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Geoffrey Wellesley Hyman (1907–1930)

While heroically attempting to save a 16-year-old girl, who was in difficulties in the surf, Geoffrey Wellesley Hyman, a young law student, was drowned in Tamarama Bay yesterday afternoon.

Before the girl, Betty Burnie, was brought safely to the beach, and Hyman's body recovered, a dozen or more people battled with the strong current that swept across the bay. Particularly gallant was the work done by three boys one of whom was handicapped by a lame leg.

Tamarama Bay which lies between Bondi and Bronte beaches, is generally regarded by experienced surfers as a treacherous swimming place. Yesterday, although only a moderate surf was running, a strong easterly current, running parallel to the rocks, gave many bathers an anxious time.

Betty Burnie had been swimming for some time when she was caught by the current and carried out. She battled gamely to regain the shore, but soon became exhausted. Just at this moment Hyman teached the beach. He was wearing his swimming costume, and immediately he noticed the girl's plight, he plunged into the surf. Although not a strong swimmer he had little trouble in reaching the girl, who, by this time, was being washed unconscious farther out to sea.

It became apparent to those on shore, however, that Hyman was tiring. Wilton Weir, a 13-year-old boy, donned the belt, and went out with a life-line. Swimming magnificently, he brought the girl to shore unaided. In the meantime, Bernard Weir, a year older than his brother, jumped from the rocks and swam out to Hyman, who was obviously in distress.

"I'm done, sonny," gasped Hyman, as the boy reached him. Then he collapsed. Young Weir supported the unconscious man until Ray Shapcott, 16 years of age, reached him with another line. Mrs Florence Hynes of Bondi, and several members of the Bronte Surf Club, who had been hurriedly summoned, went out and supported Hyman and the almost exhausted boys to the beach. Hyman was dead.

Betty Burnie was in a state of collapse. A doctor attended her on the beach for half an hour before she partially recovered. Then she was removed to the home of her aunt, Mrs Thorne, in Phillip-street, Bondi, late last night she was still in a semi-conscious condition. Hyman's body was removed to the Sydney morgue. After a short rest, the three boys completely recovered.

Geoffrey Hyman, who was 23 years old, was the son of Mr A. W. Hyman, solicitor, of Sydney, who has been a prominent member of the Returned Soldiers' League. Young Hyman graduated B.A. two years ago. Since then he had been taking a University law course, at the same time being articled to Mr N. K. P. Cohen, solicitor. He was wicketkeeper in the University cricket eleven. While reading for his approaching law examinations, Hyman had been boarding with Mrs Cottee in Kenneth-street, Bondi.

When interviewed yesterday, Bernard Weir was very modest about his exploit. "A terrific current was running," he said, "It was pulling straight out to sea, and we had to swim around it. When I got near Hyman, his face twisted, and he said that he was done. Then he went off. I held him up until the other boy came out with the belt."

There is no paid lifesaver at Tamarama, and as none of the members of the volunteer life-saving club were on the beach, two lives might have been lost had it not been for the pluck and life-saving knowledge of the boys. Trained by Mr E. Philip, of Bondi, they are members of the Wonderland Sports Club, which they formed themselves, and of which Bernard Weir is the captain. The eldest boy in the club is only 16 years old, but they are all remarkably efficient.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Hyman, Geoffrey Wellesley (1907–1930)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


New South Wales, Australia


29 January, 1930 (aged ~ 23)
Tamarama, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.