Surfer and former Hunter resident Nick Slater has been remembered as a loving father and friend who died doing what he loved after he was killed in a shark attack while surfing off the coast of Queensland.
Mr Slater was dragged from the water by surfers at Greenmount Beach at Coolangatta on Tuesday afternoon.
The 46-year-old real estate agent suffered serious leg injuries in the attack, but despite the best efforts of paramedics and bystanders he could not be saved.
Mr Slater grew up in the Hunter and attended Toronto High School.
Lifelong friend Laurie Minto, who also went to Toronto High, paid tribute to "a legend lost" in a touching Facebook tribute. He told The Newcastle Herald they were both "Novocastrians at heart" who had moved to the Gold Coast, a place Mr Slater always loved.
"Nick loved life, despite being served more than his share of challenges, he chose to live optimistically," Mr Minto said.
"Nick loved surfing... If there was a wave to ride, Nick was surfing.
"Nick loved his parents and would call them daily and regularly go to Coffs to visit them.
"Nick loved his son and longed to be in his life.
"Nick loved his mates and has a broad circle of friends, many close as he took the time to maintain his friendships.
"RIP brother! You will be sadly missed by many, but never ever forgotten, all my love your fellow 'Wildman'."
Friend and former Hunter resident Jasmine Robson said "the gravity of this tragedy will be felt by the surfing community from Newcastle to the Gold Coast for eternity."
"Nick was loved by all that knew him," she told The Herald. "A fun loving guy who lived in the water and relished every moment.
"He died doing something he loved at one of his favourite beaches and we all have to take comfort in that."
Tim Carver, who used to live with Mr Slater in Bar Beach about 24 years ago, said he just remembers Mr Slater as a "great guy".
"I used to surf with him a lot at Bar," Mr Carver said. "He'd just come out of the Armed Forces.
"He was good fun to hang out with.
"I'm in shock. I can't believe it."
Newcastle band The Fools posted a touching tribute to Mr Slater on their Facebook page on Wednesday.
"It is with much regret to advise that our mate Nick was tragically taken from us in a shark attack yesterday," the post said.
"Nick was a great friend to the band, an integral part of the Parkhurst crew, a Trono boy.
"To all that surfed, worked, lived, and partied with Nick over the years, please take some time today to reflect on his life and the great times we shared with him.
"Nick: Ride on mate."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate offered his condolences to Mr Slater's family and friends.
Beachgoers have been advised to stay out for the water, as lifeguards on jet skis and helicopters search for the shark and beaches remain closed from the NSW border to Burleigh Heads.
"Look after your mates. I mean really it brings to reality, when we go off the land we go into water, it is the shark's domain. The danger's there," Mr Tate said.
His death is the second fatal shark attack in Queensland in almost two months.
More to come.
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here