Call for community to protect exposed historic shipwreck on Woolgoolga Beach

The reemergence of the historic Buster shipwreck on Woolgoolga Beach has become a tourist attraction and also sparked conservation concerns. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

THE reemergence of Woolgoolga’s historic Buster shipwreck on the town’s main beach over the Easter school holidays has become a major tourist attraction for the area, but has also sparked conservation concerns.

Buster was wrecked on Woolgoolga Beach after a gale on 17 February 1893.

Salvage efforts for the ship failed, and the vessel became a total wreck and gradually covered over with sand.

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The wreck becomes periodically exposed, usually after large storms which reveal the tips of the ship’s frames above the sand, marking the wreck’s location.

However, most of the Buster shipwreck became exposed earlier this month following extensive flooding and storms in the Woolgoolga region.

The exposed wreck has attracted a lot of attention from both Woolgoolga locals and visitors to the township over the recent school holidays.

This increased attention has led Heritage NSW to issue a warning to visitors to the site not to alter the site in any way.

Heritage NSW has stated on its website since the recent reemergence of the historic Buster shipwreck that the shipwreck is protected by legislation and it is an offence to move, damage, disturb or destroy the wreck or anything associated with it, including ‘relics’ which derive from the ship.

Severe penalties, including jail terms, can be given for these offences.

“We urge everyone not to disturb the remains, interfere with hull planks or climb into the exposed hull, which would reduce the site’s heritage values,” Heritage NSW recently stated on its website.

“The public are encouraged to visit and enjoy this unique site responsibly in ways that do not affect the integrity of the wreck.

“You are free to photograph and marvel at the wreck which will soon bury again as fast as it emerged.

“This will ensure that the site is preserved for the community into the future.”

Heritage NSW is now working with Solitary Islands Marine Park to post signage at the site, recover timbers washed off the site, and respond to public enquiries regarding the wreck.

The historic shipwreck site is monitored by Heritage NSW and managed as part of the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

Heritage NSW has been monitoring the 1893 Buster shipwreck since 2000, in recent years commencing 3D mapping and plotting of the site.

Community members of the Heritage NSW Wreckspotters program are assisting in photographic and video recording of the site, which will be used to generate further photogrammetric models of the wreck to record and analyse change across the site compared with previous exposures and produce 3D models of the site.

Anyone with information about damage to the Buster shipwreck is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or email Heritage NSW at [email protected].

 

By Emma DARBIN

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