‘Most are nervous to venture back into the water’

OFFSHORE winds and big southerly swells at Wilson's Headland have created perfect surfing conditions this week. Yet the popular secluded Wooli spot is empty.

"Most are nervous to venture back out into the water," one Wooli resident said.

"And given what's happened, can you blame them?"

Less than a week ago, it was the scene of a shark attack which cut short the life of 15-year-old Mani Hart-Deville, leaving two neighbouring coastal communities numb.

Shortly after the incident, two memorial services were held: one at the beach and another at a friend's place at Wooli. On Wednesday, mental health professionals visited Minnie Water to help the community process the shock and grief of losing one of their own.

"Everybody's shattered because everybody here knows the young fella involved, but this community will get through this," Wooli Fishing Charters owner Stan Young said.

Although the two coastal villages are separate identities, the Minnie Water and Wooli communities are closely linked through their children, who attend Wooli Public School, the only school in the area.

"They all feed into that school, then they hop on the bus together and go to high school at South Grafton so they're all pretty close to one another," a Minnie Water resident explained.

On weekends and school holidays, it was common to see the mix of kids out on the water together.

"Everyone knows everybody," Mr Young explained.

"There are a lot of young fellas here that used to surf with (Mani) and knock around with him so it's a tragedy that's far-reaching," Mr Young said.

"But I'm sure they'll be back out in the water soon because it's what they all love doing."



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