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Boys Marroning

This photo shows two of my boys, Brett on the right, his older brother Jamie in the middle and their mate Craig McCartney and they were more than happy putting the day in catching marron also most of the night.

The next photo shows us having a picnic on the river with some friends from the city, the Hayes. We would arrange to meet where-ever, they would travel roughly 100klms from the city and we would travel the same, but through the bush. They were good times.

The photo above shows another picnic with the Hayes and our two grandchildren Scott and Cherie.

The next photo shows Cherie and her cousin Daniel.

The above photo shows three of our boys holding a Mackerel. Which was caught from shore. We had travelled roughly 1000 klms North from where we lived. We camped there for two weeks and it's considered as good as fishing as anywhere in Australia, (Steep Point).

The next photo shows Brett and Jamie with 3 Pink Snapper also caught from the shore.

The following couple of photo's shows the different ways the kids entertained themselves during the day.


This photo shows another make-shift camp. We stayed here for two weeks and your looking at the kitchen. There were 7 adults and Russell Jack( as my Dad used to call him) camped around in little tents. We had travelled about 1300 klms to get to this spot.

The photo below shows Peter and Trish in the kitchen.

The next photo shows you how far we had to walk to fish the beach with our rods.

The photo above shows Peter fishing on the beach and you can't get better conditions and the results were good too.

In the photo above we are looking to see if the conditions were good enough for the dinghy and would you believe the dog would scratch at my leg and I knew he was insisting I put him where he is. He had this habit all his life, when the brother in-law and I were sitting on folder chairs fishing on the beach, the dog would jump onto my lap, then up onto my left shoulder and he would lean on the side of my head, which I didn't mind because it stopped the cold southerly wind getting in my ear.

It was also a game we played. I would whisper to him, (he'll kill you), I would repeat this about a half a dozen times, then I'd whisper "check it out" and with him leaning on my ear, I could hear the deep rumbling inside him. Then he would leap off my shoulder and run up the beach, go up on top of one of the biggest sand hills and continuously bark out of control. He seemed to know this was the only time I would not chat him for barking. When he came back he would be up onto my shoulder in the same position and I'd repeat it roughly every hour.

The photo above shows us beaching the dinghy. The next couple of photo's show you the catch.

The photo above shows you Fatty Fleay with a nice bald-chin Groper and a Mackerel and some nice Spangled Emperor also known as North-west Snapper. The next photo shows you the operating table.

At the end of a day like this, your thinking it can't get any better, blue skies, the temperature in the high 20's. When all of a sudden we get the scent of fresh fish, that the women are cooking. Then Mother Nature gives a final performance at sun-down check out the photo below.

Camping On The River

This photo was taken in January 1982 and we were camped on the river amongst the Paper-barks I think three nights, it was a long weekend. The little fella doing the paddling is our youngest son Craig, myself with him, the next oldest boy Brett is in the background and the wife swimming along side of us. Craig is 6 years old and he was full of beans, very active. So much so that sometimes he tried things that maybe he shouldn't have. Three older brothers wouldn't have helped and the next photo shows you that he has miss-judged this big time. But if you look at the distance he has traveled, it's a good effort.

This photo is a close-up and you can tell by the look on his face he has miss-judged it.

This photo shows you Craig and his mother and these perch were pulled from a little pool at the head of the Bingham River. It was maybe 15ft long and 10ft wide. It was surrounded by ribbon reeds. Every throw with the spinner, I would hook a Perch, then pass the rod to Craig and he would wind them in. When they got amongst the reeds and started splashing, he'd stop winding and watch them in the water. Even though a couple would get off, it was worth it to see the expressions on his face and the excitement.

You can see by their fins they are all alive. I walked about 100yrds to a farmers dam where Craig released them and watched them swim away. Today the blue-gums have prevented the water getting to the dam. Also these pools on the Bingham no longer exist. They hold a little bit of winter water but nothing in the summer.


The photo above shows us camped at Peron Station, North of Shark's Bay in the shearers quarters. There was no accomodation left in the Bay. Some very good friends of ours the Bassetts who were friends of the Station owners, got permission for us to camp there. Three families of us.

I've said before, there's nothing about the Shark-Bay district the Bassett's didn't know and if there was I believe it wasn't worth knowing. Arthurs parent's settled in the Bay in the 1800's. I remember this fishing trip like it was yesterday, but it was 30 years ago.

Arthurs son Phill was a professional fisherman and Arthur was an ex professional. He had an old bond-wood boat about maybe 21ft and he asked us if we would like to go over to Dirk-Hartog Island and camp for a couple of nights and we would also catch up with Phill who would be netting yellow-fin whiting, we jumped at the opportunity.

I remember when we first got there, it was a little after lunch. Arthur said would you like to go fishing or go with Phill netting. I chose the netting as I hadn't seen it before. As we were running the net around the school, I couldn't believe what I was looking at. The water is quite shallow maybe 3 or 4 ft deep, crystal clear. When we get to the shore and started to pull the net in, tightening the loop on the fish, I believe they were in the thousands.

When we finished scooping them out into a second dinghy he had and it was almost full. I said to Phill would this be one of your better shots. He laughed then told me of a time he seen a school, that he could not even estimate the amount. He told me he got on the two-way and got in touch with two brothers who were professionals and were somewhere in that area. They coupled their nets with Phills and run a loop.

When they seen what they had, Phill got on the two-way again to an old professional fisherman, who was semi-retired and I think just liked to be on the water. Like they say old habits die hard. The two brothers could handle 7 ton, Phill could handle 5 and the old fella could handle 2. When they opened the net to release what they could not handle, he said you could not see where we had taken these fish from, there was that many in the school.

The photo above shows us fishing on Arthur's boat the next day. Arthur's on the left, the fella in the middle we came onto living in a cave on Dirk-Hartog Island, he was hard to understand, he spoke Arabic and all we could understand was that the Americans were looking for him.

You can see how close we are to shore, we were in maybe 10ft of water and it was on instantly when your line hit the bottom. Two spud bags full and he was very protective of these spots. He told us once to quickly wind our lines up and he moved out into deeper water. I said what's wrong Arthur, he said I think there's a terrorist coming. (We know them as tourists), but it was a false alarm so we snuck back and continued to fish. He knew many spots like this one.

Arthur told me one time when he was fishing by himself on a spot similar to this and he was too wrapped in pulling in big snapper, when he looked up there was a tourist in a boat. He let go of his hand-line, which had a big snapper on and put his foot on the spool and stood there as if he was a tourist too. The fella in the boat asked Arthur if he was doing any good. Arthur said no, he also said I've only been here an hour. When they got out of range, Arthur pulled his big Pinky in.

The reason I've got this photo of Arthur with the Pinky, is I'm laying on the bunk taking photo's unable to fish, my back had gone on me.

The next photo shows some of the tribe having a bath in the famous Peron Station artesian bore. No-one had used this for a long time, when we got there we cleaned the muck and gluck off the top and bathed there every day for two weeks. The temperature is that hot you could only last 5 minutes and your body would start to tingle all over. It seemed to soothe your whole body.

They put many of these artesian bores down in the 1900's, due to the lack of surface water.

Shark-Bay Contd

The photo above shows our second oldest son Jamie on the left, then his cousin Daniel, our third oldest Brett, also cousins Bradley and Steven.

I was given the big fish by a friend who I didn't realize at the time was working out of Shark's Bay. He was a professional fisherman and the Authority's had hired his boat to work on the markers that lined the big shipping channel into the salt-works. They had set a hooker up on his boat and divers were checking the base of the markers.

I remember when I bumped into him in the pub and he told me what he was doing, he also said there was a lot of big Cod swimming around. So I suggested he shoot me one, he said no problem I'll bang you one tomorrow.

But the next day another friend, who lived in Shark's Bay,( Harry McVee) turned up and asked me if I wanted to go fishing, I've never knocked back a fishing trip in my life. So we headed for the tip of the Peron Station. After fishing all day and into the night, we were all as good as each other and we'd caught the same amount of (cans). I can't remember if we caught a fish, anyhow we found our way home.

I recall the wife saying Billy's been up and he's got a big fish waiting for you in the cooler at the pub. I said to Peter come on we'll go and get it. I remember walking through the door at the pub, I also remember saying to Peter, we'll have to try and walk straight.

Then I realized Billy and his mates were worse than us. When he spot's us he gives a bit of a cooee. I said Billy Reay I've come to pick up my fish. He said !oh shit! or words to that effect and then I thought you weren't going to turn up and I give it away. I stood there with my mouth open and I said Billy, Billy, Billy all the kids are up there and the wife's got f!!!ing chips on.

Then we all come undone at the seams. You won't believe this, but I think they serve beer after midnight. There good people. Billy turned up next day with the fish in the photo. The kids also had a good time up there as the next couple of photo's will show you.

Views From the Cave

This photo shows the parking area on top of the cliffs, also in line with the white sand, you can just make out the ravine we had to bring our camping gear down. Another job of mine was to follow the little sandy pad to the base of the cliff and carry the water back up to the cave, which was on the right of this photo. And to think some kids of today would complain when they had to walk across the lawn to get a bucket of water at the local camping ground. Also when you think, my mother cooked for seven and they were the tastiest meals you could get. I can still smell it coming out from the cave. Our main meal was fresh fish, straight from the ocean to the frying pan.

This view shows you looking to the left from the cave and the rocks you can see, was where my father used to fish. It was known as Split Rock and Apple Rock. I remember times when my father and older brothers would leave early in the morning and walk up to the far point to fish. My mother would make the beds and tidy up. Then she would take my little sister Phyllis who was 4 or 5 and myself, I was 8 or 9, up to where they were fishing.

Dad would give me a hand line. There was a hole between a couple of flat rocks and I could look down to the sea water. I would catch what they called Bandit Sweep, roughly half a pound. They had black and white stripes and we called them footballers.

I knew at the time and also now, how lucky we were to be brought up in a family like that. It's something money can't buy.

It is illegal to camp there now also the biggest percentage of our coast. Your not allowed to put up a little tent and camp . The Authorities or the white collar say it's FORBIDDEN. You can rest assure the one's that made this rule, have never experienced what I have just told you. Most of them believe that holiday's with their children, is looking out of glass windows from tall buildings surrounded by tar and cement, and big Shopping Centre's.

The average family, from the country or the bush, can't afford that style of living . Also Parks are now fast filling with permanent Chalet's, which is out of range of the battler. The worst example I have seen of this, was one time, I went on a fishing trip with 2 mates. We had travelled maybe 1000klms up the coast.

We'd never been on this part of the coast before. So we were taking different little bush tracks, that led down to the water and looking for what we considered to be the better water to fish. We were going to camp the night, we had 3 sleeping bags and we were looking forward to sleeping under the stars. Which I've done a thousand times.

One of the fellas with me was my brother-inlaw Peter Wardrope and a friend of ours Greg Corker. The both of these men had served in VIETNAM and finished up with a drinking problem, which was common for the returned soldier. They got themselves over that problem.

Also Peter has a sleeping disorder to this day. There was a song dedicated to this, and it said, "Doctor can you tell me why I can't sleep at night". If you were to listen to some of the stories the Soldiers tell. Like sneaking through the thick jungle, looking for the enemy and knowing that he was looking for you. At night time they would tell you to have a sleep. I don't know what the doctor told them, but you would'nt have to be too smart to work it out.

Anyhow we'd finished fishing that afternoon. Our swags were still rolled up and we were sitting on them having a cuppa. I looked up and I said to the boy's, we've got opposition, which was the last thing we expected, we were in the middle of nowhere.

These two fellas hop out of their vehicle and as they approached us, the older of the two said we're Fisheries Inspectors. (I thought you've got yourself to blame for that.) He did'nt have to tell me. The big young fella walked very similar to John Wayne. I even dropped my eye's expecting to see a holster. I said how ya going, he did'nt answer. Then I asked him what do they normally catch here, that we were from down south, again he did'nt answer.

He turned to Greg, who's a big lump of a man and a redhead and has trouble controlling what redheads are known for. Greg say's it's not my car, it's his and points to me. I was thinking if only Greg had some beer in him. In the meantime I had picked up a rod, cast and made like I was fishing. He repeats what he has already told us. I did'nt answer him, I also did'nt turn my head. He repeated it and I give him the same answer.

I heard his mate say "look at this". There was a little fish that we had caught and cut up for bait. The older one say's softly, "no,no leave it", as they walked back to their car, he say's" I don't want to see you here in the morning". I said to him "we'll work that out tonight when we finish fishing". When we woke up in the morning and we were having a cuppa and some breakfast.

I looked up on the hill line, here they were. They'd got out of their vehicle and were looking down at us. I thought to myself, now they looked like Indians. I said to Pete and Greg look, and then I said "I don't think their going to attack". And they did'nt. Whether it was because we were three and they were two.( I'll leave the judgement up to you).

Incidently we had picked up a Coles bag of bit's and pieces that other people had left there. Something we are against, especially tangled fishing line. And it would be nice to think that who ever visits here would do the same, regardless of your ranking. Unfortunately a lot of people of today, will leave their rubbish behind. That's why we have Rangers and Fisheries. It's easy to tell the difference between these people and genuine fisherman.

Start of Another Addiction

One of my fathers passions was fishing and back in the 1950's. He would load up the Vanguard ute with a canopy on, with enough supplies to last a week or sometimes two, also mum and five kids. We would camp inside a cave, which you can see at the base of the cliffs in this photo. I'm not too sure how it got there or who put it there but there was an old kerosine fridge.

Our water supply came from a fresh underground creek, that came out from the base of the cliffs. It formed a small pool that I presume, was gouged out by the fast flowing creek and tells us that our winters were a lot heavier in the past.

I remember following my father down from the cave, also my brothers and we would walk onto these rocks you can see in the photo. On the far side we would have to jump the creek, it ran into the sea.

This photo shows you the narrow path that we had to negotiate to get all our camping gear to the cave. I don't know of any other families that done this. I know quite a few adults who would camp there and fish, but I doubt if they had five kids.

As you can see this is from the inside of the cave looking out. I returned and took these photo's four years ago. The line of poles you can see have been put there in recent times, I think it's for the tourists who walk the Cape to Cape.

One thing I can tell you for sure, there was no better sight or feeling than to be sitting in that cave with your family, by tilly light and hurricane light run by kerosine. Every now and then we would see the lights of a big ship on the horizon.

Then in the morning it was like a quiz show and we would try and identify the different animal tracks, that had crawled along side of you in the night. I'd like to think I'm wrong but the tracks you can see in the sand are feral cats, out of control big time on our coastline. Also the forests.

The big rock you can see in the distance, is where my father liked to fish from. It is known as Bob's Rock also the cave is known as Bob's Cave, and overall it's known as Bob's Hollow. I don't know the story, maybe he was one of the first settlers. I know they put the little tracks through to the coast to go fishing, before the time of the Authorities.

My father used to tell me of an old gentleman who used to turn up in a horse and cart. Dad said sometimes you could smell him before you could see him, because he had a big tin of burley that was really on the nose, I suppose coming over the limestone rock's would shake it up making it worse. His name was Fred Fox. My father knew him most of his life and would bump into him now and then when they were old men, fishing in Augusta.

This is all that's left of the freshwater creek at Bob's Hollow and it no longer makes it to the beach.

This is a photo of where the pond used to be at the base of the cliff. You can see where they have dug a hole on the right of the photo, with a metal top over it. I suppose looking for water for the tourists walking Cape to Cape. Something that used to amaze me as a young fella I could get little crabs and gilgy's out of the same water. There times I will never forget thanks to my Mother and Father.

Another Picnic

This photo shows my wife holding a small pig in a bag, also the two boys holding a roadkill a small kangaroo, I was out of dog meat, normally I wouldn't have done this because my dogs were all pig-dogs and I didn't want them to show any interest in a kangaroo.

You can see the fire in the background and the blanket on the ground with all the barbecue gear. The boys range in age from 2 to nine, the youngest Craig then Brett and Jamie the oldest boy Dave who was eleven and his mate Mick are away putting chook pellets in the water.

When they returned we would have our barbecue, then when it was dark enough the boys would go around their baits with their scoop nets, I would put a tin bucket on the fire half full of water to cook the marron. All those years ago 33 to be exact.

The reason that it's so clear in mind, the two dogs that caught the little pig were 4 months old and I thought that this was an achievement that not too many dogs have done. I had left their mother and father at home experienced pig dogs , to the max.

While travelling out to where we were going marroning, about 20klms out we were travelling along a newly cleared Power-line through the forest and a mob of about ten feral pigs came across the clearing a couple of hundred yards in front, just what I was hoping, for the pups.

The vehicle we were travelling in was a Holden Ute, three boys in the back and two pups, myself and the wife with the two boys in the front. The pups screaming with excitement also the boys, front and back. There were many good times like this.

Extremes in Weather

The photo shows you Augusta turning bad, it is where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.

You can see the famous Augusta Water Wheel, that supplied the water to the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Which were both constructed by convicts in 1885.

You can see the wind picking up the spray from the wave and throwing it 50-60yrds up onto the rocks.

The next photo shows you a calm day and the extremes of the Augusta weather. You can wash your hands at the waters edge.

Over a lifetime of camping at Augusta, I have lost score of how many people, have said to me " Were not coming back". Different one's would say we have been here for a week or maybe 2 or 3 and they might have got their boat in once. Some never get their boat wet. It's for this reason Augusta produces like it does.

It's that unpredictable you can't make arrangements to go fishing tomorrow. We would never go out early in the morning. We would like to leave it to about 8o'clock and you could judge the sea a bit better. You can get a false reading early in the morning. What we liked to do was drive up to the big hills you can see on the right and look out towards the horizon to see what the swells were doing.

Even then we would get it wrong sometimes. Fronts can come on you real quick when your out there and they will go just as quick. This can happen maybe 3 or 4 times and it's best not to be out there when this is happening. Because the next one could be the bad one that stay's with you. Not only are you in for a rough ride coming in, the passages you have to navigate can be dangerous in rough weather.

You cannot go by the weather forecast for they are wrong as many times as they are right. I've seen times when I'm standing on the big hill looking out to the horizon and I could blow smoke-rings, not a breath of air. Yet the seas are at their worst, massive swells and white water everywhere. They have come in from the big storms that have passed through out wide from Augusta, maybe a couple of hundred kilometre's out. So there's a simple rule, if there's doubt don't go out.

This is what it can turn into. I've heard people say the sun never shines in Augusta, but the next photo shows you that this is not so. It's just a matter of being in the right place or the right house.

Some day's it's easier to get a feed than others. This has only happened to me once. We'd decided to go fishing and to see if we could catch dinner for the tribe. I was with the brother-inlaw Pete and a good friend Maurie, we pulled up in the car-park alongside of a van with two tourists in it. The young man that was driving looked at Peter and said "are you fishermen", Peter said "yes" and the young fella said "you come and have a look at this", they walked off together towards the water's edge, while Maurie and myself were getting the fishing gear ready.

All of a sudden Peter said look here and he's got this seven and a half lb jumbo that I'm holding. It turns out the young fella and his girlfriend are from Switzerland, which is landlocked and they had never seen anything like it. They had come onto it, stranded in the rocks. The tide had gone out and it was maybe 20ft from the water line. He told us he had been flicking little stones at it and watching it move.

I asked them where they were camped and it turns out they were only a couple of hundred yards from where we were staying. So we invited them over for the evening meal. I said I would cook the crayfish and you can try it. She twisted her mouth saying I will not eat that and she did'nt. I think he was being polite and ate just a little. Which wasn't a problem because we always had a variety of different types of seafood, including Abalone.

All our friends would turn up who we would only catch up with at Christmas and Easter. The women would make up their different types of salads and sweets. Myself and a few of the mates would go out and dive for cray's and Abalone. Then we would go out in the dinghy and catch whatever we needed maybe 5 or 6 dozen whiting and herring. We often said if we had to pay for what we were eating we'd be a lot poorer for it. Sometimes there would be around 20 adults and I've lost count of how many kids.

The above photo shows Maurie with a few Crays ready for the table.

Nothing goes to waste. This is four of our grandchildren. Rick on the left, Leah feeding Crystal and it looks like Daniel is checking to see she's not getting too much.

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