A real case of jaws in our very own small town? One Friday afternoon in January 1944, a 14 year old boy named Keith Weir was out with his friends surfing at Main Beach (First Beach), Forster. Earlier that week residents had noticed a shark and attempted to warn visitors, however Keith was unaware and decided to go out for one last surf by himself. While out surfing, Keith was attacked by a shark. Keith’s cries attracted the attention of two men named Henry Donegan and Ernest Salisbury-Baker. Who bravely swam out to save the boy and drag him back to the beach. Once brought back to the shore beach-goers saw that his legs were horrifically mauled and bleeding, with large bits of flesh hanging off the open wound.1
Two doctors were then summoned from Tuncurry to attend Keith while they waited for the ambulance to come and collect him. Keith was later brought back to Taree hospital were his leg had to be amputated just above the knee.2 However Keith’s injuries from the attack did not stop him from achieving his goals, only 18 months later Keith won a handicap surf race at North Cronulla.3 On another note the heroic men that saved Keith were given the highest award for surf lifesaving as a thank you for saving Keith Weir, later that year.4 This is still known to be the only shark attack to happen in Forster. Are you swimming in unknown shark territory?
Author: Emily Cooper, Year 9 Great Lakes College Tuncurry
1 Manning River Times, 19 January 1944, 2.
2 Ibid.; Raymond Terrace Examiner, 20 January 1944, 4.
3 Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 1945, 7.
4 Daily Examiner, Wednesday 18 October 1944, 2.