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On a hot December Saturday in 1936, 16 year old Carrington youth George Lundberg headed to Throsby Creek to cool off. Even though sharks were often spotted in the area, drawn by schools of fish and by refuse thrown from vessels moored nearby, the last fatal shark attack had occurred in the year George was born. George and his mate James Connors werent worried. George and James were mucking about along with a group of younger boys amongst the raft of imported logs stored by timber yards in the water near Herbert s boatshed, now the Inner Basin, opposite the outlet of Cottage Creek. The water was shallow near the sandy shoreline but the logs gave access to the 9 foot channel dredged through the middle of the creek. George was swimming in the channel when he cried out and then disappeared below the surface, as the water around him became tinged red with blood. James ran across the logs and pulled his mate out, horrified to see first, the black fin of a circling shark, and then, that one of his mates legs was missing below the knee. While two other boys tried to staunch the bleeding, James dashed to a nearby boatshed calling for someone to ring the Newcastle Ambulance Brigade. The ambulance arrived quickly and took George to Newcastle Hospital, but he died within the hour. Newcastles leading shark fishermen, Arthur, Jim, Joseph and Sidney Ayerst of Wickham, immediately began to hunt the shark. They patrolled the harbour, trolling lines behind their launch and setting fixed lines in Throsby Creek. There were false alarms the following day when a grey nurse shark was seen near the mud pans opposite Wickham Infants school and when a buoy attached to one of the shark lines disappeared and in both cases, hundreds of people rushed to the foreshore hoping to see the shark captured (see photo). Sharks were front of mind in 1936 when George Lundberg was killed. The fear of sharks was fed not only by films showing in local theatres at that time, including Zane Greys The White Death, about the hunt for a giant man-eating shark terrorising people at the Great Barrier Reef, and the Flash Gordon film Captured by Shark Men. Actual sharks were sighted off Merewether and Bar Beaches in December, leading to the sounding of the shark alarm. Three days after George was bitten, a 9 foot 6 inch grey nurse shark took the bait on a fixed line near the site of the attack. The Ayerst brothers captured her after a fifteen minute battle, with an audience of several hundred onlookers. In recognition of their good work, the Ayerst brothers were presented with a gift of 250 yards of stranded galvanized wire for fishing lines by Ryland Bros. George was buried in Sandgate Cemetery, with costs met by donations from the people of Wickham and Carrington. Calls were renewed for the state government to make money available to erect a shark-proof fence between the punts and the boatsheds at Wickham to allow safe swimming at the area called the Waters Edge or even better, to build a modern swimming baths at Carrington so people could swim without fear of sharks. Instead, the industrialisation of the waterfront continued and safe swimming was only available at the ocean baths.



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