News

Top honour for daring surf rescue

Nathan Rheinberger of Yamba has been awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct for his rescue of two teenagers at Turners Beach in 2009.
Nathan Rheinberger of Yamba has been awarded a Commendation for Brave Conduct for his rescue of two teenagers at Turners Beach in 2009. Adam Hourigan

YAMBA'S Nathan Rheinberger has been awarded an Australian Bravery Decoration, announced today by Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

The 20-year-old hero was just 16 when he rescued two female students off Turners Beach, Yamba, in February 2009; his actions gaining him a Commendation for Brave Conduct.

Recalling the rescue, Mr Rheinberger said at the time he was heading in from a surf when he spotted two swimmers caught in a rip.

"I didn't really think about it, I just paddled out," Mr Rheinberger told The Daily Examiner afterwards.

With no previous life- saving experience, the young surfer said he just followed his instincts.

When he reached the swimmers he asked them who was feeling the worse, thinking he would help one ashore and then return for the other.

"But they both looked at me at the same time and I knew they were both in trouble," he said.

"One was as white as a ghost and the other was going under the water.

"I wasn't sure what to do, but I knew I couldn't leave one of them behind because they were both in shock."

Fighting the crashing waves and strong current, Nathan managed to pull one girl onto his surfboard.

He then held onto the back of the board and supported the other girl under his free arm.

Out of breath and still in the rip, Nathan's leg began to cramp but he pushed through the pain and kept manoeuvring them across the rip, then towards the beach.

Finally in shallow water Nathan's friend, Tim Horan, helped to pull the girls ashore.

Three-and-a-half years later, Mr Rheinberger said he was both shocked and stoked to receive a letter from Ms Bryce notifying him of the award.

"It came out of the blue. I definitely was not expecting it," he said, adding he had no idea who nominated him.

"I'm pretty happy with it though, it's nice to receive the recognition."

Now employed part-time as a bartender at Yamba Bowling Club, Mr Rheinberger still enjoys surfing and said he and a mate had pulled a couple of young boys out from the same rip.

"They were both probably about six years old and were just beginning to get into trouble," he said.

Mr Rheinberger said he thought more signs around the rock wall might help provide better warning to swimmers about the dangerous rip, used by surfers to access the back break.

"People need to be aware that the rip runs alongside the rocks and they can easily get dragged out."

This year marks the 37th anniversary of the Australian honours system, which since its establishment has grown in prestige to represent the highest level of recognition that can be accorded for attainment of outstanding achievement and service in national life.

Ms Bryce said today's announcement recognised the heroic actions of those among us who had placed the safety and lives of others before their own.

"We are privileged to have such role models in our society and it is an honour to be able to recognise their acts of selfless bravery and thank them publicly for their brave actions," Ms Bryce said.

There are four levels of bravery awards to recognise the actions of individuals and a separate group award (established in 1990) to recognise acts of bravery by a number of persons working in concert.

These awards are the Cross of Valour, the Star of Courage, the Bravery Medal, the Commendation for Brave Conduct, and the Group Bravery Citation.

Anyone may nominate any other person for the award of the Australian Bravery Decoration. Nominations are considered by the Australian Bravery Decorations Council.

For more information about Australian Bravery Awards see www.itsanhonour.gov.au.

Topics:  bravery award rescue surf rescue



Strong surf expected this weekend

Strong surf conditions expected to hit the NSW coast this weekend.

The NSW coast is expected to receive strong surf this weekend.

Prison officers fighting for some public recognition

Locked down. Solid steel doors, bolts and padlocks ensure the security of the prisoners and prison officers. The mural at the end of the block was painted by inmates.

For too long prison officers have been neglected. Now that's changed

Three news subscriptions and a free paper for $3 - saywhat?!

No Caption

FORGET everything you thought you knew about a great deal.

Local Partners

Skin clinic swims for charity

Yamba Skin Clinic jumps into the water to help raise money for the Cancer Council's Relay for Life.


5 things to do this weekend

Lower Clarence Relay for Life Swim

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Artist program to link to gallery theme

VALUABLE STINT: Indigenous artist Karla Dickens at work in Grafton Regional Gallery's studio during her 2010 artist's residency.

Gallery encouraging indigenous artists to take up residency offer

Buckley's chance in psychological thriller

James McAvoy and Betty Buckley in a scene from the movie Split.

Broadway veteran back on big screen with James McAvoy

Daniel MacPherson: acting’s a bit like channel surfing

Australian actor Daniel MacPherson in a scene from the American TV series APB.

THE Aussie export talks about making his mark in the US.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Lisa Marie Woodham will be giving readings in Gladstone until Saturday January 21.

Shopping isn't fun if you can see dead people

Buderim man strips off for speed dating with a twist

RAW AMBITION: Buderim local Jackson pictured with his blind date Candice in a scene from SBS's new dating show Undressed.

People have done stranger things for love

Matthew McConaughey wrongly used as medical example

Doctor tried to steal credit for McConaughey's hair treatment

J.K. Rowling writes through severe back pain

An aching back couldn't stop J.K. Rowling catching inspiration

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

Rates safe from land value hike

DRIVING GROWTH: The Pacific Highway upgrade has been linked to improved land values.

Figures up in latest valuer-general report

KNIFE-EDGE: The housing tightrope we now face

Even the smallest interest rate rise will be hard for some to handle.

One if five home owners at risk, according to new analysis

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Pat Rafter's $18m Coast home proves hot property

PAT'S PAD: The Sunshine Beach home of tennis ace Pat rafter is on the market for a record price.

"It's a record for our company and for the Sunshine Coast.''

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!