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‘Buster’ shipwreck – Woolgoolga Beach


With an exposed coastline of treacherous seas and shifting sand bars at our many river mouths, it is not surprising there have been many ships wrecked overtime on the Mid North Coast. At times there is an opportunity to see some of these remnants. Springtide and big swells offshore, often associated with a low-pressure system along the east coast, are ideal conditions that expose shipwreck sites.

The 39-metre, 310-ton Buster ran aground on Woolgoolga Beach in 1893, when it was visiting the area to load timber to take to New Zealand. During a storm, it lost its anchor and was washed onto the beach where it has remained ever since. While the wreck had been uncovered almost annually in recent times major storms in 2021 saw much more of the hull exposed than usual, however, it was visible only for a couple of weeks before being reclaimed.

In 2022 unique weather conditions led to further exposure of the 50-year-old ferry wrecks, the Sydney Queen, Lurgurena and Koondooloo, at South West Rocks. The three decommissioned ferries were destined for the Philippines for repurposing or scrapping in January 1972. But the towline between the ferries and the towing tug Polaris was severed. The Polaris managed to get to Trial Bay where the ferries were moored, but a strong wind a day or so later swept the vessels ashore onto the beach where they have remained ever since. If you are lucky enough to see any of these wrecks please note at all times they are protected by our maritime archaeology laws and regulations.

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