Vandalism leaves local history group 'speechless'
THE shipwreck of the HMAS Waree has been stuck off the Iluka coast for 71 years, but a plaque to commemorate it has only lasted a matter of weeks, thanks to an act of vandalism last week.
And for Iluka Museum co-ordinator Janet Hauser, it's hard to put into words how she felt on discovering the missing plaque.
"Speechless. I just can't believe someone would do this," she said.
"When it's a war memorial thing, it's just not right."
Ms Hauser was alerted to the vandalism by a neighbour and said they believe the plaque has gone missing sometime between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, most probably at night due to the sheer effort required to remove the plaque.
"The pole is concreted into the breakwall, so they'll never get it out of there," she said.
"But it's held on by rivets through stainless steel and gorilla glue, and they've busted the rivets right out."
The theft is a bitter pill to swallow after over 18 months of work by the Iluka History Group to have the wreck of the Waree commemorated by the plaque.
"We'd done all the research before we applied for the Federal grant through Veterans Affairs at least a year ago, and also sought help from the Naval History Association prior to that," she said.
"And we found out we'd received the grant at Christmas time so then we had to have the plaque made.
"The community goes to considerable effort to do something to share Iluka's history, and I'm just disgusted and disappointed someone could do something like this."
The group has been in contact with police, and said they were going to contact Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan's office to try to come up with a plan for a new one.