BIG crowds, shark sightings and injuries provided a busy day for lifeguards on one of Newcastle's most popular stretches of sand.
Authorities were forced to close beaches from Merewether to Bar Beach after a shark sighting on Tuesday morning.
Surfers spotted a shark of unknown size and species at Dixon Park as Australia Day crowds were gathering along the beach.
Lifeguards searched for the shark but could not find it.
FROM THE ARCHIVES:Shark sightings in the Hunter | photos
They reopened the beaches soon after 10am but continued to patrol the area with jet skis and inshore rescue boats.
Later that day police and paramedics were called to reports a woman had been injured in the surf.
A NSW Ambulance spokesman said the woman, 45, suffered suspected spinal injuries and was to be transported to John Hunter Hospital for further treatment.
Australian Antarctic Division veteran Rick Burbury was mauled at Yarrawonga Park, near Morisset, last weekend by what authorities say was probably a bull shark.
Mr Burbury remained in John Hunter Hospital yesterday in a stable condition after the shark mauled his arm.
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