Meet The Locals: Life Is A Beach For Rob Pomié
Rob Pomié has been a professional lifeguard at the Gold Coast’s beautiful Nobby’s Beach for 24 years.
In that time, as he has kept our Gold Coast community safe, he has also watched a new generation of Gold Coast locals, as well as the regular Gold Coast holidaymakers, grow into adulthood.
Before moving to the Gold Coast, Rob lived on the other side of the border, working as a lifeguard at Cabarita and Pottsville. Not bad for a guy who admits that as a teenager, he had a paralysing fear of the water!
I chatted with Rob about living the dream and going to the beach every day, life on the Goldie and how he’s keeping us safe during these challenging times.
What do you love about Nobby’s Beach?
The sense of community, there’s an authentic local feel to it. Also, there are lots of families who come regularly for their holidays. They’ll rent a holiday unit or have their own. There’s also a lot of people from the caravan park. I have a vast amount of lost property, such as boogie boards and buckets and spades, so I lend it out to beachgoers. I’ve met a lot of people over my time on the beach. I’ve seen kids in their mum’s tummies, who now have their own kids! It’s a great community to be a part of.
Rob, 24 years fronting the ocean five days a week must have made you very Zen! What has the ocean and the beach taught you about life?
Good question Ron! Like life, it’s always different and ever-changing. The ocean has taught me you have to have a great deal of respect for it. In my early childhood in Townsville, we didn’t go into the ocean because there was danger everywhere. That stuck with me. Then I lived near Murwillumbah in the farming community. The bush was second nature to me but the water remained scary. Once I actually got out of the pool during a 50-metre race at the school swimming carnival. Then in my teens, a mate took me out on a board beyond the breakers. Once we got out the back, I had an epiphany. The sense of peace was a revelation. The lulling of the swell grounds you. It’s still dangerous. Once you get your knowledge you’ve got to roll with it, not fight with it, because it will always win.
What about beach visitors? What have they taught you?
A former lifeguard mate summed it up when he said the beach was the great leveller. There are no pretensions. People are without their status symbols, expensive clothes or cars. You’re seeing everyone in their raw state. Sometimes a bit too raw! The vast majority of people are at their best as they’re mostly in a happy frame of mind as they unwind and relax.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the beach?
It has made it busier! We don’t have flags up at the moment. We’re lucky on the Gold Coast with our long, open stretches of beach. The width of the beach at the moment is 50 metres. There are a lot more people walking. Most people are adhering to social distancing and aren’t grouping together. They swim, but they don’t loiter too much. You get the minority that don’t want to follow the rules, but you’ll get that minority in any aspect of life.
What's my property worth?
Do you have to play ISO cop as well?
We do have signage with the guidelines, and if people are breaking the rules, I inform them.
Do you have to perform a lot of rescues?
Luckily, many of the Nobby’s locals are pretty water savvy. When tourists come, they usually follow what other people are doing. But we do get people doing stupid things like putting their towels next to a red danger sign that says no swimming and then getting into the water with their kids. Being on my own, it puts me in an awkward position, as I have to walk down the beach to tell them. Then it puts people between the flags at risk as I’ve taken my eyes off them. Most of the job is proactive stuff, talking to people and educating them. I’m always reading and prioritising people’s abilities, so you can see if they know what they’re doing, or not.
Can you recall a memorable Gold Coast rescue?
Once in the early evening, the police asked for help in finding the gear of a couple of people who’d tragically drowned that afternoon, so they could identify them. As I was searching, I saw a couple on the beach and a woman’s head bobbing about in a massive rip. Her arms were reaching up to keep her head up. She was on her last breath when I rescued her. It turns out they’d just flown in from Russia that day. The only reason she was alive was because two people died earlier that day.
What do you personally love about the Gold Coast lifestyle?
We’re so lucky that we get to live this healthy oceanside lifestyle, but I also love that we’re so close to the spectacular hinterland, which appeals to the bush boy in me. I go to O’Reilly’s and Springbrook National Parks regularly. The café scene around Nobby’s is thriving. Hide and Seek, Double Barrell and The Yard are all worth a visit.
Thanks for keeping the Gold Coast community safe, mate.
Photo credits: CV Paddlers Facebook page