March 14th – Tight lines

Morning catch

You will find them on public wharves and jetty’s all over town, day or night. The recreational fishermen.

This photo was taken on the northern point of what is now known as Darling Island, a reclaimed piece of land just west of Cockle Bay and Darling Harbour.

When the first settlers arrived it was initially known as Cockle Island, a small inhospitable rocky outcrop beside Cockle Bay and Darling Harbour. It was given it’s name due to an apparent abundance of shellfish in the area.

The island was sold to the Australian Steam Navigation Company in 1855, who enlisted the services of Robert Saunders to level the island and quarry the sandstone. The areas of Pyrmont and Ultimo provided high quality stone for stonemasons and artists use for many years.

By the late 19th Century Darling Island was further transformed, operating as a wharf for cargo, and a passenger terminal as European immigration increased during the 20th Century, right up until the 1990’s when large ship services were wrapped up in favour of commercial use – specifically the temporary site of the Star City casino, before a final transformation into the residential and commercial landscape it is today.

Back to these intrepid fishermen. They redouble their chances by having several lines the water. Thankfully I can’t recall any of them bagging anything while I’ve been around.

I say “thankfully” because of this advice from Department of Primary Industries suggesting not to eat anything caught west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is due to industrial activity in Homebush Bay, which for many leaked contaminants into the Parramatta River affecting the soil, and subsequently entered the food chain.

I don’t believe the early settlers had any concerns with dioxins in the shellfish in the late 18th Century.


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