Almost three years after it was first proposed, Kings Beach will soon receive its long-promised Angel Ring after the state government has finally found the funds.
The life-saving rings have saved lives all along the NSW coastline; one at Red Rock has already been used six times this summer.
The Kings Beach location was first proposed by Surf Life Saving Australia’s Dave Wilson after he had to rescue someone in the particularly isolated location when he was in Byron Bay on holidays.
He responded to a call for help at Kings and discovered what he describes as a ‘black spot’, with no mobile and limited two-way radio reception.
Initially Mr Wilson asked the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) if he could install some equipment at his own expense to prevent what he saw as an inevitable drowning at the beach but his offer was refused.
He then went public, accusing NPWS bureaucracy of homophobia over the issue, given Kings Beach’s popularity with the gay community.
But the service’s spokesperson Lawrence Orel denied the accusation, telling Echonetdaily at the time that the equipment Mr Wilson planned to donate was not suitable for an unsupervised beach.
Mr Wilson then approached the Angel Rings group to provide one of their life-saving rings at the beach after he heard that ‘the one at Ballina saved two kids the same day [it was installed]’.
Stan Konstantaras, who manages the Angel Rings project, took it on, and added it to a list of proposed new sites along the north coast, including Cape Byron and Broken Head.
Mr Konstantaras wrote to Echonetdaily in February 2012, saying he was completing his application for all the north coast sites and we reported in June of that year that NPWS had given its approval.
But funding for the project has only just been announced. The paltry $100,000 to install the rings was provided by the state government only this week.