A Sydney family is lucky to have returned home from a weekend at Anna Bay in one piece after unknowingly playing a risky game of fetch with their dogs.
Dennis Spring and his daughters, Mischa, 17, and Shenandoah, 12, were exploring the Birubi sand dunes on Saturday afternoon when their dogs Peppah, a white female staffy, and Brixton, a brindle-coloured male staffy, began playing fetch with what looked like an old car part.
It turned out, however, to be an unexploded WWII mortar.
“Peppah is obsessed with playing fetch but we didn’t take [anything] with us into the dunes,” Mr Spring, from Castle Hill, said.
“So she got busy finding something to play with.
“She kept dropping this rusty thing at our feet and barking at us to throw it for her.
“I thought it was a car or bike part at first until my youngest daughter said ‘dad is that a bomb?’”
“Turns out that’s exactly what it was.
“I was like ‘Peppah no, put it down’ and we tried to clear off but she kept running back and bringing [parts of] mortars back to us, dropping it at our feet.”
Mr Spring used Google maps to pinpoint the location of the mortar and phoned police about 4.30pm.
The unexploded military mortar, about 15 centimetres in length, was located in the dunes about 200 metres from Jessie's Road in Anna Bay.
Detective Inspector Scott Parker, the Port Stephens police command’s crime manager, said Peppah and the family had a lucky escape on Saturday.
“There is a possibility it could have exploded in [Peppah’s] mouth,” he said.
On receiving the report of the mortar find, the Port Stephens command contacted the NSW Police Force’s Rescue and Bomb Disposal unit.
Rescue and Bomb Disposal then contacted the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
On Sunday, members of the RAAF attended the location of the Anna Bay mortar provided by Mr Spring.
The RAAF completed a “controlled detonation” on site, which disposed of the mortar.
“It’s fortunate on this occasion that it didn’t explode when found,” Detective Inspector Parker said.
“[Peppah] is quite lucky.
“We remind the public that if you do find old military ordnance to do as [Mr Spring] did and pinpoint the location and contact police and we will contact the ADF.”
For updates on the lucky pooches follow Peppah and Brixton on their dedicated Instagram page: peppah_brix