THE money raised by the Manning Aquatic Festival committee for more than 40 years to help transform the Manning River foreshore and the work carried out by the former Taree Municipal Council was recognised when an plaque was unveiled this week.
This was the brainchild of long-term Manning resident Bob Ezzy, who spent his formative years growing up within a stone's throw of the Manning River and was a regular Aquatic Festival attendee.
The plaque was unveiled on a walkway near Taree Aquatic Club the latest addition to the riverbank facilities. This came about through funding gained by the then federal Member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott.
The initial improvements the building of a retaining wall started at the southern end of the foreshore in 1953 and all the monies were raised locally, the majority by the Aquatic Association.
"That's something Taree can be proud of and thankful for,'' Bob said.
Four former Aquatic Association presidents, Warren Ruprecht, Graham Kinnear, Mick Neal and Ted Hill attended, as did relatives of those who carried out the work on the retaining wall.
They were led by council foreman Bill Court, who Bob was described as a driving force behind the project. Mr Court's sons, Jim, Ron and Peter and daughter Trish (Jones) were in attendance and assisted Mr Ruprecht with the unveiling.
Bob recalled growing up in River Street and heading to the baths (Taree Pool) along a narrow riverbank strip.
The riverbank was then just mud and mangroves. He remembered attending the Aquatic Carnivals and later watching the transformation of the riverbank as funds started to flow in from proceeds from the Aquatic.
The famous Australian actor, Chips Rafferty, was a special guest on one occasion. There was a prawn eating competition held on a semi-trailer near where the Aquatic Club now stands. Bob was a teenager then.
"I don't know if he felt sorry for me or not, but he paid my way into the competition,'' Bob laughed.
He didn't finish among the placegetters, but it was an act of generosity he's never forgotten.
Bob also recalled what he described the 'laborious and meticulous' work carried out by the council outdoor staff in constructing the retaining wall.
He said Bill Court would often be seen there after hours, waist deep in water enduring all the rocks were properly in place.
"You look here now and you can only but admire the beauty of the area,'' he said.
"This was built by the people of Taree. Taree should be very proud.''