SETTING up for The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships is no easy feat but a crew of twelve men called the Dirty Dozen have been doing it every year for the past three decades.

Wayne "Rabbit" McLennan is the final remaining member of the original Dirty Dozen put together in 1973. He said the name was coined back in the Dirty Dozen's first year of existence when the crew had a brush with surf lifesaving royalty.

"In 1973 at Burleigh the manager of Caltex and Mobil oil had two apartments in one of the highrise towers at Burleigh Heads and we'd been on the beach all day, we were dirty, sweaty and grubby and we got told to come up and here were these people in their blue blazers and white slacks and white shoes.

"We've walked in like proverbial grubs and their looking down their noses at us and we all went in, rubbing shoulders with creme of Australian surf lifesavers and they're all dressed up to the nines and we're in our work gear and they're going look at these dirty buggers and of course the Dirty Dozen movie had just come out and it stuck from there."

Wayne McLennan and members of the 'Dirty Dozen' help set up for the Australian Titles.
Wayne McLennan and members of the 'Dirty Dozen' help set up for the Australian Titles. Warren Lynam

Rabbit said while their name hadn't changed he had seen a massive difference in the event held back then to where it was today.

"In those days it was nowhere near the event it is today," he said.

"We used to knock the Aussies over in three days at Easter. Now every year we get together we have around about 10 to 12 days in camp and this year we've gone to 14 days to bring everything up from the Gold Coast, where it's stored, to here.

"This is a very big logistical affair on the Sunshine Coast with the fact that there's beach events at Mooloolaba, lifesaving events up at Alex and the main event here at Maroochydore."

Despite the hard work Rabbit said he looked forward to being a part of the Dirty Dozen every year.

"I just love it - it's a great time. It's just one big family reunion.

"The camraderie amongst the blokes ensures it is a great event."

Rabbit said that the big bosses always made sure the volunteers were enjoying themselves as well.

"Anytime we whinge they double our pay," he joked.

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