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Rupert Davies wearing a suit and tie

Coogee Beach is one of the most beautiful, serene beaches in Sydney. I was once home to an aquarium that housed a massive tiger shark in 1935 for a week. This predator of the deep was caught three kilometres off the beach by fishermen. While families gazed at the shark located inside its tank, they witnessed it vomit up a human arm. That’s right. A human arm was regurgitated by the poor sick shark and bobbed to the top of the tank while visiting children screamed in horror. The shark was then euthanatized and an autopsy discovered it had in fact eaten a smaller shark who it is believed had swallowed the limb. A tattoo and fingerprints were used to identify the arm’s owner and a huge investigation led to the police convicting a murderer who later confessed he had tossed it in to the surf in Maroubra.

By all accounts this is true, and really, we should be soon watching Underbelly: Shark Arm. The arm belonged to former boxer Jim Smith who was caught up in some dishonest dealings with convicted forger Patrick Brady (pictured) when he was murdered. Brady admitted to discarding the body in Gunnamatta Bay, but used the severed arm to threaten Reginald Holmes, claiming he would meet the same fate if he didn’t pay the money he owed. Brady then tossed the arm into Maroubra where the poor shark(s) came in to the story.

The Coogee Palace Aquarium structure suffered from neglect for many years and when a Conservation Order was placed on it by the Heritage Council in May 1982, its condition had deteriorated considerably.

In June 1984 strong winds and torrential rain combined to ‘decapitate’ the structure and the huge dome collapsed.

In 1986 Randwick Council approved renovation of the Coogee Palace Aquarium and the restoration of the dome and by the end of 1987 a new Coogee Palace had been developed on the site. The new development contains a mixture of restaurants and specialty shops.