Dairy News

Port Campbell farmers tragic deaths

By Geoff Adams

A Victorian family is heartbroken after a heroic father and son died while trying to rescue a tourist from treacherous waters.

Dairy farmers Ross "Po" Powell, 71, and his son Andrew Powell, 32, have been remembered as heroes after their rescue boat flipped in two-metre swells on Easter Sunday.They had been on a rescue mission for a 30-year-old male tourist who had been wading in dangerous waters at the mouth of the Sherbrook River at Port Campbell.

"We are heartbroken," the Powell family said in a statement."Ross (Po) dedicated much of his life to contributing to his community ...

He was very much loved and respected by many," it read.

His son Andrew was always with his dad and was expecting his first child with partner Amber Griffiths in August

."We will miss our beautiful, big-hearted Andy and were so proud of the person he was - gentle, compassionate, loving and selfless - like his father," the family statement read.Ross Powell's sister, Marea, was also devastated by the loss."Ross was the most wonderful brother. He was my 'rock'.

My two children loved and idolised their uncle and loved their cousin Andy. Ross and Andy will forever live in our hearts," she said.The pair were high achievers in farming and were heavily involved in volunteering organisations to give back to the community.Both were involved in the Victorian State Emergency Services, the CFA and the life saving club.A third rescuer, Phil Younis, the town's fire brigade captain, was winched from the dangerous waters after the boat flipped and was taken to hospital along with the tourist.SES acting chief officer David Baker paying tribute to the men on Sunday.

"The Port Campbell SES and the surf lifesaving club members are quite simply devastated," he said."It has left a massive hole in the hearts of those units and clubs and the Port Campbell community."Mr Baker said Mr Younis had received "significant injuries" and had undergone surgery in hospital. He is currently in a stable condition.

"It's quite simply courageous and heroic in the extreme," Mr Baker said of their actions.Corangamite Mayor Neil Trotter - who has known Ross all his life and Andy "since he was a baby" - said the tight-knit Port Campbell community was "shattered".

With a population of only a few hundred residents, Cr Trotter said: "everyone in the community knows each other"."It's a bit surreal and it will take time for them to come to terms with it because everyone in the community knew them, especially in the surf club community," he told AAP.Cr Trotter said Ross was an inaugural member of the surf club, which was formed in about 1965.He added the pair were "very community-minded people", also volunteering for the CFA and SES.Lifesaving Victoria president Paul James wept,  describing the "highly experienced and long-serving members" of the club as heroes."We know it is very treacherous down there and not a place to be swimming at all," he told reporters on Sunday."These brave people, these heroes, have gone out to try to help."The incident will be investigated and a report prepared for the coroner.