Shipwreck fully re-emerges off coast for first time in 128 years

Residents of a town on the NSW Mid North Coast have been shocked by the re-emergence of a long-buried ship.

The Buster washed up on Woolgoolga Beach in 1893 but can only be seen on the beach when the sand is blown away.

Recent wind and rain in the area has made The Buster easier to view. On Thursday, the area received about 54mm of rain, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

March was also a heavy rainfall period for parts of the Mid North Coast with Coffs Harbour smashed by 123mm on March 22.

The Buster shipwreck seen at Woolgoolga Beach.
Recent wet weather along the NSW Mid North Coast may have made The Buster shipwreck at Woolgoolga Beach more visible for passersby. Source: Facebook/ Carly Adams

Ship most exposed 'in years'

While it has a somewhat storied history, Lisa Nichols, the editor of local paper Woopi News, told many people don’t realise The Buster is buried on the beach.

Nichols said it’s currently visible and “the most photographed thing in Woolgoolga at the moment”.

“It’s amazing to look at. The photos don’t do it justice,” she said.

Residents aware of its existence say it’s the most visible and exposed the ship has ever been.

“That’s a lot more showing than the two times we have been there,” one woman wrote on Facebook.

Another woman wrote it’s “the most we’ve seen in years”.

“It is very rare indeed for it to be so exposed, usually only a few of the higher parts are visible,” another woman wrote.

The Buster at Woolgoolga Beach in 2006.
Parts of the ship seen in 2006 buried under the sand. Source: Debbie Argue via NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

What was The Buster?

According to The Australian Maritime Museum, the 310-tonne ship departed Sydney for Woolgoolga in 1893 to pick up timber for transport to New Zealand.

Gale force winds forced it to crash into Woolgoolga Beach and it eventually proved impossible to salvage.

The Buster shipwreck seen at Woolgoolga Beach.
Resident say it's the most they have seen of the ship which remains buried in the sand. Source: Facebook/ Lisa Rademaker

“Due to severe winter storms over the last one hundred or so years the sand covering the Buster has been scoured away from time to time revealing what appears to be an amazing jumble of well-preserved timbers lying on top of the beach just below the high water mark,” a section on museum’s website reads.

The ship is protected under the NSW Heritage Act.

Visitors to the site are told not to touch the ship or they could face severe penalties.

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