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News & Media

  • Watery farewell at South Curl Curl to a well-known man of the sea
  • January 07, 2015

BROKEN Bay Water Police legend Buster Brown will be honoured on Sunday at South Curl Curl, where he was a life member.

Roper “Buster” Brown died peacefully on Christmas Day, aged 84.

His ashes will be scattered on the waves by members of the club.

A true man of the sea, as well as winning many surfboat titles during his lifesaving career – including a national title – Mr Brown was a member of the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol (now part of Marine Rescue NSW) and was a member of the Broken Bay Water Police from 1969 to 1980, and became its commander.

Assistant Commissioner with Constable Brian Friend, Sgt Buster Brown and Constable Gordon Wellings

The most famous rescue in which he took part was in 1974, when he, Gordon Wellings and Brian Friend battled huge waves to reach the 10m ketch Votan, which was in trouble off Tuggerah.

There were six people aboard the disabled ketch, one of whom was swept overboard and drowned. But the three water policemen aboard their launch Falcon were able to rescue the other five and bring them to safety.

Senior Constable Gordon Wellings, Sergeant Buster Brown and Constable Brian Friend. Courtesy Australian Police Journal

At the time, the wind speed was estimated at up to 100km/h and the wave height about 10m. It took the Falcon more than seven hours to beat her way back to safety in Pittwater.

Brian Friend and Buster Brown in October 1974

For their bravery, the men were awarded the Police Commissioner’s Commendation for Courage and the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.

Mr Wellings died in 2010 but Mr Friend will be the master of ceremonies at the service at South Curl Curl SLSC on Sunday.

“He was an absolute gentleman and was admired by all people that became involved with him,” Mr Friend said.

“There are not many men in this area that could hold a candle to his dedication to helping his fellow man in the seas off the NSW coast.

“His knowledge of the sea and its quirky, unforgiving nature will remain in the minds of people he taught for many years, and he can never be replaced.”

The service on Sunday will begin at 2pm and afterwards a guard of honour will form on beach and by surfboats in the water as his ashes are scattered on the water while a 21m police launch stands guard off the beach.

Mr Friend said Mr Brown was adamant he didn’t want anyone wearing a suit at his farewell – just shorts, T-shirts and thongs.


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