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Sydney’s best beaches, by Bondi lifeguard Bruce “Hoppo” Hopkins

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You’ve been working as a lifeguard for 30 years. What’s your proudest achievement?

Ultimately, it’s rescuing people and saving their life. You know that if you didn’t get out there and get them and bring them back, they probably wouldn’t have survived. Resuscitation is a major situation that we deal with, and to have someone dead in front of you and then from that you get them back to life… those things you never really forget.

How many lives do you think you saved over your career?

Rescue-wise, it’d be in the thousands. For resuscitations, it’d probably be around 50 now of the proper, no sign-of-life ones. They start adding up over the years.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Bondi when you’re not working?

I’ll always go in the water and do some training or surfing. But I also love going up to the Bondi Icebergs for lunch; you’re right on the beach, you’re looking over the whole bay – it’s a great venue to have a beer and something to eat and watch the beach and how it evolves each day.

With so many people visiting Bondi, you must have had some interesting encounters. What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?

It was Valentine’s Day, and these two girls came up with something in their hands and we didn’t know what it was. It turned out it was a bomb that had washed off one of the navy ships. It must have been floating around in the ocean for a long time and got washed onto the beach. We put it down and put [safety cones] around so no one would go near it.

Next thing, the police came and they cleared the beach. Then the bomb squad came and basically half of Bondi was locked down because of this bomb. They took it down towards the water and detonated it. That’s not what you call a normal day at the office!



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