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Anthony ‘Harries’ Carroll – Living The Perfect Dream

By Dan Hutton on January 31, 2012 in People

Photo: Andrew Goldie

During the month The Beast caught up with legendary local lifeguard, ladies’ man and star of Bondi Rescue, Anthony ‘Harries’ Carroll…

Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from Clovelly – Park Street, Clovelly – I grew up there and then went over to Bronte as a surfer from the age of 14.

Are your folks still living down on Park Street?
They’re still living in Park Street and I visit them regularly. It’s probably the most magical place in the east, Clovelly. The locals never change and it’s a great spot to be.

Do you still get your mum to wash some of your clothes like Kerrbox?
You won’t believe it, I’ve just bought my own washing machine but I don’t know how to use it. So yeah, all the hard stuff to wash goes to Mum’s. I don’t want to shrink anything – it’s worth too much.

So where are you living these days?
I’m living up in Birrell Street, Waverley. I look right over Bronte and down towards Bondi, my favourite place.

What’s your favourite beach in the Eastern Suburbs?
My favourite beach is Bondi.

Really? I thought you would have said Bronte…
I love the surf at Bronte but my favourite beach is Bondi, one hundred percent.

Why’s that?
When I drive over the hill at Bondi heading from Bronte I get this feeling; it’s just the most beautiful feeling that you’re going to have the best day ever and the reason for that is you look around it is the greatest playground on Earth.

What else do you love about the Eastern Suburbs?
The eye candy’s amazing. There’s nowhere anywhere in the world where you get such good sorts walking around, and it’s not one by one, it’s in abundance. You’ve got every shape and size and it’s so good, it’s amazing. Everyone is so healthy here. People say that there are a lot of yuppies here but I find everyone quite friendly. Everyone’s beautiful, and I make sure that I always say hello to everyone. The coastal walk, obviously, is unbelievable and Bronte Boardriders is the greatest things ever invented in the east.

Is there anything you don’t like about the area?
Yeah, the one thing I don’t like about the area is if you’re out in traffic at nine in the morning. It’s just an absolute nightmare getting from Bronte to Bondi or from Clovelly to Bondi – the traffic’s out of control. They’ve got to do something about changing the school times and having people heading off to work. It’s got to be more functional on the roads.

Haven’t you got a scooter?
Yeah, I’ve got a scooter, I just feel so sorry for people that have to drop the kids off at school and then have to head off to work. To start your day in traffic, heavy congestion, it wouldn’t be good.

How did you get the nickname ‘Harries’?
‘Harries’ is a little surf break over at Gordon’s Bay in Clovelly and when I used to come over to Bronte as a kid they used always ask me “What’s it like over at Harries?” I told them not to call me Harries. It’s a little surf break beside the car park just on the other side of Clovelly. So I didn’t like the name to start.

You’ve got a couple of other nicknames too, don’t you?
There are a couple of names. I get called Skunk, Beast, Baby – I was actually inventor of the Beast. It got taken away from me, or should I say stripped.

Where does ‘Skunk’ come from?
I really loved watching Pepe le Pew as a kid, the cartoon, and how he was always chasing around a lady. All the lifeguards are naughty skunks.

Being nicknamed ‘Harries’ do people ever get you mixed up with fellow lifeguard Harry ‘H-Man’ Nightingale?
Yeah. I did the Cleo Bachelor of the Year last year and the papers rang me and said, “Listen, could we do a quick interview? So, Harry Nightingale…” and I was like, “No, no, it’s Harries.” H-Man is about 62, but I suppose he was a heartthrob in his day.

One thing you and H-Man have in common is a good tan. Is it true that you don’t mind a visit to the spray tan salon?
It’s year round my tan but I’d like to say it’s actually very even as well, face and body. No, look, I’m taking it quite serious now. I know I’m a bit uneducated about skin cancer but I actually met up with a couple of doctors recently and ‘Bondi Rescue’ are filming about it. They’re saying one in three people are diagnosed with melanoma so I’ve been quite pedantic about covering up lately.

So from now on the tan is always going to be fake?
It’s going to be a fake tan from a beautiful place in Bondi called Tan Temple. A lot of people wouldn’t admit it but I’m the first to admit it. If you’re going to get a tan, go for a spray tan for sure.

Was it good fun doing the Cleo bachelor of the year thing or was it just a pain in the arse?
No, it was really good fun. I thought there would be a couple of tossers there but they were all really good blokes and all loved a beer.

Who took you down for the title?
Eamon Sullivan won it. He’s a heartthrob. He swims a lot quicker than me too. I’m like a barge – he’s a true fish.

Your rig is in pretty decent shape for an old bloke; how many hours do you train each day?
I train a couple of hours each day and try to stay really fit. The lifeguard job for me means everything. It’s not only a passion but it’s a way of life so I stay fit for myself and for being healthy and also so I can save lives. At the end of the day if I can get there a second or two quicker and it’s coming down to my training, I’ll do it.

Do you feel a bit sorry for the Randwick lifeguards that don’t get the publicity that you blokes get?
The Randwick lifeguards, they’re a beautiful bunch and my sister’s son works there, Brad Rope. He’s a handsome young guy. I reckon they’ve got more handsome blokes working over there it’s just that it’s not Bondi, baby.

Do you reckon Brad Rope is the prettiest Bra Boy?
He’s very pretty. I think he gets his looks from his mum.

What’s the relationship really like between the lifeguards and the lifesavers?
The relationship has always been of a good and bad nature for the past 30 years. 30 years ago the board riders used to have fights with the clubbies. We do work 365 days a year and the volunteers only come down over the summer period on the weekends and public holidays. We spend a lot of time with our feet in the sand and that’s how we become exceptionally good at what we do. In saying that, I’m actually an active volunteer lifesaver too.

So you’re a clubby, a board rider and a lifeguard?
Yeah. I wear the lifeguard hat, the clubby hat and the board riding hat and I’m proud to wear all three. I love being involved with the lifesaving movement, how they volunteer their time to come down to assist the lifeguards. It’s great what they do. But the main reason I like being involved with the surf lifesaving movement is more for the nippers. I like to see kids evolve as a waterman or as a water baby into becoming a lifeguard.

Of the lifeguards, are you the biggest celebrity?
No, I’m definitely not the biggest celebrity. I’m just a lifeguard. If we were celebrities, we’d be close to Z grade. We’re definitely not A-listers.

Who do you reckon is the biggest celebrity of the lifeguards?
The biggest celebrity would have to be Whippet, a.k.a. Sam Marshall from ‘Home and Away’.

Who do the girls come running in to see in the lifeguard tower?
The big favourite is Maxi (Trent Maxwell). The women all go ga ga for him and he handles it quite well for a young bloke from Rocky Point Road out at Sans Souci.

You’re often described as a bit of a ladies man but I believe you’re now off the market – is this true?
Yeah, I’m attached. I met a beautiful lady, Emily her name is, and she lives down at Coogee. We met on a blind date. I went straight in for the kill. I normally kiss before I eat and this one won my heart. She’s amazing. She’s the most beautiful girl ever and I can’t wait to put a ring on her finger.

Really? How long do you reckon you’re going to give it until you drop a knee?
Oh, I’d like to give it a couple more months. It’s been around the 8 month mark now and she’s amazing. She wakes up in the morning and she’s just got a big smile on her face and it’s quite funny because I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d fall in love or spend time with one lady. I was always out and about making sure that I was romancing.

Will there be kids soon as well?
I can’t wait to be a dad. To have kids and have them swimming down at North Bondi, catching waves to the shore, that would be the best. If you’ve got so much energy you’ve got to give it back.

Is it true that you have an identical twin brother?
Yeah, I’ve got an identical twin, Sean, and he was also a lifeguard. He was on ‘Bondi Rescue’ in its first year. We’re pretty close. He still surfs every day and comes down Bronte. He’s a plumber these days. And he’s right into his ping pong too actually.

Of the lifeguards, who’s your best mate?
I see them all as really good friends and I could go to all of them if I ever needed them for something. There’s never been a place anywhere in my lifetime in a football team or in a workplace where you’ve had such a strongly bonded bunch of guys that will do anything to help each other.

So you don’t have one particular bestie?
I have to say if there is a man it’s Elvis, it’s the king, Kerrbox.

How long have you and Kerrbox been good mates for?
I’ve known Boxy since I was 13 and when I was at school I showed him a book and it had a thing in there saying “Who are your two favourite action heroes?” and I had He-Man and Kerrbox, and still to this day he is the king. He’s never let me down once.

So you were a fan before you were his mate?
I was a massive fan. He went to the same school, he grew up at Bronte so he was just around the corner from us and it was just all about the Box. World number six – could have been a world champion for sure.

Who’s the hardest worker in the tower?
There’s a couple. The best lifeguard, who is well rounded, not only in the water but on the land, is Azza Graham. You look at when there’s a 15 to 20 foot swell running, there’s only about five or six blokes who will put their hand up to go out surfing. I won’t go out, there’s no way. Azza is by far the best waterman and well rounded lifeguard. He holds his head together well and he’s been a lifelong mate. I just want to get some moisturiser on his face though.

How did you get into lifeguarding?
I started lifeguarding when I was 19. I got a bit unfit, put a bit of weight on, and decided I wanted to set myself a goal of becoming a lifeguard. Kerrbox and Hoppo were working down at Bronte and I approached them and asked if I should go for it and they said yes. I looked at it as more of a job where you could be kind of a ladies man, and I thought it would be a relaxed lifestyle and I was put in my place the first day. A lady tried to commit suicide, back 16 years ago, and I had to swim out to sea and get her. She was in a bad way. From that day on I realised that we’re not just trying to look pretty, there’s a massive serious factor to the job and what we do. We’re watching over up to 40,000 people’s lives each day. It is a massive responsibility. I never take it for granted.

How many rescues do you reckon you’ve done during your career?
I’d be up probably 3,000 rescues, I reckon.

Do you have a rescue that stands out particularly?
The rescue that stands out to me was on my day off, coming out of the gym, running down to assist Harry Nightingale, Bobby Yaldwin and Mouse in a resus at Bronte and watching Mouse bring a 2 year old back to life out the back of Bronte reef. He pulled her up and I was 100% sure it was a plastic bag that he was pulling up. She was so small, this 2 year old Korean girl, and I watched him breathe into her and he was using two fingers to do CPR and he brought her back to life. That broke me down and I started crying.

Do you have any pearls of wisdom for beachgoers to help them stay out of trouble at the beach?
Swim between the red and yellow flags and know your limitations. Along the east coast of Australia so many people drown because they can’t remain calm when they’re caught in a rip. I strongly believe that 98% of people can float, but it they don’t stay calm, that’s how they drown. And don’t be scared to put your hand up and call out help – one of the hunky lifeguards will come and get you.

Why are you always wearing a mouthguard down at the beach? Is it really that dangerous down there?
I wear a mouthguard for safety, of course. No, I wear aligners from Invisalign, the braces to straighten your teeth. My teeth weren’t that bad but I just wanted them to be perfect. They’re basically it’s the same as braces but you can’t see them. I’m in ambassador for Invisalign and they’re a great company to work with. I tell you what, the results they get for people are fantastic, and I don’t look like a left right quarterback when I’ve got them on.

We’ve noticed that you’ve been getting a few endorsements from some big sponsors lately. Do you want to give anyone else a little plug?
Nudie coconut water, they’re amazing too. It’s such a good drink because it’s an isotonic and working these long days on the beach you can’t get a better hydrator. And Waverley Council, of course. They’re amazing to the lifeguard service. They’re so supportive of what we do. Without the council’s support we wouldn’t have ‘Bondi Rescue’.

If you weren’t a lifeguard what would you be doing for work? Do you have any other qualifications?
Yeah, I was a flight attendant for Qantas. I did that for four years and I worked as a lifeguard at the same time. It was a great mix. You get to meet some fantastic people. You’re the spirit of Australia.

When does ‘Bondi Rescue’ hit the airwaves again on Channel 10, do you know?
‘Bondi Rescue’ hits the airwaves in February and they’ve got some great stuff this year. They’ve also got some fantastic new high definition cameras down there that do a good job of sucking the belly in a bit better.

Do you ever get sick of the cameras?
I never get sick of the cameras. I think it’s great. It’s just one of those things that I know for a fact that we’re going to reflect back on later in life and say that it was the best opportunity ever. Some of the lifeguards get a bit funny every now and again but at the same time I’ve seen a couple of them putting their make up on or doing a double take.

Do you have any advice for youngsters who dream of becoming a lifeguard?
If you’re young and you want to become a lifeguard make your dream become your reality, for sure. You can do anything in life; it’s just about how much you actually want to do it. When you find your passion in life you’ve got to grab hold of it with two hands and don’t let it go.

Should they get down and join a surf club and do their bronze medallion?
Look, if you want to do the surf lifesaving thing, do it as a young bloke, but you don’t have to be a lifesaver to become a lifeguard. Just make sure you’re exceptionally good in the water and make sure your skin and your hair looks good. I like to make sure they look handsome. Use lots of moisturiser and SPF.

Do you have any role models?
I’ve got a couple of role models. Firstly my parents, they’ve given me this opportunity to live in the east and I would have never been a lifeguard if it wasn’t for my mother. She’s born in a foreign country and she came out and bought a place in Clovelly because she could barely swim and she wanted us to be champion swimmers, my twin brother and I. My dad’s been a great role model too. He’s a black belt in karate, judo and jujitsu. Fifty years in martial arts he’s done. And obviously Chris Brown, the Bondi Vet. A couple of girls have mistaken me for him, which has been great.

How many times have you been mistaken for the Bondi Vet?
On several different occasions there have been dark nights in the White Revolver. Ladies thought I was the vet and obviously, you know, I made sure they had a nice heart rate. I put my stethoscope on and just made sure they were fine.

Does he know about this?
Yeah, I told Brownie that they’ve mistaken me for him. He’s such a complete gentleman and now his nervous system is just completely shot. He’s getting around like a Weimaraner. He doesn’t know what to do.

In a perfect world what does the future hold for Anthony Carroll?
I’m living it now. I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. I go to the beach each day, get down for a swim, do some training and live the perfect dream. Even if another TV show or something ever came up it might be a good opportunity but I’d always stay as a lifeguard. That’s where happiness is created so I’d never leave my happiness.