Ashley Ramage catching waves during a Bali surf trip in 2014.
Ashley Ramage catching waves during a Bali surf trip in 2014.

FACING FEAR: Back in surf after narrow escape at Archies

WHILE it's rare for surfers to get into strife with sharks off the Bargara coastline, it's not completely unheard of.

A Wednesday surf at Archies Beach turned into a survival story for father and son duo: Ashley Ramage and Damon, who was 13 at the time.

Mr Ramage said the shark he encountered on January 27, 2010 at 4.30pm was bigger than his 6ft 2in surfboard and an estimated 2m long.

"Damon and I went through images of east coast sharks the night of the attack and identified it as a Silky Shark, I think its also called a Grey Whaler," he said.

"I was requested to come in to Department of Fisheries for an interview a few weeks after the attack and I was told they are a curious and aggressive shark, responsible for lots of net destruction on trawlers.

"They only like clear water so aren't too common around the Bargara shoreline which is often a bit cloudy because of the Burnett River.

"But the water was particularly clear that day."

Just days after the incident, the NewsMail reported his son's warning may have saved his life - or at least his leg.

The report read Mr Ramage knew something was wrong by the way Damon yelled "Dad!".

"I turned around to look at him and saw this big grey shape and a fin come out of the water at me," he said.

"I was pretty lucky to get a warning.

"Damon yelling gave me enough time to lift my feet out of the water."

Mr Ramage used his board to create a barrier between himself and the shark, and punched the water when he thought it was under his board before paddling in and yelling at his son to get out of the water.

Speaking to the NewsMail about the incident a decade on, Mr Ramage said the duo went surfing at Nielson Park just four days after the attack.

"We were very skittish and I kept looking around and down all the time in the water," he said.

"I jumped at every shadow and actually squealed when two waves slapped together near me.

"But we got through it and caught some waves.

"I was significantly affected for about a year, thinking about it as I paddled out and sat on my board but the fear gradually diminished."

Mr Ramage said he still surfed and went paddle boarding as did Damon occasionally.


Ashley Ramage's son Damon catching a wave.
Ashley Ramage's son Damon catching a wave.

"I haven't seen a shark since that day strangely enough," he said.

"Sightings were quite common while I lived on the Sunshine Coast, mostly smaller ones chasing bait fish."

Mr Ramage said he repaired the board, which had a few small teeth puncture marks in the tail, and sold it a few years after the attack.

He said while he knew sharks had their place, he doesn't have any affection for them.

"I'm sure we aren't generally on their menu though, think of all the humans floundering around in the water up and down our coastlines every weekend," he said.

"We are helpless compared to their speed and power.

"Clearly they are mostly uninterested in us and the occasional encounter is just maybe curiosity on their part and bad luck on ours."


Ashley Ramage surfing at Mon Repos, just around the corner from Archies beach at Bargara.
Ashley Ramage surfing at Mon Repos, just around the corner from Archies beach at Bargara.

Mr Ramage said Queensland should remove nets, to prevent snaring turtles, whales and dolphins, and keep the baited lines while investing in drones to monitor popular beaches.

"The technology is there and ultimately it would be a boost for tourism to have increased confidence in beach safety," he said.




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