Friday, June 29, 2012

A Poacher's Tale

I've tried several times to upload video of Old Salt telling me his poaching stories by a Pallinup fire. It won't work. There is a conspiracy against me I'm sure. Anyway, here is one transcript.

"So I went down there and it was a very quiet, no, no movement, a very quiet night. Just the shadows of the water and the hills and all that. Dark. Pitch dark and before daylight. I'd gone down so far by motor and then I'd rowed, standing up. And ahh, I'd had a net set by the Floodgates ..."

"Why did you row standing up?"

"Standing up, looking forward, yeah?"
"Oh yeah, okay."
"And um, standing up, and pushing on the oars making no noise whatever ..."
"Did you sharpen the blades of your oars?"
"Oh yeah, I did all that. It all was quiet, very quiet. I even had the rowlocks in bits of garden hose, you know, so they didn't make any noise. And I rowed down there on the eastern side of the inlet and I was right along the shore so nobody could see me. And when the Floodgates started going across, I just started going across.
And bugger me if -"

"- Were you setting net?"

"No, no Toa. I'd already set my net and been over it. I'd ... I'd just had this feeling about it all, yeah?"
"So instead of picking up the net and goin' home, I gone down the river a coupla hundred yards down and then across and bugger me if I didn't catch the Fisheries Department."

(At this point Old Salt started laughing and so did I.)
"They were hidin' out there and I caught 'em because-"
"You caught them!"
"I could hear all this scurrying and rustling and in the end they knew they was spotted so they gave up and they came out and said 'hello what are you doing out here' and I said, 'Ah well I was just comin' down to have a look at the sea, see if she was rough or not, you know'."

And they said, 'Right. Well. What do you know about that sunken net up river?'
I said, 'What net?'
'What do you know about that sunken net?'
I said, 'A sunken net. Well, I'd know nothin' about somping I can't fucken see, right?'
Anyway, by this time, there was two of them there and they said, 'Oh Well ...' One of the blokes he was named Roach, they called him Cocky of course and when I was talkin' to them I was having a shot at them and I said, 'I can hear the sea from here. I don't think I'll bother going down now.'

So they said, 'Anyhow, we'll go and pick that net up then.'
And I said, 'Well, right oh. I didn't see any net on my way down.' So they tried to start their motor and it wouldn't start. And they were tryin' and tryin' and tryin' and they never had any oars. So I said, 'Do yer wanna tow? I'll give yer a tow if yer like.' I was ready to give them a tow because I knew I'd lost my net by then.
They said something about it being the height of indignity or something like that.' "

(Me and Old Salt cracking up again).
"So did you? Did you tow them?"
"No, I was ready to. Eventually they got the thing started and away they went and away I went and that was that ..."


  1. And vale, Alan Saunders ...

  2. Glad to hear that this humiliation of the hated authorities still goes on down there - it used to be directed against the bloody English. In British marine law, if the Fisheries Department had accepted a tow off coast, then Old Salt would have been entitled - under salvage laws - to claim their vessel as his own once it was back in port.

  3. I'm sure Old Salt would appreciate all of your points here Tom. His family did come out as convicts after all. And he'd love nothing better than to requisition a fisheries boat for his own nefarious purposes.