March 25 - 31, 2018: Issue 353
Pittwater Fishermen: Great Mackerel, Little Mackerel (Wilson's Beach - Currawong) and The Basin
... At the seaward end of the outer beach, where parties find safe swimming water, the trustees are proposing to place another wharf of stone, and to run from it a netting to prevent sharks entering a bathing enclosure. Opinions amongst yachters and motor-boaters vary respecting this. Some condemn the proposals entirely; preferring the natural surroundings. Others say the idea is good, as they have always felt they would like to swim in a bit deeper water, but they feared the huge sea-sharks that swim around Barranjoey and West Head and chase whiting and red-bream up into the Basin. The trustees are not obstinately wedded to any proposal. Inquiry shows that they welcome ideas, especially artistic ones allied with practicability, but they do not have them given to them often. They find critics wait till something is done, and then fall upon it with scorn. Any yachtsman, therefore, who has a thorough appreciation of the necessities of the Basin and puts his ideas into writing, will receive attention. For instance, another improvement meditated is the planting of trees about tho 20 acres surrounding Peggy's house. The trees on the camping area are not as beautiful as they might be. One proposal before the trustees was to plant an avenue of pines along tho outer edge of the camping ground — the straight line business again— and another to plant here and there a few silverbark tea trees, Port Jackson fig trees, and flame trees. The latter proposal seems to find the greater favor amongst those who visit the Basin oftenest. ...THE BASIN (1915, May 30). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 23. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229334724
Head of McCarrs Creek, Pittwater, 1879-1892 Image Number; a106169, Courtesy of State Library of NSW.
John Doyle, the tenant on what is now called Avalon Beach lands, preceding the Collins family, drowned in Pittwater on January 20th, 1841:
INQUEST.-An inquest was held on Tuesday morning at the house of Mr. Murphy, the sign of the Bard's Legacy, Queen's Wharf on the body of John Doyle, who was accidentally drowned by the upsetting of a boat at Pitt Water, on Wednesday, the 20th instant. The body was found at Broken Bay on Monday last by some fishermen,who brought it to Sydney. It appeared from the evidence that the persons who were in the boat along with deceased at the time the accident occurred, as well as deceased himself, were perfectly sober, and the jury returned a verdict of accidental death. THE REGATTA. (1841, January 28). Australasian Chronicle(Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31730651
Records indicate that Mr. Doyle was not the only man to lose his life in small boats on Broken Bay that year:
James M'Quillan. Pilot, Brisbane Water, was unfortunately drowned while crossing from Pitt Water to Brisbane Town, by his boat being caught in a squall and capsizing. Mr. M'Quillan is much regretted Summary of Public Intelligence. (1841, July 31). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2554037
A few days ago, as Mr. James M'Quillen, the pilot at Brisbane Water, was crossing in his own boat from Pitt Water to Brisbane a squall upset the boat, and Mr. M’Quillen and a man named George Ford,who was with him at the time, were both unfortunately drowned. The body of Mr. M’Quillen was found lying upon the beach, but the body of Ford has not since been heard of. Insolvent Debtors' Court. (1841, July 31). Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31732459
Mary Ann, 9 (tons), Farrell, from Pittwater, with 250 bushels lime, 8000 shingles, and 1 ton potatoes Harriett, 15, Crause, from Brisbane Water, with 50,000 shingles, and 1000 feet timber, Trial, 14, Robinson, from Brisbane Water, with shells ; Mary, 15, Turner, from Brisbane Water, with lime ; Twible, from the Hawkesbury, with 4 hogsheads brandy, and 700 bushels maize ; COASTERS INWARDS. (1842, August 17).The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12408120
Brown, from Brisbane Water, with 9,000 feet cedar ; Mary Ann, 9, Farrell, from Pittwater, with furniture and shells COASTERS INWARDS. (1842, November 21). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12409729
Mary Ann, 9, Wilson, for Pittwater and Port Aiken, In ballast; COASTERS OUTWARDS. (1842, December 22). Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31738315
Swan, 9, Wilson, from Pittwater, with shells COASTERS INWARDS. (1843, January 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12424818
Mary Ann, Noon, from Broken Bay, with shells; Alexander, 10, M'Guigan, from Pittwater, with shells; COASTERS INWARDS. (1843, March 28).Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article31739290
In 1843 the Broken Bay Customs station was opened at Barrenjoey under John B Howard to stop the estuary and its adjacent waterways being utilised by Smugglers. Visit Smuggling at Broken Bay by Shelagh Champion OAM. This was not without a false start:
On Wednesday last, a boat was picked in the vicinity of Bird Island by the steamer Thistle, on her passage from Morpeth. She had made signals to the steamer, which was instantly stopped for the purpose of affording succour. The boat was found to belong to the Customs, having on board Mr. Howard and a party of three men from the Custom's department, who had left Sydney in company with another boat, for the purpose of forming the new custom-house station at Broken Bay. After getting outside the heads, they had parted company, and a gale of wind coming on from the south-west, Mr. Howard's boat was driven off the shore, when, notwithstanding their most strenuous efforts, they could not make head-way towards the land. Captain Mullhall took them on board the Thistle, and also had the boat hoisted in, and brought them back to Sydney. Had the Thistle not passed about that time, there is every probability that the boat would have been 1 driven to sea and all hands been lost, having been already twenty-four hours short of provisions. The other boat, which had also three men on board, has not since been heard of, and fears are entertained for her safety. PROVIDENTIAL DELIVERANCE. (1843, April 29). The Colonial Observer (Sydney, NSW : 1841 - 1844), p. 989. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article226361800
A description from 1850 also tells us the shells (formerly middens) brought in by the tons through coasters is exhausted;
PITTWATER, BRISBANE WATER, AND THE HAWKESBURY.
These places, although near Sydney, are but little frequented by Sydney people, except by such of the coasting traders as go there for grain, timber, and shells. No part of the country, however, affords a better field for the home tourist toil-worn citizen who is able to spare a days from his ordinary avocations will find it much cheaper, as well as more healthful to take a voyage in this direction with his family than to visit the interior towns. During, the summer season, there are many small coasters lying idle at their moorings in consequence of their having little or nothing to do, and these, with a couple of seamen to work them, may be hired for a mere trifle for the task. Several days will be occupied in the journey upwards, but on arriving at Windsor the tourist may return to Sydney in a few hours, leaving the men to bring back their vessel. The voyage from Sydney to Broken Bay, does not occupy more than four hours, if the wind be fair, and the rest of the trip is in smooth water, so that even those persons who are apt to suffer much from sickness, have very little to dread in such a journey as the one we have alluded to.
The coast between the north head of Port Jackson, and the south head of Broken Bay presents little or nothing worthy of notice except a large natural archway in the rocks a few miles from the latter place, which is generally known among the coasting traders, as "hole in the wall."
W.H. Raworth (Brit./Aust./NZ, c1821-1904). St Michael’s Arch, NSW [Avalon] c1860s. Watercolour, signed lower left, obscured title in colour pencil verso, 34.2 x 56.5cm. Tear to left portion of image, slight scuffs and foxing to upper portion. Price (AUD): $2,900.00 at:https://www.joseflebovicgallery.com/pages/books/CL181-53/w-h-raworth-c-brit-aust-nz/st-michaels-arch-nsw-avalon
Baranjuee, the south head at Broken Bay, is also the eastern head of Pittwater. It is a small peninsula of tall cliffs connected by an isthmus of low and tolerably fertile land with the hilly county which separates Pittwater from the sea. Pittwater is not unlike Port Jackson in its general features, and extends for about ten miles to the southward, branching off into a number of picturesque bays and coves. There are few habitations on the banks of this estuary, these few are situated near its head. Several small houses may be seen, which have been inhabited by men employed in the production of Lime but which have been abandoned in consequence of the supply of shells having become exhausted. Near the head there is s small island, which contains a number of fruit-bearing peach trees, the remains of former cultivation.
Under the headland of Baranjueo on its landward side, just at the entrance of Pittwater, is the Custom-house station. The site has been admirably chosen for this purpose. The heads around protect the station from tempestuous weather and furnish look-out posts for the officer and his men, from whence a view is commanded of all the surrounding land and water, that no vessel can pass in that vicinity without their seeing it. The station has a picturesque appearance from the water, and a closer approach does not, as in many instances, diminish its attractions.
Slade, George Penkivil. (January 16th, 1869). Barrenjuey [i.e. Barrenjoey], Broken Bay Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-139006957
A very good garden has been formed in the rear, but owing to the rocky nature of the soil, this must have been a work of great labour and perseverance. Fresh water however, is unfortunately rather scarce. It is obtained from the high rocky land above the station, and conveyed to the houses by meanz of troughs made of the cabbage-tree. At the present time, owing to the long continued drought, and to the great heat of the weather, there is no flow of water along the troughs during the day, but during the night sufficient water runs down to supply the station.Mr. Collyer, the gentleman who at present commands at this place, has acquired a well-merited popularity throughout the settlements around. In the performance of his duties he is indefatigable, and having succeeded in putting down the smuggling trade and other irregularities which went on formerly pursued to a great extent in this quarter, he has, of course, annoyed some of the inferior class of settlers, but his exertions are beneficial to the many, and to the coast traders he often renders most valuable assistance. A few weeks only have elapsed since a vessel was driven ashore near Mount Elliott, which would have become a total wreck but for the prompt and able assistance of Mr. Collyer and his men, by whom she was got off before she sustained any material injury. There are five men attached to the station. The coxswain, well-known among the settlers and the coasting traders by the familiar name of Larry, is a fine smart seaman, well acquainted with the surrounding waters. On the occasion just referred to he was particularly active.
At present there is but one regular trader to Pittwater, which is run by a Mr. Anderson, who lives two or three miles above the custom house station, on the western shore of the estuary. The only traffic, we believe, is in shells, the produce of the Pittwater settlers being conveyed overland to North Harbour, and from thence in boat to Sydney. To Brisbane Water and the Hawkesbury, however, there is an extensive bade is agricultural produce and timber.. The their trade has fallen off a good deal, in consequence of the very low price at present given for the shells by the Sydney lime-burners, but many of the smaller coasters are still engaged in it. About Pittwater there is no great deal to be done in the way of shooting or fishing, but Brisbane Water and the Hawkesbury present great attractions in this way. there is a singular blunder in this respect in Wells' Gazetteer. He speaks of Baranjuee as the residence of one or two old fishermen, who supply the Hawkesbury as far as it is navigable. Now, there is no one living at Baranjuee but the Custom-house officer and his crew, and as for marketable fish, they are in that vicinity rather scarce, owing to the shallowness of the water, and perhaps also to the immense number of sharks which traverse it. The number and voracity of these monsters is almost incredible. They will run into the shallowest water in search of prey, and to bathe even in water knee deep is therefore dangerous in the extreme. The Hawkesbury, on the contrary, abounds with fish of every description. It is here and on the north side of Broken Bay that the lobsters which are sent to Sydney are for the most part procured. They are taken generally during the night, and are kept in a sort of pen erected in shallow water, until an opportunity occurs of sending them to market. The most remarkable object in Broken Bay is a small .rocky island called Mount Elliott. The cliffs are a great height, and are the residence of an extensive colony of goats, the progeny of a few individuals which were placed there to feed in times gone by. There is no water here beyond what lodges in the hollows after rain, but the hairy settlers on the island find sufficient aqueous nourishment in the moistened herbage. The scenery both of Brisbane Water and of the Hawkesbury is beautifully picturesque. The latter is pre-eminently so. In the course of the hundred and twenty miles of navigable river between Broken Bay and the town of Windsor, there is every -variety of scenery. The overhanging rock, the man-grove swamp, the bank clothed with willow and casuarina, the grassy slope, the field of waving corn, and the cheerful orchard. Sometimes the river winds amidst groups of cottages and mansions; at others, its banks exhibit the most wild and romantic features. The Hawkesbury and its tributaries water an immense tract of country some of these tributaries are navigable to a considerable distance. The map of Cumberland attached to Wells' Gazetteer makes up, in its minute correctness as to the course of the Hawkesbury for the trifling blunder committed in the text as to the settlement and trade of Baranjuee, and may be depended upon as a guide by persons navigating these waters. Settlers at Brisbane Water occasionally walk to Sydney, but the journey is a toilsome one. By getting to the head of Pittwater, the distance is diminished to about twenty-two miles ; but the route is an awkward one for a person unaccustomed to bush travelling, there being no other guide than cart tracks, which are very apt to mislead, as there are routes to be avoided, both to the right hand and the left. Old bushmen will tell you that it is impossible to miss the road; but you will find it exceedingly possible to do so when you come to a spot where three or four tracks diverge in various directions. It is better, if possible, to have a companion who has crossed the country before. The journey is an interesting one. On the road there is some pretty scenery; and in several places there are splendid views of the ocean. Two lakes (or lagoons, as they are here called) are passed on the road; the largest of which, Narrabeen, is several square miles in extent, and has many small islands on its surface. It is for the most part shallow, and abounds with fish, which might be taken with the greatest ease, as a net could be hauled through any part of it. at present it is separated from the ocean by a barren sandy neck; but after floods this is covered, and the traveller is obliged to wade through the water for a considerable distance.
Between Pittwater and Middle Harbour there are several settlers residing at intervals of a few miles, who are very hospitable to passing travellers and will readily put them on their way. At Middle Harbour there is a ferry, kept by a person named Hillary. The place to which passengers are ordinarily taken is a point immediately opposite Hillary's residence; but any person who has walked from Pittwater will find it decidedly to his advantage to land gat the Willoughby Falls. For this purpose he will, for a few pence extra, be conveyed some two or three miles up of the most picturesque arms of Middle Harbour, and will save three or four miles of very bad road, From the falls there is an undeviating path, by which either of the steam ferries on the North Shore can be reached in half an hour by a smart walker.METEOROLOGY. (1850, January 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), , p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12915324
the road now leading us across a long level piece of country that intervened between the sea and the waters of Creel Bay, until it brought us down to the margin of the latter. Arrived here, we had before us as pretty a marine picture as ever painter sketched, and as directly opposite to the one we had but so recently left as could be well conceived. The flat level land had here narrowed to some sixty rods in width, being backed by a heavily wooded range, the base of which was here and there encumbered by large masses of rock, from which the incumbent soil had been washed, and which now protruded in huge boulders, or lay out bare and detached from their native beds. On the margin of the bay were three little whitewashed slab huts with bark roofs, the passionate squalling of an infant that proceeded from one of them would have given evidence of their being inhabited, even if we had not seen two or three barelegged and barefooted children peering at us round the corner of the house. (To be continued.) MY HOLIDAY. (1861, September 2). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13057913
Graham, H. J. (January 4th, 1885). Careening Creek, Broken Bay Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-135522526
This reports of people being on the water while living close to it as farmers, even when appearing solely due to losing their lives in the water, shows people were making a living out of fishing, to feed their families and to bring in income.
On the western shores, Mackeral, Little Mackeral, and into the Basin as well as Mc Carr's creek and along the shores of Lovett and Towlers, nets were placed for certain tides - the fishermen knew where the fish would run. There were also oyster leases adjacent to these shores from the turn of the 20th century and well into the first half of its decades.
Muster Records, required by the Governor's from 1795, list who was where in Pittwater and even their occupation although 'seaman' didn't always mean a yearly toil in fields. The Wilson family, third in a line of people subjected to the machinations of the Farrells of Newport, and the subsequent trial that took place, also record one fisherman living at the Basin-Bason by around 1862 and that this occupation was one they also did in combination with running farms and livestock. From the trail where the Wilsons had to take the farrells to court, they being third in a line of people persecuted by the Newport clan for daring to occupy the Mona vale farm after the Foleys and Therrys when the Farrells had previoulsy made use of the land and its grasses:
Fish are biting freely just now at Towler Bay, adjoining Kurangai Chaise. Parties should bear this place in mind, as the terms are very reasonable. Boats, bait and pilot are included in the first cost. It is necessary, however, that intending parties write to Mr. Lloyd, Pittwater, the proprietor, so as to enable him to hare a boat in waiting at Church Point. FISH OH! (1900, December 19). Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW : 1900 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article167250793
At the Hawkesbury River black bream are now in good condition. During the week about 28 baskets were caught by the net-men at Mackerel and Patonga Beaches. They are biting well off the rocks at Flint and Steel the lower portions of the main river, and Pittwater.
Blackfish are also in prime condition, and in quantities of good size. Many good catches have recently been made, with the rod. They are biting well off all the rocky shores, especially between Mud Island and the river entrance. FISHING NOTES. (1909, June 19).Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115497876
IT is hereby notified, for general information, that the undermentioned persons have applied to LEASE for OYSTER CULTURE the portions of land set opposite their respective, names. Tracings, showing the positions of the several portions enumerated, may be inspected at this Department dally (excepting Saturdays), between' 11 and 3 o'clock, and on Saturdays between 11 and 12 o'clock. Any person may, by memorial to the Board of Fisheries, within thirty days from the date of tills Notice, and on grounds to be stated in such memorial, pray that leases of the portions may not be granted, J.-A. BRODIE, Secretary,
PITTWATER. ALBERT EDWARD HEATON.-100 yards, Parish Narrabeen, on the southern side of Pittwater, about 100 yards easterly from the Government Wharf, fronting Ben Crew's portion No. 20 of 80 acres. Advertising. (1904, May 4). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14617398
WILLIAM SYKES 300 yards Parish Narrabeen, on an eastern shore of Pittwater, near the northern entrance to Crystal Bay, and fronting R Melville's portion No 10 of 60 acres
WILLIAM SYKES 200 yards Parish Narrabeen on an eastern shore of Pittwater, near the southern entrance to Crystal Bay at Haystack Point. Advertising. (1905, July 6). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved fromhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14708916
Pittwater - erection of a weatherboard cottage at Mona Vale Pittwater Plans at the office of Messrs. W P Martin and Company, 53 Young street, city, or Mr William Sykes, Newport. ADDITIONAL CONTRACTS. (1906, May 8). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14770112
Schnapperman's Flat was on the Pittwater side, where a large colony of Chinese carried on a fish-curing business, now given up. Whilst the waters are not guarded by a licence to fish, the oyster-beds are. These are let out on lease, and the pleasure-seeker may not knockoff an 'ostrea edulis,' as the learned call the simple little bivalve about which the old boatmen seem to know so much. 'When an oyster has a family,' says a caster of nets, 'she does not have one at a time, like the elephant, nor half-a-dozen, like a cat, but she sends forth hundreds of thousands of spawn, who swim off to find a place on which to squat, and put up their own humpy. For choice, it is just at sea level, so if one gathers the oysters near the high-water mark, more will at once take up the vacant allotment, and evolve a home out of lime for themselves. In summer, the oysters are no good, being watery, and full of spawn; but Mrs. Oyster, having opened her shell, and 'shoved' out a shoal of youngsters, who have, to mind themselves from the start, soon gets back into condition.' Winter, spring, and autumn are the oysterman's harvest times, when farm profits are not coming in, so the river cocky who takes on a 'lease' has a side industry to help him along. THE HAWKESBURY SETTLER. (1905, March 4). Evening News(Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article112745420
Until there were so many that: