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Beach Grit

Yike: See the World’s Sharkiest Paddle!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

Wall to wall bull sharks…

You heard of South Straddie? You know the name, right? That man-made collection of often outrageously good beachbreaks on the north side of the Southport Seaway on Queensland’s Gold Coast?

In a north-west wind, and with even just a little swell, whee-baby.

Getting there ain’t as simple as parking a car, suiting up and paddling off the beach, howevs. Between you and the waves is a two hundred metre paddle across what is, according to rumour, a shark-filled body of water between the two rock groynes.

Options.

You either pay five bucks or whatever it is and get the ferry (con: you feel like a sissy to travel two hundred metres in a boat) or you take your panties off and jump in, dodge the fishing trawlers, and get there yourself.

I lived on that otherwise god-forsaken coast for a decade and, most mornings, I’d drive thirty minutes north to the seaway, dive in and get an hour of thin-lipped cabanas before work. Early in my tenure there, if I didn’t have a pal to paddle across with, I’d tail a couple of other surfers. Before long, I was solo, but still very scared.

Once, as a surf magazine prank, we made a pro surfer swim across the channel with a fish tied to his leg.

So how sharky is the seaway paddle?

As revealed by the Gold Coast Bulletin yesterday, the joint really is crawling with bull sharks.

It is a picture that would strike terror into anyone who frequents the waters near the Gold Coast Seaway.

A pack of bull sharks are seen scouring the sea floor while the boardriders who paddle across to South Stradbroke Island are blissfully unaware of what lies beneath.

But a veteran Gold Coast diver believes the photo should be celebrated, not feared.

Ian Banks took the amazing image while on a solo dive outside the mouth of the seaway last Monday.

“This photo shows that the seaway has a healthy ecosystem of marine life,” he said.

“The area is a gathering point not just for sharks but rays and fish too.”

stingrays

Stingrays, don’t mind those.

The 60-year-old now lists the seaway as his favourite place to dive.

“It is a very special place,” he said.

“From a diving point a view it is the best mainland shore dive in any city in Australia.

“There’s not one reef in this area that comes within one per cent of the big fish that the Seaway has.”

Ain’t that reassuring.