02 Jun Here In History By Betty Laver
South End Beach was the home of the Lifesavers in Gladstone.
In the early days the Gladstone citizens enthusiastically embraced the
humble picnic as an important element of their lifestyle. This would bring
family and friends together in such a wonderful environment. Picnics and
outdoor entertainment were usually held at Barney Point or Police Creek
but after 1910, South End became a popular weekend retreat. By the
1920’s the townsfolk of Gladstone were constantly using the twelve miles
of sandy beach. It was safe for children as nature had carved out
countless pools in the rocks where the little ones could bathe in safety.
The main problem was that the only way to this beach was by boat
service and the citizens had to catch the local launch. Some people came
in their own boats. The Lifesavers’ Club was formed in Gladstone in 1935
first servicing the local beaches (like Barney Point) but finally opting to
base themselves at South End beach. Joe and Muriel Irwin were
members of the club and Joe was an instructor. Dr John McGree was
also an instructor at South End and he had come from Sydney, having
been an instructor in Bondi at one time. The Gladstone Lifesavers would
train during the week at Barney Point Beach and watch over South End
Beach on the weekend. This became Gladstone’s main beach option until
WW2 when this type of recreation came to a halt. After the war Tannum
Sands became Gladstone’s main beach and South End was a weekend
retreat and fishing resort for many Gladstone residents. Lots of people
had shacks on the island or day-trippers would come on the passenger
boats that serviced the islands.
Photo from Trevor Laver: South End Beach in the 1950’s.