120 year old shipwreck resurfaces on Woolgoolga beach NSW

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. Buster’s wooden beams, almost 120 years old, were revealed when wind and heavy seas washed away the sands.

The 10 crew and passengers of the Buster narrowly escaped death after waves ‘like a wall’ smashed into the side of the 310-tonne ship in 1893. 

Buster was built in Canada and arrived at 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.

photograph: Adam Dederer

“Swiftly the fine ship was borne shoreward, 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.”

Capt. Carnie, SMH, 1893

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.

Article: The Guardian, Australia Sunday 11 April 2021.