For the past 3 summers, the Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club has extended its voluntary patrols from Woolamai Beach to also cover Smiths Beach. This extension has been part of a response to the demand for services at Smiths Beach - which is one of the most popular beaches in Victoria.

These voluntary patrols have also enabled the Club to learn about the beach and understand what infrastructure would be required to make these patrols an on-going part of the work the Club’s volunteers do each summer. 

It quickly became clear that to be effective, lifesavers needed three things. 

First, they needed an elevated position from which to observe the water. 
Second, they needed a place to treat first aid patients, and finally a place that could shelter lifesavers from inclement or extreme weather.

After an initial design did not receive a positive response from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning and the Phillip Island Nature Park, the Club has redesigned a proposed response to the above requirements. 

The new concept design has been developed by Tract Consulting, a leading landscape architecture firm that has also supported developments at the Penguin Parade. Tract has provided their input on a pro-bono basis.

Features of the design include a circular, sculptural form, that is designed not to present as a traditional building with a back and front. The structure will be clad in vertical timber battens that functionally shade and protect the walls whilst fitting in with the environment. 

Noting the risks of erosion and changes to beaches caused by waves, the facility has been designed to be relocatable should it be necessary.

Mark Donaldson, who is leading the Smiths Beach project for the WBSLSC says “The Club has been working for over three years to make our voluntary patrols at Smiths Beach sustainable. It is exciting for us, and for the community which has been overwhelmingly supportive and patient, to now have a concept design that has received conditional support from the State government, and which represents such a fantastic solution to operational requirements.”

The Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club is now embarking on a period of public consultation which is a requirement of the Coastal Management Act approval process. 

Mr Donaldson notes “The next steps for us are to undertake community consultation to confirm that our new design will be enthusiastically embraced by the community, and to address some detailed engineering requirements. We are very hopeful that the community will once again rally behind this initiative, and help us proceed towards completion. For our volunteers, we are working towards a timeline that would see them using the new shelter when patrols start on 27th November.”

This design will be presented to the community for feedback and comment on:

  • Monday 15th June, at 7pm at the Smiths Beach Store, 219 Smiths Beach Road. Tract Consulting will be available at this session.
  • Sunday 21st June, at 2pm at the Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Clubhouse at Woolamai Beach.

The Smiths Beach Lifesaving Concept Design report can be viewed by CLICKING HERE

Feedback can be provided at the information sessions, by emailing or mailing to Smiths Beach Lifesaving Facility, Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club, PO Box 49, San Remo 3925.  Submissions close 17 July 2015.

The following are some answers to commonly asked questions:

Why do we need a life saving facility at Smiths Beach?

The Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club has identified that to sustain patrols at Smiths Beach it is necessary to construct a lookout tower. The tower provides lifesavers with:

  1. An elevated view over the beach, 
  2. Facilities to treat first aid cases,
  3. Shelter from inclement or extreme weather.

Where will it be located?

Several alternative locations were considered and discussed with a range of stakeholders.

The selected location is immediately west of the timber beach access ramp and linked to the structure.

This location:
-maintains existing sight lines from the carpark and adjoining residential area
-meets the specific functional requirements of surf lifesaving activities
-minimises environmental, ecological and visual impacts on the setting.

How high is the structure?

In order to have a minimal effect on the sensitive coastal environment, the structure will be pre-fabricated and assembled on site.

The structure will be a simple and contemporary design using materials that reference the landscape of the site.  The structure will be 'drum-shaped' and constructed of green Colorbond (stainless steel) with Grey Ironbark timber battens.  It will be supported on four concrete piers.

The structure is at concept design stage.  Exact dimensions will be known as approval plans are prepared.  The structure will be attached to the existing ramp and will integrate well with its surrounds.

The structure will be lower than the dune and will therefore not be visible from the car park.

Is it Council or Phillip Island Nature Park land?

The structure is situated on the foreshore on land managed by the Phillip Island Nature Park.

Consequently the structure requires approval under the Coastal Management Act 1985 from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.  Bass Coast Shire Council will be consulted as part of this process.

How many weeks per year will it be used?

The structure will be used during the life saving patrolling season which runs from late November until mid April each year.

Why don't we use a temporary structure and remove?

A permanent structure will minimise disturbance of the dune, vegetation, fauna and sensitive coastal surrounds.

There would also be a significant recurring cost associated with twice yearly removal and installation.

The structure will be built to be able to be adapted to suit modes of use or seasonal differences (e.g winter close down mode)

The structure has a design life of 20 years, however the structure will be removable/relocatable in the interim if there are significant changes in environmental conditions or circumstances relating to access (for example if the beach access ramp were to be re-located)

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Important dates


9:00 am 26/01/18 - 10:00 am 29/01/18






21/02/18 - 23/02/18


05/03/18 - 09/03/18