THE hero lifesavers who died during a tragic rescue attempt near Port Campbell on Easter Sunday have been described as "inseparable" mates "who did everything together".
About 1500 mourners have gathered at the Timboon Hall today to farewell Ross "Po" Powell, 71, and Andrew Powell, 32.
Ross' son Brett delivered an emotional tribute, saying his father and brother "did everything together".
"Him and dad were inseparable. They did everything together, not just on the farm but with their volunteering," he said.
Brett, the eldest of Ross' five children, told how on New Year's Eve in 1975, when he was just six months old, his father didn't return from feeding hay after a tractor accident.
The accident left Ross paralysed from the waist down.
"Dad told us that the six weeks he spent in hospital in a full chest plaster cast was unimaginably torturous," he said.
The hug I got on the Thursday before the accident was one of the warmest and heartfelt and it will forever remain in my memory.Brett Powell
"He vowed that if he ever recovered he would never sit idle again. And boy did he live up to his word.
"I don't know when the feeling and function returned to his legs but three months later he was demolishing a 12-herringbone dairy he built the previous year to build the rotary dairy that still operates today.
"It is probably the oldest operating rotary dairy in Australia."
Brett said his father was still in his plaster cast operating a jack hammer to break up the concrete.
He also recalled the many hugs he would get from his father.
"The hug I got on the Thursday before the accident was one of the warmest and heartfelt and it will forever remain in my memory," he said.
He said Andy, who was 12 years his junior, used to love hugging him in his dirty overalls and recalled last Christmas where they told each other "I love you".
Sister Natalie Powell described her brother as "next level".
She asked that people carry on the legacy of her father and brother by volunteering their time to something they were passionate about and loved doing.
"Choose something that would benefit from your service and volunteer your time, be it a few hours or something more significant," she said.
"We rise by lifting others. That is what Andy and dad did constantly."
She said their lives were enriched by the contribution they made to society and our community was so much richer for the contribution they made.
Andy and Ross Powell were so close in every way that they were fondly called twins by wife and mother Val.
In a statement read to the funeral by a family friend, Val said her 43 years of marriage were the happiest of her life, raising five beautiful children.
"I always had to share Ross with so many people I call myself his lady in waiting," she said.
She said when she was invited on a farm trip to Holland recently, she said she felt "very privileged" to have one-on-one time with her "workaholic" husband who she described as her soulmate.
She said the pair gave so much of themselves to their community and never expected anything in return.
"I ask that to continue their legacy, you show kindness to each other."
Ross Powell attended Timboon Consolidated school but left in 1963 at the age of 16 to work on the family farm.
He was one of the 20 inaugural members of the Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club in 1964, and was also a founding member of the Timboon Apex Club.
Ross was also a part of the Port Campbell farm discussion group, Scott's Creek CFA and Port Campbell Cliff Rescue Squad which later became the SES.
Ross' achievements were remembered alongside some of the "crazy antics" of he and his mates, including a race from Timboon to Port Campbell on hospital beds.
Ross would never refuse a call out, and his heroics of April 6, 1980, were rewarded with a certificate of merit for his courage and bravery.
That day, a person had been washed off a ledge near Loch Ard Gorge and his mate had swam out to try and help him.
Ross was on the crew that launched an inflatable rescue boat.
"In huge seas they made the 10km trip with no radios, no back-up boat because the local fisherman thought the sea was too big," family friend Shane Maslin said.
"They saved those two people from certain death in extraordinary circumstances."
Ross, who was described as the backbone of the Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club, had recently completed a detailed map of the coastline to help in any future rescues.
Ross and Andrew Powell were among three rescuers who went to save a male tourist struggling after wading in dangerous waters at the mouth of the Sherbrooke River at Port Campbell on Easter Sunday.
Their rescue boat flipped in huge swells and while the 30-year-old tourist and fellow rescuer, Phil Younis, were winched to safety, the father-son pair couldn't be saved.
Lifesavers dressed in yellow and red along with the bright orange of SES uniforms as well as police and CFA members packed the hall along with hundreds of mourners, politicians, local government representatives and dignitaries from surf lifesaving groups, the SES, ambulance, police and CFA.
Surf lifesaving and SES hats were placed alongside flowers on the pair's coffins during the service.
Lifesavers from Port Campbell, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Portland, St Kilda and Mildura formed a guard of honour, along with Victorian SES and CFA members.
Outside the service, a big screen and marquee allowed hundreds of mourners to farewell the father and son heroes.
A wake was held at the Port Campbell Surf Club after the service and shuttle buses ran between the various venues through the day.
A surf boat 'oars up tribute' was held at the Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club about 4pm.
As the sun set over Port Campbell on Friday, hundreds lined the beach as surfers and lifesavers led the tribute.
Surfers created a ring of honour surrounded by five surf lifeboats with those onboard and those who'd lined the beach raising their oars in tribute while rescue helicopter flew overhead.
The moving tribute was witnessed by hundreds of mourners who'd lined the beach to watch.
Friend Tom Westmore spoke to the media and described the last two years of his friend Andy's life as the "best of his time on earth".
"He'd modernised the family farm and most importantly he fell madly in love with his soulmate Amber and they conceived a child," he said.
"Sadly the next two years were going to be even better."
He urged people to picture the most generous person in your community, then kindest person, the most successful person and the most revered person. "Imagine if all of accolades belonged to one person, that's what Andy was," Mr Westmore said.
Corangamite Shire Council mayor Neil Trotter, a close friend from 50 years, also spoke to the media on behalf of the family who said their thoughts were with the Younis family and others who have been impacted.
He said the family would also like to thank those who had cared for and supported the family and their friends.
Moving online tributes for Ross and Andy Powell continued to flow on the Lifesaving Victoria Facebook page on Friday.
Lifesaving Victoria president Paul James encouraged those not attending the funeral to wear red on the day as a mark of respect to the families and show support for the Port Campbell Surf Lifesaving Club, whose colour is red.
A post on the Lifesaving Victoria Facebook page on Thursday said: "For those who are not able to attend, LSV President Paul James has asked if you could assist in paying tribute to the father and son who tragically lost their lives on Easter Sunday performing a heroic rescue, by wearing red for the day.
"It would be a great sign of solidarity in support of our fallen lifesavers as they are laid to rest."
Messages of support came from as far afield as Switzerland and Chiang Mai in Thailand, and across Australia from Scarborough and Jerramungup WA, Port Elliot Surf Lifesaving Club SA, Lakes Entrance Life Saving Club and Mildura.
Prince Michael of Kent was among those who sent condolences.
And Koo Wee Rup Secondary College said its students who have done their bronze at Woolamai Beach SLSC would be wearing red and yellow on Friday too.
- The Standard is attending the service with the consent of the Powell family.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.