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‘Glorious’ hidden shipwreck resurfaced at Woolgoolga Beach


A long-buried shipwreck emerged in a northern NSW town this week, causing a flurry of excitement as locals flocked to catch a glimpse.

The 128-year-old shipwreck of The Buster resurfaced on Woolgoolga Beach at the mouth of Lake Woolgoolga, leaving many locals shocked.

Lisa Nichols, the editor of local paper Woopi News, told many long-term residents never knew the preserved ship was hidden under the sand.

“It’s probably the most photographed thing in Woolgoolga at the moment,” Nichols said.

“There’s something more glorious about it at the moment. I don’t know what it is.

“It just seems to look more spectacular this time.”

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The 39-metre-long Buster is a barquentine, originally built in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1884. It arrived at the Woolgoolga Jetty in 1893, to pick up a load of timber it was due to carry to New Zealand.

But when a storm hit, the ship’s anchor cable snapped and its holding chains failed, and the Buster was eventually beached 200 metres down the beach near the mouth of the Woolgoolga Lake, according to the local tourism site.

“It’s amazing to look at. The photos don’t do it justice. When you see it, it’s just petrified wood,” Nichols said.

She said recent wild weather, including heavy storms and rough seas, had made the ship more visible than usual.

In the mornings there are crowds of people on Woolgoolga Beach photographing the wreck.

The Buster previously suffered damage

Ms Nichols said, some time ago, an off-road driver damaged the wreck while driving their 4WD on the beach.

“The (driver) broke a few pieces of it and the Maritime (authorities) decided it was best to bury the broken pieces of the ship.”

Ashley Sambrooks from the Coffs Coast Council told the site of the resurfaced ship was “all a bit exciting”.

But she stressed the Buster was a historic wreck and fell within the The Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. Anyone visiting the wreck is encouraged to be respectful of the site.

Further images and information about the Buster can be found at the Coffs Coast website.

Ms Nichols said she first heard about the wreck 10 or 15 years ago, but had been visiting the area since she was a child.

“It shows how much the sands shift,” she said.

She remembers playing cricket on the beach when she was a child, and using parts of the ship sticking out of the sand as wickets.

“But we never realised it was a shipwreck underneath us.”

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