SETTLED: Clem MacMahon and Neil Halliday with the samson post.
SETTLED: Clem MacMahon and Neil Halliday with the samson post. The Northern Star

Angels Beach wreckage not from WWII, but it'll stay anyway

BALLINA Shire Council has recommended debris lying in the dunes at Angels Beach be left untouched because of its probable cultural heritage.

The decision was outlined in the council's B Ward Committee meeting agenda for Monday.

However, the debris is unlikely to be a relic from a Second World War ship, despite years of rumours within the wider Ballina community.

The debris, found in the Ballina River in the early 1990s and relocated, was rumoured to be a samson post (heavy cargo lifting device) from merchant ship MV Limerick.

Limerick was sunk near Cape Byron on April 26, 1943 by the Japanese submarine believed to have torpedoed the hospital ship AHS Centaur - the I-177 Kaidai-class submarine.

The council's strategic and community services group recently engaged Cosmos Archaeology to assess the debris, after a government grant was denied, and the assessment was reviewed by the NSW Heritage Office.

According to the assessment, the object in the dunes once functioned as a post for a derrick and " very likely to be originally a kingpost aboard a vessel".

But: "Based on available photographs the 9.48 m kingpost does not match in length or configuration the kingposts on the TSMV Limerick".

It continues, noting that no wreckage from Limerick has ever been reported at Ballina and that a kingpost or samson post would not float far from wreckage.

Therefore, the assessment found: "The kingpost is very likely to be associated with a maritime related activity such as being part of wharf facilities or repair works on the breakwater. The kingpost may also have originated from the wreck of a vessel near the mouth of the Richmond River and/or may have been carried as cargo or salvage."

If the debris, originating from the mid-1900s, is from a maritime activity or shipwreck it is legally protected by legislation. Council said it preferred to leave the debris alone, but noted moving it would need approval.

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