Rescuers were able to winch the 30-year-old tourist and a third lifesaver to safety but the Powells were declared dead at the scene.
The third lifesaver was named as Port Campbell’s CFA brigade captain Phil Younis. He remained in The Alfred hospital on Sunday night with back and leg injuries.
The shocked community of Port Campbell paid tribute to the father and son, who were renowned for their community spirit. They were life-long members of the Port Campbell Surf Life Saving Club and were prominent figures in the local dairy farming industry.
«They were humble people, they just get on and get the job done. The minute you needed them, they were there. Selfless. You just can’t say it enough,» said Simone Reynard, a former lifesaving club member and chair of the dairy group WestVic.
«They wouldn’t have even thought twice when they got that phone call on Sunday. They would’ve gone straight into action.»
Ms Reynard, who had known Ross and Andrew for 24 years, said they were «the most incredible, kindest people you could ever meet».
Ross had moved into a new home in Port Campbell with his wife Valeria just last week. As his father entered the next stage of his life, Andrew was managing the family property at Cooriemungle, around 20 kilometres inland from Port Campbell, with Amber.
Andrew won a local young farm leader award in 2017, saying at the time: “Everything I do, I do because I enjoy it. I don’t look for recognition.»
«He had a passion for everything he did. That just oozed out of him,» Ms Raynard said.
«Even as a little boy, Andy was behind his dad on the farm. As he’s grown up now and become a man himself, his dad would still be his greatest mentor.»
Andrew, one of four children, was leader of the Port Campbell dairy group until December last year, offering guidance to fellow farmers, while Ross was the oldest active member.
Ms Raynard said the duo «could always see the light at the end of the tunnel».
«The loss in our region will create such a huge void. It will be impossible to fill,» she said.
«I’ve spoken to lots of fellow farmers and friends of theirs. We’re finding it so surreal to comprehend the gravity of what’s happened. We’re all going to be battle weary, but if there’s one thing we do as a community, it’s wrap our arms around each other and keep going.»
Another WestVic farmer, Laurie Hickey, said the pair died doing «something they gave so much of their time to».
«They were so generous, they were a part of every community they were asked to be a part of,» he said.
«Two people that have given so much to the dairy industry, to be taken doing a voluntary job away from their normal life, it’s terrible. It’s just a tragedy for the industry, the district and south-west dairy.»
The location where the tourist was rescued, at the entrance to Sherbrook River, is a notoriously unsafe beach outside the lifesaving patrol area.
The tourist suffered hypothermia and was taken by road ambulance to the Warrnambool hospital in a stable condition.
An emotional Life Saving Victoria president Paul James said on Sunday the close-knit volunteer community was in mourning.
“It’s just terrible, it’s heartbreaking,” he said.
“The boat was operating in two-metre swell … we know it’s treacherous down there. These brave people, these heroes, have gone out to try and help.”
Michael is a reporter for The Age.
Robyn Grace is a journalist at The Age.
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.