A Victorian town is in mourning after losing two of its well-regarded surf lifesaving volunteers, a father and son who died trying to rescue a tourist from treacherous swells.
Dairy farmers Ross Powell, 71, and his son Andy Powell, 32, have been remembered as heroes after their rescue boat flipped in two-metre swell on Sunday morning.
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.
The tourist and a third rescuer were winched from the water and transported to hospital, but the Powells died at the scene.
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 as the rescuers were "highly experienced and long-serving members" of the club, describing them 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.
‘Love of my life’
Amber Griffiths, the partner of Andy Powell, shared her heartbreak on Facebook after learning of the deaths.
“Today (Sunday) we lost two of the most beautiful people to ever exist - always putting others first,” she wrote.
“The love of my life, light of my life, father of my baby girl. My heart is broken. I miss you Andrew Powell.”
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