Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Ode to the Humble Valencia

I'm not really impressed with Valencia oranges. Navels are my favourite. I love gazing at navels. However this is a story about a Valencia orange moment.

I was on a cross country mission from Albany to Byron Bay in a 1976 CF Bedford, with some of Grandma's money and an agenda to sort out a rather pressing family mystery. (We did sort it out too, thanks to a Welsh hippy in Mullumbimby, but that's another story.)

I drove from the South Australian/ Victorian border to Echuca in one character building, moonlit night, where jack rabbits launched themselves bravely into my roo bar and rice fields glowed like a scrabble board with gridded irrigation drains. I drove all night in a kind of wasted, exhaltant, post Nullabour daze to meet up with Our Sunshine and party with the heathens at ConFest.

It was the day of the Tsunami but we missed that.
For the next week we were out of mobile range, bereft of newspapers, television, alcohol or clothes. Well, not bereft of clothes, it was a matter of choice. My daughter observed that at this particular festival, "only folk between eight and eighteen actually wear anything."
It was hot and there were rules about cameras.

I cuddled my Our Sunshine at the gates. She showed us the beautiful camp she'd set up for us all and then we indulged ourselves in a whole week of not driving, of massages and yoga and life drawing and swimming in the river and dancing and chai tents and mud baths and body painting and heavenly music and perving on naked men we'd seen on TV before somewhere and weaving dream catchers.

On the sixth day the January heat settled into the dried out floodplain at 41 degrees. The chalkboard workshop itinerary announced that on this very day there would be a class called "FRUIT APPRECIATION."
Our Sunshine and I looked at each other. "Fruit," we said in unison. Iced watermelon. Grapes. Cherries. Apricots.

We signed up, or rather we thought we'd drift along, which is how workshop registration worked in these parts. The kids, by now having formed a tribe of opportunistic little ConFest ferals, (think 'Lord of the Flies' with the parents all being the 'littluns') decided it might be worthwhile to turn up as well.

We all sat in a circle, in the sun, at Midday, waiting for this class to start and greedily dreaming up our own orchestral platters of fruit. Kind of like the ones in those opulent paintings, or scenes from the era of Julius Cesear or Cleopatra.

He was late. One hour late. He finally walked into the centre of the circle, a bandy legged hippy with a feather in his hat, carrying a plastic shopping bag full of Valencia oranges.

I know the difference between Valencias and Navels on sight at fifty metres - even through a Woolies bag. I groaned to Our Sunshine, "I fucking HATE Valencias."

We were so hot. We were not allowed to sit in the shade. We all had to tell fruit stories. One man spent half an hour elaborating on his adventure as a fruitarian. It was a set up. The fruit guy was eyeing off the topless guitar siren and trying to concentrate on his lines. The orphan brood that had attached themselves to me in the morning were dissolving into heatstroke cases and all trying to sit on my lap.

Finally we had a Valencia placed in front of us with great care and reverence and for ten minutes we were allowed to look at this orange. Then we were allowed to pick it up but NOT SNIFF IT.

You can see where this is going. This is the bit where the oppressed becomes the oppressor, where Amin and Mugabe go psychotic, after all that power for the people stuff. This is the bit where the hippy with a feather in his hat starts calling himself Milgram and quotes from 'The Perils of Obedience'.
That's what I was thinking anyway and I muttered as much to Our Sunshine.

But when we actually got to taste that Valencia!! Oh My! When we bit a hole into her leathery hide and sucked her dry, ate her whole, ate her from inside out! Oh My! Oh!

I got it. I got it the next day, when we cranked up the Bedford with jumper leads and drove out of the ConFest flood forest and halfway along the winding track back to civilisation, we saw an ode to the Valencia - an orange standing atop the rotting plinth of a stump - a single citrus fist in the air to the joys of a Valencia on a Mad Dog Day.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Archival Songsters of Pelagia

You can be driving around aimlessly on a Sunday, looking for something to look at. As you do the curve on Marine Drive there are a bunch of people standing together, a large bunch. This is obviously no evangelising soap box sermon, even though this town has been demonised before as a festering haven of God Botherers.

When you pull up to find out what all the fuss is about, you see the strangest combination of citizens. The hard nosed real estate salesman is holding hands with the Nyungar elder. Night nurses yawn and rub their care worn paws against the Health minister's brand new Chanel suited back. A couple of teenage girls actually smile at their mothers and the mothers actually smile in return, before looking back out to sea.

Alright, I'm making most of that last bit up. But I'm quite sure this scene has happened once or twice on the wild shores of the South West.

Whales do these things to people.

When whales appear, rolling off their barnacles on the white sands of Middleton Beach and parading their babies, people who would normally stride past each other, avoiding eye contact on their power walks, actually begin to commune. They lend each other binoculars and stand close enough to feel the warmth coming off each other's bodies. Everybody and each individual within a few hundred metres knows in their water that the whales are here to visit us.

Old Salt came back from a cruise out into the Sound, all misty eyed and converted. "It was just great," he told me. "They swam straight under the tinny and all around us. We could have touched them." This old whaler said it was the closest he'd ever been to a whale, "in Peacetime."

Native American tradition says that whales are the record keepers of the earth. I like this idea. Those pelagic archivists, closer to us in structure than their fellow fish, are said to have witnessed times when the earth went through catastrophic change - more catastrophic than Bush and Howard both being elected a second time. This was really bad. The oceans of the world rose and their Motherland - Mu - sank beneath the waters.

I think when we see them, we intuit them as our record keepers. They remember where we came from.

With a memory like that, no wonder the locals are aghast, in love, blown away and humbled by these leviathans gracing us with their presence. It was only thirty years ago (this week) that the last whale was harpooned in Albany waters.

Photograph courtesy Dr. Louis M. Herman/NOAA

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Droog extra? Fisherwoman?

It's pouring with rain. York street is a river and the concrete stairs on Stirling Terrace are efficiently washed straight into the Tourist Bureau car park by the deluge. This is very cool, coming from a woman who gets excited about the weather. I saw a matronly patron dance in the river outside HangleFeds at midnight. The taxi drivers watch her, muddy water swirling around their axles.

There is thunder and lightning, there are French refugees fresh from Esperance, huddled in a leaky van in York street, as the Southern Spring hammers down five inches overnight.

(Yesterday, in some cafe with Shark, we spy a generic white van with the 'Backpacker' insignia. "What is with this?" I say to Shark. "They are not backpackers. They are driving a mini van." "Yes," he mutters sagely. "They are one step away from the Winnebago.")

I'm not sure what this is all supposed to be about. Well, a few ideas. a) The Weather. d) Becoming a fisherwoman. c) Drinking butterscotch schnapps on a day that is looking increasingly unpromising except for a great musicians party looming this eve. d) All of the above.

All of you uni buffs know that in multiple choice questions, if you are well and truly stumped for an answer and you are sweating under the steely gaze of the INVIGILATOR, it is statistically most likely to be c). BUT, if the answer d) 'all of the above' should rear its ugly head BEWARE, think about your mother and what she would do - and if that doesn't work, just put a big fat cross on d) anyway.

I just rang Old Salt. "This is nuts. Do we have to go out?" As I keep reminding people, I am a fair weather fisherwoman. (Why does Microsoft object to 'fisherwoman' and not 'fisherman'? It is pretty sexist really, for a mindless interface.)

When I talked to the snow capped Birthday Boy at Cosi's this morning, he said, "I hear all these people who have bosses and are so unhappy in their work. I've always worked for myself, it's the only way to go." He mentioned that one of his jobs was as a Droog extra on Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange'.

We all stared at him. He's a DROOG? Fuck!
He said, "You know that scene when he rapes that woman in the snow? I was one of the droogs, in a top hat and clapping as he did his bit."

It's a less than safe life being a Droog extra, a roadie or a fisherwoman. You have to hustle for cash and get off your own arse to find it. I discovered this in the gardening round part of my life. It's not so difficult really, if you know what you are doing.

I realised, this week I think, that fishing has become my primary income and that I have officially become a fisherwoman (through CentreLink, bless them), instead of someone who just goes fishing.

Old Salt is saying, "Why don't you get some bins in your own name?" His point being that if separate fishers present their wares to the markets in Perth, the price is best with their first bin in auction and degenerates from there. So if we have two names, we make more money per bin. That's his logic. Mine is, I just like the idea of sending bins to Perth with my own name on them.

There are other reasons why I like the idea so much. One is the Hemingwayesque angle, the fishing and writing thing, that beautiful interplay of words marrying the cerebral and the physical. (Forgive me, I'm reading Hemingway at the moment.)

Writing about my other jobs as courier driver or kitchen hand don't conjure up the same kind of sexy. Henry Miller would probably disagree, with his treatise on his job at the Cosmo Coxcic Telegraph Company, probably translated as 'The Asshole of the World Telegraph Company', a celebration of the mundane within the relative exotica of Paris.

Myself, I find it hard to wax lyrical about consignment notes or the amount of marron I've boiled alive in one afternoon. When you get out on the WineDark sea at night and hear whales that you cannot see, except for their phosphorescent meanderings, and listen to Old Salt's poaching tales and experience those biblical occasions like The Night of the Flathead, when the boat is threatening to sink at midnight under the freakish amount of fish you've caught - that is a writer's paradise.

Still today, the pot belly is cranking and there's lightning all around and a bottle beside me and Old Salt wants to go fishing. My wet weather gear is, well, WET. It's only gonna get wetter. We haven't made much money this week and yet, to look outside makes me feel quite flaky. I'm just not that tough. In fact I'm feeling decidedly girly in the best sense of the word. I have the red dress hanging by the pot belly drying out and am trying to work out just which pair of high heels I'm going to wear to this party.

Old Salt rings again. "The weather's easing up. Let's go and catch some King George Whiting."
"Is it really?" This is me, who lives looking out to the South where all the weather comes from. Dammit. I like this fire. I like my red dress and its potential, (another theory, wait for it). Dammit.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rotting Thorbryn

Yes, she's been up before, this post.
Yes, I'm a bit lazy and
Yes, I like this story enough to drag her back up to the front!

She was born of the detritus of World War II. Dismantled tanks, trucks, railway track were melted down into billets and blooms, beaten out into panels and riveted together to create a new monster.
She was an apocalyptic, piratical vision for the protesters of 1977, men and women who lurked in Zodiacs behind Michaelmas Island in the predawn gloaming. They saw the whalechaser steam past, her high Antarctic prow bristling with the barbed spine of a cannon, and Johnny Lewis said to his partner in the fight against whaling, "I don't care if I have to swim 30 miles back from the Shelf. There's no way I'm ever gonna get on that ship." *

In the 1860's, Svend Foyn, 'model puritan capitalist' citizen of T√łnsberg and nearing retirement, designed an innovative ship that revolutionised the whaling industry. The slower, more bouyant Bow whales were now becoming scarce in Arctic waters. The ‘Captain Ahab’ style hunts - stalking whales in wooden whale boats, with hand held harpoons and the mother ship under sail nearby - were unsuccessful with the quicker whales and those who uncooperatively sank to the bottom upon killing.

Foyn wanted faster, steam powered chasers that were quick enough to chase down those open ocean cetaceans that had so far escaped the eye of the gunner. He invented a cannon fired harpoon with an explosive head and winches for playing and hauling in the kill. For his troubles he was granted a ten year monopoly by the Norwegian government.

"Revolutionising the industry' is always a graveyard epitaph when hunting animals, certainly it was dark days for the whales. Within thirty years, the whale population in the Finmark region was decimated. Thus the Antarctic epoch began in earnest.

The Norwegians commissioned Thorbryn and her sister ship Thorgrim to be built by the English. With the fleet of chasers and a factory ship, they worked the Antarctic grounds every season for fifteen years, travelling from the northern hemisphere to the white south and back again.

Thorbryn ended up here in Albany in 1963, purchased by the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company and renamed Cheynes 2. Theirs was a daily hunt, rather than the months at sea. They chased down and harpooned the toothed sperm whales that cruised the deep waters off the Continental Shelf.

The men were hard, pragmatic, multicultural (in a white kind of way). They were top of their game - well disciplined, high status, fat wallets.
It all fell to bits not long after soldiers came back from Vietnam and sometimes I think they must have felt the same way, redundant from the jobs they were most respected for and being derided for doing it in the first place. World opinion had turned against them. It's just the way it is.

Cheynes 2 had a stint as a star exhibit at Hobart's Maritime Museum until maintenance became an issue. She was 'requisitioned' on a scientific expedition to Heard Island that was beset with drama, documented in the movie The Ship That Shouldn't Have. She returned to Albany under sail.
She became the Boy's Own wet dream for several entrepreneurs who just wanted to save her - and rightly so. Who wouldn't want to own a decrepit Norwegian whale chaser?

The stairway you can see is where I first met Bob. He was the 'strange long haired man playing guitar'. This is the stage when Cheynes 2 was to be converted into a floating restaurant in time for the America's Cup and went spectacularly broke instead. Bank repossessions followed.

Then one day, when everybody seemed to have thrown up their hands about the Cheynes 2 - tethered to the deep water jetty in a shameless state magnificent dilapidation, complete with the grand velvet booths and a stainless galley restaurant kitchen, a four poster velvet and jarrah bed in the wheelhouse and the rivets rusting off her sides - she broke her moorings in a wild storm and landed on the rocks.

After that, her destiny was ordered by the harbour master of the time. She was towed straight across a major shipping lane and laid on the sand bar at Quaranup where she still is today. Thousands of pigeons call her home. The engine room is full of water. You have to be careful not to step on eggs and chicks, or to put your foot through her crumbling decks. One day she will fold in on herself and dissolve into the sea.

*This quote paraphrased from Chris Pash's book 'The Last Whale.' I'd give you the page number but I've lent the book to Old Salt!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Diary Liability

I've kept diaries for twenty years. At some stage I tried to call them journals and coveted Bruce Chatwin's manly buckram covered, grid paper journals, complete with the elastic strap. However when I actually saw them in a book shop in Dunedin, sold as the 'real thing' by some enterprising publisher, I found them too small, too gridded and altogether too wanky. Am I gonna garner that man's roaming storytelling genius by buying the same journal as he wrote in? No.

This post is really about self censorship, the problematic exercise of diary keeping and its modern day equivalent - blog casting. Many of us who blog may never have been so secretive and precious as to keep a diary. The whole thing is an antithesis, instantaneous publication versus the furtive habits of the angst ridden, purging diarist - but then again many of us are animals of the same species. There is fire in our bellies. We have something to say. We wanna write it down.

'Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.'
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

Shark wrote once that it is in poor taste to slag off one's ex on one's blog. I don't think I've stooped to that yet but I'm about to now.
The first one (there are a few) I won't stoop to slagging because I still like him, yummy, difficult piscine creature that he is. In a moment of masochistic self immolation I said to him, "Well you really want to know what I write down? Go for it! Take three." I gave him three diaries and sent him away. He returned a few days later, kind of twitchy and pale, saying, "I want more." So I gave him another three.

He returned with them, wanted more and so it went on. Then for the next six months I fed him various lines, defending the motivation behind my innermost, nastiest little outpourings. And some of these moments were sordid. Poor guy, he was flabbergasted.I was writing myself out, trying to wrangle out the bullshit from the maneuvers I'd made that were totally beyond my own understanding. Why did I do these things? I didn't really know until I'd worked it out in print. Then I knew and then I evolved. Unfortunately those who read them were on the page where I hadn't, and did not understand that I was no longer the same person.

I don't actually regret that one, even though I got chastised by a bestie, "Why the fuck did you do that? You NEVER, EVER give your diaries to a boyfriend. You are asking for trouble, you self flagellating great genius bitch." Or something along those lines.

The next one was not my doing. In the throes of engagement and the lushy, gorgeous moments that gave him license to be totally exploratory in his loved one's life, I returned home from work, to find my fiance sitting in a circle of my journals on the bedroom floor and breathing strangely.
"It was under your bed," he wailed. "In a suitcase. How could I not possibly read every single one?" He splayed his fat sausage fingers over my written words. "How can I even like who you are, when you've written all this ..."
This was a big problem for him. A girlfriend, no - a fiance - who actually thinks and writes all her feelings and mistakes down on paper. After several hours of protracted arguments during which time he decided he no longer wanted to marry me, I decided the diaries were an unnecessary ball and chain I was dragging.

So I burnt them. Fifteen years worth. That night, with a bottle of lighter fuel and copious tears, I set fire to locks of my babys' hair, favourite recipies, memoirs of the elders and teenage angst. It was an act of bloodymindedness taken to that extreme, purely because I knew I could not keep this man and my diaries in the same house. I made the choice.

In retrospect it was not a good one really. Days later I went to visit him and there were charred paper remains in his fireplace. It took me a little while to cotton on. I got a strange chill when he read me his handwritten list of people (men of course) I should have known.

He'd salvaged my books out of the fire, while I was busy in tears, taken them home and read the rest. He even made a few names up, just to fuck with my head. I found the rest of the burnt charred offerings, took them out to the rubbish truck as it chugged to a stop outside his house and threw them in. By then I was so completely over the drama that years worth of diaries created, I was glad to see them go.
I saved one. It is wrapped in silk and has the status of a religious relic; Notes That Survived the Fire.
Aussie said to me recently, after a few hours of walking in the wild sandhills, "I am so pissed off at you for burning those diaries." And I said. "So am I."

It took me a long time after that to learn to write without feeling someone was looking over my shoulder. I didn't feel like I could tell the truth anymore. Everything I wrote (if I wrote at all) was in abstract or codified within an inch of its life.

And that's where blogging comes in. This is different, not quite so angsty and if you want to purge or bitch or whinge, you have to be a little bit careful and consciously so. Strange. It is open to the Ether so we are all the more careful of what we produce. Rather than an inward process, it moves outwards of our minds and is written to be read by others.

But it must still ring true and resonate a certain chord within the soul or else it just doesn't work. It must come from the heart and not be some kind of trite and pretty observation. And thats where all writing threads back to the diary, to cannibalise and poach its labyrinthine reaches. But how do we tell those opportunistic and nasty little print stalkers to stay out of our suitcases and not judge us harshly or get horribly jealous over our sensuous and dastardly outpourings?
Oh...okay. Make better choices. Yeah okay. I'm evolving hopefully...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Graves in the Paperbarks

"Green sap of Spring in the young wood a-stir
Will celebrate the Mountain Mother
And every song-bird shout awhile for her;
But I am gifted, even in November
Rawest of seasons, with so huge a sense
Of her nakedly worn magnificence
I forget cruelty and past betrayal,
Careless of where the next bright bolt may fall."

Yesterday I dropped in a garage sale, whilst trekking out to see a lawnmower friend. I intended to ask him to tame this mass of weeds that has sprouted with all the nitrogen rich lightening rain and sun over the last week.
I walked out with three electric whipper snippers for ten dollars! Two of them work, which is still a bargain. But the real find was the garage sale lady's magpie intuition when it came to collecting books. All religions, Authurian tradition, architecture, nature, academic disciplines, fiction, rune stones, tarot decks, bird watching bibles - everything!
Finally, there was a modest edition of Robert Graves' The White Goddess. And it is Spring, and it is Beltane (as Tim reminded me on Saturday) and the Goddess is out and about. Sometimes the arrival of spring feels like that moment of ovulation or conception; a split second where it all begins and you just feel it. Something shifts. What a time to indulge in Graves, who is unapologetic to the ignorant, the compromised and the ordinary.

"If you are poets, you will realise that acceptance of my historical thesis commits you to a confession of disloyalty which you will be loath to make; you chose your jobs because they promised to provide you with a steady income and leisure to render the Goddess, whom you adore, valuable part time service. Who am I, you will ask, to warn you that she demands either whole time service or none at all?"
Spoken like a true hippy methinks.

Out at the estuary, we are having a bored day, that time that elastic bands apart between picking up nets at dawn and setting them again at dusk. I am tiring of squeezing fish spines out of my already infected hands. I decide to try again, to find my way through the paperbark swamp to the spongolite cliffs that glow so enigmatically ochre in the afternoon light.

I wandered along a trail through vertical dense stands of flat topped yates where there is no undergrowth, only the grey, green black leaves and ribbons of bark. This country ends abruptly as the track snakes down into the valley. Huge grasses like a native pampas, flowering grasses, the dianella I used to sell at the nursery, the latest 'mass planting' craze, little blue star flowers crowning elegant rush foliage, clumped together under whispery sheoaks.

Then down further, to the paperbark forest. White creamy trees with strips of the soft coating torn off and hanging like antipodean prayer flags. An emerald green carpet of pig face scattered with fuschia-tinted daisy flowers. It is vivid and startling after the grey, green of the eucalypts only minutes before. The change is instant - a wardrobe into Narnia kind of experience.

If it weren't for the masses of mosquitos and silent presence of tiger snakes, I would strip naked and dance like the ageing wood sprite I am, terrified and hopeful in the same moment that a dark-eyed and bloodshot Satyr would stalk me through this creamy forest and ... sorry, maybe that's just the way my mind works.
I couldn't stand still, let alone get naked. I had a romantic notion of settling down into the pigface, against the sturdy velvet of a paperbark tree to write some nature down - and did so, only to be set upon by whining, flying critters thirsty for my blood.
Then there was the tiger snake issue, getting the heebie jeebies after Old Salt's warnings of the paperbark swamp, complete with outstretched arms and expert witness testimony.
Storms have ripped through here and knocked the crowns off the tallest trees, so that the ground is strewn with rotting logs and the sky is sliced by silent sentinels of headless trees.
I know that in that quiet cavern of green and white and magenta, where the only sound is the distant thump of surf outside the bar and the alarm calls of wattle birds, something stirs, something Robert Graves, even with his European sensibilities would understand, whereas I can only feel it in my water ...

Water water ...

I wanna be a fishergirl

This time on my way to the estuary I drove out alone, at night, with a brand new windscreen that I could actually see through - until fuses started blowing and the lights stopped being nice. After that it was the sliver of moon, some white line hallucinations and possibly the warm radiations from Venus that got me there.

I coasted down into the hollowed out basin, a geological anomaly of rainbow layers of Plantagenet siltstone (spongolite rock) washed away by watery millennia, to the drumming music of rain and shot tie rod ends. Old Salt had lit a little bonfire in anticipation. A good thing for a tired soul is a fire spitting with raindrops and a decent cup of tea.

"You've obviously been eating a lot of carrots," was all he said in respect to my dark arrival. Old Salt had already set nets for the night, out in the middle of the barred estuary. It was my job to help him pick up at dawn.

The lightning storms and glassed off water of the previous week were replaced by howling easterlies, constant rain and other rhetoric. It's the kind of misty rain where for an hour or so, I think I am waterproof, until the moment of realisation that I'm absolutely soaked through - a bit like drinking really.

The pre dawn alarm clock jangled some ditzy electronic muzak and I crawled out of my tent to meet the gloaming. The tinny was talking, a metallic splash against her sides with every little breath of water.

We pulled up a lot of mullet that morning. Old Salt reckons it's the wind on the water aerating the sea. This estuary has the highest level of nutrients out of all the south coast estruaries sampled in 1988 and at the time it was attributed to the spreading of good ol' super phosphate on surrounding farmland. (Estuaries and Lagoons of South Western Australia, Number 4, E.P.A, 1988). I'm not sure whether this increases deoxygenation or not.

I just think we are a little bit blessed.
"Mullet!" Comes my refrain when these fat, gleaming, perfect fish splash to the surface. I begin to sound like the energiser bunny's victim an hour later when we are still pulling in mullet. They hit the nets hard too and then roll in them, so they can be a job to get out. "What's wrong? Your battery run out?" Old Salt said. "Oh mullet!" He mimics me. "Look another mullet! Yay! Oh Joy! I just want to know where the fucking bream are, they fetch eight bucks a kilo."

The water is muddy from constant turbulence and silt. Pale stretch marks lace her reaches. Water slopped over the stern. I hate that, it makes me very unsteady on my pins. In the end it was getting so windy and the fish so prolific, we hauled the rest of the nets in and unmeshed on shore. The wake water churned golden olive, boiling behind the boat.

Old Salt started telling me poaching stories while we wrestled mullet out of the mesh and iced them up in bins.
"Pullet, Axel and Nails decided they were gonna shoot the mouth of the ---- inlet. They were all at the pub skyting all about it and then off they went, close to midnight. Pullet told me, 'No one knew who I was coz I wore a balaclava!'"
This cracked me up. Anyone who has ever laid eyes on Pullet knows it is not his face that is instantly recognisable but his enormous girth.

He told me another story about his father, an old school poacher of legend. The fisheries inspector in those days rode a bicycle, with the intention of a silent arrival to witness nocturnal fishing crimes. He rode that bicycle twenty kilometres one night to catch out Old Salt Snr and waded out through the mud of the inlet, the old fisherman watching from the shore, to pull up a whole corkline. No net, just a corkline.
It is in one of the same fishing inspector's annual reports, available from archives in Perth, that the enmity between the two is in print forever.
" - - - came in to pay his fishing license today and threw five shillings on the counter. He said nothing and nor did I."

Some days, mornings like this, I feel very lucky to be witnessing the tail end of these briny dynasties first hand and listening to their stories. After unmeshing, I drove the 150 kilometres back into town and put some bins full of iced down bream and mullet on the truck for Perth. "It's great," I told my Dad. "You get to see all the empty bins of the other fishermen and check out how much they are catching."
He laughed. "You are sounding just like the rest of that bloody mob!"