With so many people swimming and boating on the river and out in Laguna Bay since European settlement, it is to be expected that there would be mishaps; some light-hearted and some tragically fatal. The bar across the mouth of the river at Noosa Heads caused trouble for ships right from the outset. Early soundings revealed shifting sands within the estuary, which were bound to cause difficulty even for experienced seamen, including locals familiar with the Noosa River. Several Gympie Terrace residents, the Massoud brothers in particular, rescued many people from both inconvenient and dangerous situations on the water.

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Gympie Terrace, circa 1930s

A boating mishap occurred near Goat Island around Christmastime, 1932. Visitors aboard a motorboat collided with a smaller boat belonging to Gympie Terrace residents, forcing the smaller vessel and her occupants into the river. Luckily no-one was injured.

In April 1933, Jean Dunstan (nee Wallace) was visiting her parents with her husband, Frank, and their young family. They had recently returned from Siam (Thailand). One afternoon, Frank went fishing in the river with the two young boys, Allan and Richard, aged 5 and 3. Richard fell overboard. Frank handed Allan the oars and dived into the water. He apparently resurfaced about 50 metres away, only to disappear again suddenly. Allan had the presence of mind to drop the anchor to stop the boat from drifting and shortly afterwards a visitor heard his cries for help and alerted the police in Tewantin. It was soon clear that they were too late to rescue the man or his son. With the help of locals and the Cooroy police, they began to drag the bottom of the river with grappling irons. The body of Richard was recovered by his own grandfather that afternoon. The body of Frank Dunstan, believed to have drowned after suffering from cramps related to his war injuries, was recovered the following day. They were buried in Tewantin cemetery. Jean remained living with her parents at Wallace House until they passed away.

Even locals could run into trouble on the river. Joseph Ely, of Gympie Terrace, and his two sons were attempting to cross the bar in July 1933 when their boat was swamped by sudden big waves. Their engine was put of action and their launch began to drift. D. Gibson and Leslie Fitzgerald witnessed the situation and were able to swim out with a rope and were able to pull them back to shore.

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Munna Point, circa 1930

A Christmas present for 11-year-old Errol Vansleve, visiting Gympie Terrace from Eumundi in 1933, was being saved from drowning, having fallen overboard from a dinghy. Luckily Ivan Massoud and M. Littlefort were close enough to rescue the boy.

Another tragic event occurred in May 1938. Annie Burkhardt, a 21-year-old maid at Laguna House, who was living at Gympie Terrace, was invited on a boating trip by a guest from Brisbane, William Cunnigham. They were cruising in Laguna Bay near the mouth of the Noosa River in light speed boat when heavy seas suddenly struck and upturned their vessel and swept them out to sea. As they clung to the boat, another visitor, Walter Broome, a middle-aged farmer from Nanango, left his wife and three young children on the beach and jumped into a dinghy with a small outboard motor and attempted to rescue the young couple as they disappeared in the mountainous waves. To their horror, the Broomes, watched as their husband and father’s small boat also capsized and he disappeared. Meanwhile, the police, locals and a plane sent from Brisbane began searching for the three missing people. Percy Hay, the River Pilot, and others attempted to search by sea but were unable to cross the bar due to the heavy seas. Cunningham was soon found conscious and walking, washed up on the north beach about a mile away. He was taken back to Laguna House for rest. Burkhardt was found four hours later with a faint pulse and rushed to hospital in a motor truck. Several attempts were made to revive her during the journey but to no avail. A doctor was similarly unable to resuscitate her and Burkhardt died that evening. Broome’s body was never found.

Trouble in Laguna Bay occurred again during dangerous weather in 1940 when a disabled boat was unable to reach the shore. Luckily, after two previous rescue attempts were capsized, Bill Massoud successfully rowed a dinghy out to the vessel and managed to steer it safely into the Noosa River.

Trouble of a different kind raised its head in 1944. Ivan Massoud and friends were returning to Gympie Terrace from the river mouth when a shark attacked their boat and took a large bite at its side, nearly causing it to capsize. Several locals were sceptical until an inspection of the vessel show not just teeth marks but bits of broken teeth stuck in the wood, which were dug out with a penknife to prove the tale.

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Gympie Terrace, date unknown