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




Crowds gather for Jumpers and Jazz Festival

QUICK YARN: Sue Jacobsen, Karina Devine and Loretta Grayson take five minutes out of their hectic Jumpers and Jazz schedule for a chat.

There is still plenty to do for the remainder of the festival

Man injured in bike accident on property east of Warwick

Ambulance generic

Motor bike rider sustains injury in accident on property

WATCH: Killarney Bonfire Night fires up

The bonfire at Killarney Bonfire Night

Let me stand next to your fire - Killarney Bonfire Night

Latest deals and offers


Get out this weekend on a budget

Tree jumper artwork

Here is your go to guide for getting out this weekend on a budget

Reno stars want tradies to focus a little more on one thing

The Demmrichs want Tradies to look after their most important tool

Day 2 Splendour Pictures

Sticky Fingers perform at Splendour in the Grass 2016. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

Splendour in the Grass Day 2 covered in pictures.

WATCH: News reader tries her hand at hardcore shooter, Doom

Veteran journo and noob gamer takes a shot at Doom

What's on the small screen this week

MasterChef Australia's final four contestants, from left, Harry Foster, Elena Duggan, Elise Franciskovic and Matt Sinclair.

MASTERCHEF makes way for The Bachelor on Ten's reality TV slate.

Guy Sebastian a hit at Splendour in the Grass

Guy Sebastian performs at Splendour in the Grass with Paces.

REALITY TV judge a hit with festival crowd.

Superheroes of the big screen enjoy sounds of Splendour

CHRIS Hemsworth and his Avengers mates drop by Byron festival.

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

The climb is slow but property on the way up

Michael Matusik, director of Matusik Property Insights.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles