the tragic drowning of a family who was washed off rocks near Port Campbell in the early 1960s.
"A mother was swept off the cliff, mother and child I think, and the father went in to save them and I think they were all lost," he said.
"That was here at Port Campbell at Beacon Steps which are closed now.
"They used to have an old rocket squad here from the shipwreck days. It used to fire rockets if boats got into trouble off the cliff, they would fire a lifeline out with a rocket over the top of the boat and try and get people back to shore that way.
"It's a pretty antiquated way of doing it but that's what used to happen. That squad really morphed into the surf rescue squad.
"Ross was only a young kid at the time. He would have been in his teens and he was a foundation member."
He said the surf club had been called out numerous times over the years.
"Some of them are pretty tragic with people falling off cliffs and things like that," Cr Trotter said.
"Just because of the nature of that area, it's been an issue for a long time.
"So in some ways, our surf club offers a bit different service to what other places do in the state.
"The beach here in Port Campbell is considered quite a safe beach but any beaches out from here aren't.
"And when you get Easter time with huge swells rolling in, it just increases that risk."
Warrnambool Coastguard deputy flotilla commander Keith Prest, who was on a training exercise near Lake Gillear on Sunday when they got the call for help, paid tribute to the three surf lifesavers involved.
He said the coastguard often worked closely with the Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club and described them as selfless people who would do anything for you.
"They were prepared to bend over backwards for others," he said
"The actions of these Port Campbell guys are heroic."
Mr Prest said that by the time the coastguard arrived on Sunday, it was no longer needed.
He said the death of a father and son at sea near Port Campbell almost 20 years ago, along with other incidents, were what instigated the formation of the Warrnambool coastguard unit.
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