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Home History Shark-proof enclosure top memory for Woodgate visitors

Shark-proof enclosure top memory for Woodgate visitors

shark enclosure
The shark enclosure at the Woodgate Beach Caravan Park, or camp ground as it was back then, taken about 1965. Photo courtesy of Mick Karl.

Made from wood and big enough to see from the air, the old Woodgate Beach shark-proof bathing enclosures were certainly a feature from the 1940s onwards.

The three enclosures were a hot topic for residents recently after a photo from the seaside community was posted to the Bundaberg Regional Council Facebook page.

The post had many people discussing their fondest memories of Woodgate, with many stating swimming in the bathing enclosures was a fun activity of the past.

“We used to have day trips but always had to swim in the shark enclosure. It wasn’t that long ago that the last wooden post finally rotted away,” Ivan Roslyn Williamson said.

“We lived opposite the third enclosure. Great place to grow up as a kid,” Stuart Callaghan said.

Local historian Scott Stedman has worked to compile many articles and references about the Woodgate area and said the enclosures were a hot news topic from the 1940s onwards.

“According to articles, the opening of the first enclosure was a huge deal in the community, with thousands of people attending the opening event,” he said.

“This particular enclosure saw a few upgrades before more were added to different parts of the region.

“The enclosures worked as a safe space for swimmers.”

Record crowd at opening of first shark-proof enclosure

shark enclosure
In the foreground is Woodgate’s first swimming enclosure, directly behind is the site of the Woodgate Caravan Park. Photo courtesy of the late John Bunn – late 1950s.

On January 9, 1940 the Maryborough Chronicle published a news story about the first enclosure to open at Woodgate Beach.

“New Year's Day saw another link in the progress of Woodgate forged when the recently constructed shark-proof bathing enclosure was officially opened by Mr. B. McLean. M.L.A., in the presence of crowd estimated at upwards of 1500, comprising residents from all parts of the Wide Bay and Burnett district. Hundreds of cars were parked along the esplanade, many having travelled considerable distances to the seashore.

The visitors were impressed with the strongly constructed enclosure which is 120 ft. x 120 ft., consisting of substantial turpentine posts to which K wire is attached.

The greatest depth of water in the enclosure is 10 feet,” the article read.

Three enclosures at Woodgate Beach

According to local historian Scott Stedman, the first enclosure built in the 40s was one of three the Woodgate Beach community enjoyed over the years.

shark enclosure
The southern most swimming enclosure with Iris Jackson and grandchildren in the early 1980s.

“The first enclosure built in 1940 was in front of the caravan park,” he said.

“The other two enclosures were built by the Woodgate Progress Association in the early 1960s.

“One was situated in front of Second Avenue and the other near Eleventh Avenue.”

Scott said the two enclosures were built out of turpentine logs forced into the sand using water jets from a pump on the back of a tractor while another tractor held the logs vertical.

“Some of the members of the Woodgate Progress Association who built the enclosures were George Taylor, Bob Kingston, Bill and Don English,” he said.

6 COMMENTS

6 COMMENTS

  1. I remember these as a young kid going swimming there with my family as my grandparents live there, good old days.

  2. We were there when we were kids and at one stage people were swimming there when the shark net was broken and sharks were just in there swimming away unnoticed, was crazy.

  3. When swimming alone at Woodgate these enclosures made you feel safe. It was a sad day to see the one at Eleventh Ave removed. It would have been nice to have them replaced.

  4. I remember when we all sat on the posts at full tide, the boys daring each other to jump outside the enclosure when the sharks swam by to see who was chicken…all my happy memories were made Woodgate.

  5. I loved swimming there as a child, the best part was climbing out the back and standing on the enclosure and jumping in, no fear, it was so much fun, the first time I ever saw a seahorse I had it in my hands, the water was deep and big waves, just the best memories ever. I must not have known that sharks are bad, anyway never saw one. Woodgate is my Happy Place.

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