A father who lived to tell the tale of a savage shark attack in Perth’s Swan River has welcomed the introduction of a new safe zone for swimmers, but the site of a fatal mauling has missed out on similar protection.
A shark barrier is currently being installed at Bicton Baths in Melville in the wake of two high-profile river maulings, with 55 metres of reinforced netting to run the length of the jetty.
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The barrier has been designed to withstand all that can and will be thrown at it while it is in the water and developers promise the gaps between its sections have been sized to stop other creatures from getting caught.
It should be open to swimmers next week, which is perfect news for locals who believe it is long overdue.
“Some still have been swimming (in the river) but it’s taking a risk. I certainly wouldn’t train kids in there. Now (with the barrier) I will,” water polo coach Tom Hoad said.
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The joint state government and Melville council project was fast-tracked after 16-year-old Stella Berry was killed by a bull shark in February.
It was the first fatal shark incident in the Swan River in a century.
A shark barrier has been installed at Bicton Baths in Perth. Credit: 7NEWSFifty-five metres of reinforced netting will run the length of the jetty. Credit: 7NEWS
Two years before that attack, father Cameron Wrathall almost lost his life when he was set upon by a bull shark while swimming at Bicton’s Blackwall Reach on January 14, 2021.
The 3m predator launched into him with such force, he was left with a broken hip and critical bite wounds.
His was the first attack in the river in 50 years.
The shark barrier is a project Wrathall is passionate about and something he has actively pushed to see installed for some time.
“Education is an ongoing process. There’s always more you can do,” he told 7NEWS on Thursday.
Stella Berry was fatally mauled in the river earlier this year. Credit: SuppliedCameron Wrathall survived an attack in 2021. Credit: 7NEWS
Meanwhile the City of Fremantle this week backed an enclosed swimming area at Bathers Beach following a study of several locations.
Fremantle Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said Bathers Beach was currently underutilised and had plenty of positives, including groynes on each side and access to parking and public transport.
The council will now seek community feedback and apply for state government funding.
Bathers Beach got the nod over the site where Berry was mauled because the river foreshore scored poorly when considering space requirements, access and amenities, and compatibility with the heavy number of recreational and commercial vehicles already on the water.
However councillors have requested a detailed assessment of Harvey Beach in North Fremantle, about a kilometre north of where Berry was attacked, for consideration of a potential barrier in the future.
Wrathall believed some other Perth councils were likely sitting back to see the results of Melville’s barrier before seriously considering it for their own swimming spots.