Buster moves: century-old shipwreck resurfaces on NSW’s Woolgoolga beach

·2-min read

Heavy rain has fully uncovered a century-old shipwreck on the New South Wales mid-north coast over the weekend.

The 39-metre sailing vessel, named the “Buster” wrecked on Woolgoolga beach north of Coffs Harbour on 17 February 1893. Locals can only see the Buster’s wooden beams, almost 120 years old, when wind or heavy seas wash away the sand.

“I guess that I walked over the ‘Buster grave’ many, many times during my walks along the main beach to the lake and never knew of its existence until recent years,” one person wrote in a public Woolgoolga and Northern Beaches Facebook group.

Photographer Adam Dederer was one of many who flocked to Woolgoolga beach to capture the wreck.

Lisa Nichols, editor of local publication Woopi News, told news.com.au “it’s probably the most photographed thing in Woolgoolga at the moment.”

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

The 310-tonne ship was built in Canada and arrived in Woolgoolga jetty in the late 19th century to pick up a load of timber on its way to New Zealand.

An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1893 reported that the 10 crew and passengers narrowly escaped death after waves “like a wall” smashed into the side of the ship, breaking its anchor cable and holding chains, and carrying it to shore.

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“At 9am, an immense sea struck her on the port bow, and the chain on that anchor carried away,” Captain Carnie told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time.

“Instead of a favourable change, darkness fell upon as wild as night as ever set in … at 9 o’clock that night a sea like a wall was seen to be running in right for us. It came towering overhead as though it would overwhelm the ship and carry us swiftly to destruction …

“Swiftly the fine ship was borne shorewards, and in less time than one could count the seconds, she struck hard astern and slued sharply right around, stern to the sea and bows to the shore. Sea after sea washed her up on the shore, her crew clinging to the rigging.”

It isn’t the first time the Buster has become more exposed: the shipwreck made headlines in 2019 after a joyrider travelling along the beach in a stolen 4WD smashed two pieces off the wreck’s main structure.

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