What do killer sharks have in common with the CWA and a diamond jubilee?

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

This year, the National Archives of Australia celebrates 60 years since its establishment as an entity of the Commonwealth. Previously a division of the National Library, on 23 March 1961 the Commonwealth Archives Office officially came into being.

Since 1944, Australia’s national archive, (regardless of its name and legal status), has secured and made accessible our nation’s memory – whether it’s big events like the decision to send Australians to war, the landmark achievement for Indigenous Australians of the 1967 Referendum, or decisions of government that have shaped the quaint, humble and everyday of Australian life since 1901.

One of the quirkiest stories in the National Archives is the curious tale of how the Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) took on killer sharks and won. In 1933, the QCWA successfully campaigned to build a shark-proof enclosure at the Strand Beach near Townsville after an especially gory fatal shark attack.

The details can be found in the National Archives’ collection, including the QCWA’s letter calling for the shark-proof enclosure.

National Archives of Australia Director-General David Fricker says this story is just a tiny taste of the millions preserved in the National Archives.

‘The year 2021 marks 60 years since the Commonwealth Archives Office (now the National Archives of Australia) was established as its own agency,’ Mr Fricker said.

‘Since that time we have continued to safeguard the national archival collection – securing evidence of government decisions and preserving our nation’s memory,’ Mr Fricker continued.

‘We celebrate this significant milestone, recognising our role in preserving the enduring records of government – building trust, enabling transformation and facilitating access by Australians and researchers globally, now and into the future,’ Mr Fricker concluded.

Thanks to the National Archives, the story of the brave Queensland women who took on the killer sharks will continue to be safeguarded for generations to come.

Available for interview

  • David Fricker, Director-General, National Archives of Australia

Contact information

National Archives of Australia Media Team
Phone: 0417 247 157
Email: media@naa.gov.au

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