Lake Macquarie History

Bernie Goodwin Memorial Park, Morisset

Named after Bernie John Goodwin who drowned after saving four children who were swept out in the surf at Moonee Beach in 1973.

From Lakes Mail, 25th May 2018

Lake Macquarie City Council's recent announcement of an $818,000 upgrade of Bernie Goodwin Reserve, in Morisset, has revived memories of the man whose name adorns the popular recreational area.

John Bernard Goodwin, 49, drowned while rescuing four Morisset schoolboys who had been caught in a rip at Moonie Beach, near Catherine Hill Bay, while on a school excursion on March 15, 1973.

Mr Goodwin, a bus driver, had driven the students to the beach, where some entered the surf to swim.

Four boys became separated from the group, and got into trouble. Mr Goodwin entered the water and returned three of the boys safely to the shore. He then re-entered the water and swam out about 90 metres in an attempt to reach the fourth boy. At that point the rip was very strong and carried them both a distance out to sea. Mr Goodwin was able to reach the boy and supported him for a considerable time. Just as the pair were to be rescued by surfboard riders, Mr Goodwin disappeared under the water. His body was never recovered.The coroner found that Mr Goodwin probably suffered a heart attack.

Mr Goodwin's story is folklore is Morisset, and he has now received state and federal awards for his act of bravery. In 2016, the state government finally acknowledged Mr Goodwin's act of bravery when it awarded him a Premier's Award, and in March this year, the federal government awarded Mr Goodwin the Australian Bravery Medal, in the Australian Bravery Honours list for 2018.

Local historian and author Doug Saxon, who wrote about Mr Goodwin in his book Morisset Memories, 1891- 2016, said the honours were a long time coming, but deserved. "I am very pleased to know that Bernie has now received both state and federal honours," Mr Saxon said. In his book, Mr Saxon noted: "In March, 1974, The Bernie Goodwin Memorial Park was dedicated. In March, 1977, Jean, Bernie's wife, unveiled a plaque at the opening of the Bernie Goodwin Memorial Gates."

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