Body-surfing at 6am on Sawtell Beach is the perfect start to the day, they say

The Water Rats at Sawtell Beach – an awesome start to their day.


A WHIM some 28 years ago, by a couple of friends to bodysurf at 6am on Sawtell Beach has become the high spot of the day for up to 50 people every morning.

Every day, be it Christmas Day or ANZAC Day, if it’s safe, the Sawtell Water Rats are bodysurfing at sunrise.

Frank Watkin, 77, a surfer in his younger days is the unofficial spokesperson for the group.

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“It was Bruce Macphail (current Secretary at Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club) and the late Kel Markham who started the whole thing off,” Frank told News Of The Area.

The common denominator between attendees is that everyone says it’s the best way to start the day.

“I used to say, when I finished my day and had to go to work, ‘the day goes downhill from 7am’.”

It’s not unusual for the swimmers to be watched by the resident wallaby.

Occasionally dolphins pay a visit.

“The recent downpours brought tree trunks and logs down the rivers, and even a dead cow washed up onto the beach,” said fellow Water Rat, Kerry Owen.

There’s a science to where they go in.

“I’ve got a good idea where the best spots are and where it’s dangerous and I never let anyone swim where it’s unsafe.”

At 88, Geoff Mould, the ex-Australian Rugby Coach is the oldest regular, since John Mola, 93, has stopped for his hip replacement.

Bruce Coomber, Sawtell, said it’s the perfect start to the day and Helen Owen, Boambee East, added that the camaraderie amongst the group is amazing.

Hans Don gets on his motorbike at 5.30am from Coffs to be on the Sawtell sand at 5.55am, something he’s done for 30 years.

Denyce Ryan, Sawtell, says it’s for fitness before she goes into her business – Zevo Global, the printing company in Coffs, which does the printing for the Water Rats’ tee-shirts and caps.

Young and old, everyone’s welcome to start their day at the best address in the world, says Frank.




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