Fishing for free beer
JOHN is a fisherman used to pulling spanner crabs, snapper and mullet from his net. But since a semi-trailer loaded with beer crashed off the Pacific Highway into the Richmond River near Wardell recently, he's been fishing for stubbies. "I got about 60 six-packs in 20 minutes the first time," he said.
"I've been three times now and got about 2000 stubbies altogether. "But I've heard of other guys who have pulled out around 4000 stubbies," he said.
John, who didn't want his surname published, said he heard about the beer bounty in the river from a couple of mates who had already been helping themselves.
"Word of mouth spread pretty quick."
The beer was sitting in two to three metres of water and John and his brother fished it out using a long handled gaffe and nets.
"There was Carlton Cold in plastic which you could grab with a gaffe hook. There's also Carlton Dry in cardboard and it just sort of bobbed around. You had to get it in a net."
John said he once took his kids down and they were 'over the moon' about pulling a few six-packs out with the gaffe hook. Another local fisherman, Paul, and his mate nearly sunk their tinnie one night after overloading it with about 70 cartons of beer.
"I've given most of it away," Paul said.
"I don't need that much beer and you've got to drink it before the tops go rusty." Unfortunately for anyone still thinking about going down and getting their own bumper catch, the easy pickings have all been taken.
"I went down the other day and there was a few guys diving and still pulling beer out," John said.
"But it was right on the bottom and sunk in the mud." He also said the site had been left in 'a terrible mess'. "It was a total disgrace how people left the place. There were bottles and plastic everywhere."
It's not the first time a beer truck has left its cargo on the bottom of a river for locals to fish out.
On Good Friday in 2001 a semi-trailer carrying 40,000 bottles of beer crashed into the Tweed River near Murwillumbah.
Local film makers Gary Doust and Brook Wilson made an award-winning documentary about that recovery.
The film was named after the beer which became known as 'Murbah Swamp Beer' because the labels had come off the bottles and only the letters MSB were left.