A surfer gets up close to the recently uncovered shipwreck (dark area) about 50 metres of Lighthouse Beach at Ballina.
A surfer gets up close to the recently uncovered shipwreck (dark area) about 50 metres of Lighthouse Beach at Ballina. Jay Cronan

Changing tides uncover the past

THE PAST resurfaced at Lighthouse Beach this week.

Ballina resident John Nurse said he has discovered a shipwreck while diving some 50 metres off the beach, and despite living in the area his entire life, has never noticed it before.

“I’ve swum on this beach since I was a kid, and have never seen it,” he said.

Mr Nurse said the boat appeared to be made of brass or copper with some steel plating, and was possibly an old steamer or a section of nearby shipwreck the Tomki which had broken off and moved.

“It’d weigh about 20 tonne and it’s about 30-foot long, and it looks like someone has cut things off it, perhaps the bell,” he said.

“You can see the bough, and what looks like two big steam barrels. I think the ship would be worth about $10,000 to $20,000.”

But despite the excitement of the discovery, Mr Nurse fears it could pose a danger for swimmers.

“The board riders know about it, but a kid or even an adult could get stuck down there, because the currents here sweep you straight out,” he said.

Allan Watt, vice-president of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum said they were interested in the discovery, and that it would be great to identify the wreck.

“We can’t really say what it is unless we have a good look at it,” he said.

“There has been around 70 ships sunk off the Ballina bar, and we have got a lot of information about the boats that have been sunk there.”

As for the sudden appearance of the wreck, Mr Watt said the boat had probably been covered by a lot of sand.

“Chances are either the wreck has moved, or the sand that was over the wreck has moved,” he said.

“If there is a lot of brass, then it could have been a more modern ship, perhaps from 70 to 80 years ago.”

If you have any information or images of the wreck, visit the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, or call Mr Watt on 0429 998 322.


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