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.


Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.