When the shout of “shark” went up, the terrified grandad sprinted down the beach, spotted the 6ft killer in shallow water and dragged it away by its tail before it could strike.
Paul, 62, almost had his leg savaged before the ferocious animal was lured to deeper water by helicopters and lifesavers on jet skis.
The tourist said: “It’s shallow for about six yards where the shark was and a lot of babies and toddlers splash about there. It could have been very nasty.
“My instincts took over and I grabbed the shark by the tail. I know it was dangerous but it almost looked beautiful. You have to respect a beautiful animal.
“When I dragged the shark to just over a knee deep he turned on me and just missed me with a bite. It nearly took my leg off in a split second. It was that quick.”
After his heroics in Australia, Paul calmly returned to his stunned family and friends – and they carried on enjoying their barbecue in the sunshine His Aussie pals joked that only a Brit would be daft enough to tangle with a killer shark.
A TV news team was filming nearby and caught Paul’s astonishing bravery on camera.
But the modest grandad, of Merthyr Tydfil, played down his amazing battle with the dusky shark on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
He added that once he had dragged the animal out of range of the children he was desperate to make sure it could swim to safety away from the shallow water.
Paul, who was helped by another man, said: “People might say it was a stupid thing to do but when you see a beautiful beast struggling to survive you somehow tend to respect it and want to help it.
“We got hold of his tail and pulled with all our might to get the shark into deep enough water so the poor thing could survive. While I was pulling the shark her 2ft babies were swimming through my legs. They must have got lost and marooned by the shallow sand banks and got beached.
“I realise that this was dangerous but this shark is still part of God’s creation. It was magnificent.”
Paul, who is on a month-long holiday Down Under with wife Wendy, 56, and daughter Rachel, 21, was praised by the Australian coastguard. A spokesman said: “We don’t recommend manhandling sharks but this gentleman did a great job.”
Wildlife experts said the shark may have become disorientated because of sickness.
Dusky sharks are dangerous to humans though attacks are rare.
Paul’s pals back home are not surprised by his actions.
A neighbour said: “His main thought would have been for the kids. He did well.”