OUTRIGGERS RESCUED ......Back to gallery

Outrigger canoes had been racing each other up and down the river, but as they had given it their all on their paddles, by the time they got to the finish line they were plumb tuckered out. This unfortunately coincided with a strong run out tide and a freshening westerly. To the horror of their friends and family cheering at the finishing line, they lost a paddle and before anyone knew it the crew of seven was sucked out onto an angry Port Macquarie bar.

Not since 1822 had such an event occurred. The story retold by the former Station Master and Mayor was of the fortunes of "Beeraburrum". His mob had spent many weeks constructing a fine canoe which "Beeraburrum", as the elder, was honoured to trial. He became so engrossed with trying to spear a fish that he floated out of the river towards the bar. At the sight of white water he bailed out of the helpless craft and swum ashore. Here an angry mob of late canoe builders confrounted him, "Why did you abandon it", they shouted, but he rebuked them, "Plenty of canoes, only one Beeraburrum."

Had the outrigger crew adopted "Beeraburrum's" sensible example they may not have found themselves swept into that raging cauldron.

First, two lager swells licked with foam lifted the canoe over and then tossed it carelessly behind as they rolled shoreward. But the third mountain of water was impossibly steep and broke in a thunderous confusion of spray and current. The canoeists were stripped from their seats as the wave rolled over them. The outrigger capsized and the crew, already exhausted, became very cold as they struggled in the swells.

Two lifeguards bravely surf boarded out to keep the peoples heads above water, but very quickly the rescue rigid inflatable and the larger rescue one were on the scene. With both boats working together all were pulled from the water, including the lifeguards, and with a head count done they were taken back to their shocked loved ones at the wharf. Unfortunately the outrigger canoe did not fare so well and was towed back to shore in more pieces than is usual.