BOOK REVIEW | Fishing for the Past – Casting nets and lines into Australia’s early colonial history

By Julian Pepperell

Better known as a marine biologist and angling writer, the author, perhaps surprisingly, turns out to be something of an historian. Here he has done a good job of “trawling”, for want of a better word, through the reports of Australia’s explorers and early settlers for references to fishing.

He has been diligent, as a good scientist should, and has recovered a bumper “catch” of particularly interesting references. They form the basis of a very useful and enjoyable history of fishing in Australian waters.

Although, probably for the benefit of the general reader, the author seems to be overly focused on sharks, he gives a good overview of most of the better-known Australian fish species. He covers a lot of ground, both geographically and chronologically from pre-European days to the present. He describes, through contemporary reports, aboriginal fishing activity and techniques and looks at subsistence and commercial fishing and angling.

A fine and well-illustrated study of an important but, hitherto, sadly neglected subject.

Available from Rosenberg Publishing, Dural, Australia.


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