NORTH STRADBROKE FISHING MEMOIR (1969)

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\(top)\**The freshly speared, recently lost black marlin**
\(below)\**Game fishing boat \Mercury\ hooked up with black marlin**

We’d just arrived at the small bunch of rocks off Point Lookout (North Stradbroke Island, Queensland) where the water is quite deep.

A visiting game fishing boat was hooked up with a small black marlin. The fish made a few jumps then the line broke.

**Trevor Collins** slipped over the side of our boat with a \SeaRocket\ gas gun and secured the fish. From memory it weighed 78 pounds and was purchased by a local restaurant.

The reconstructed spear fishing scene was included in my first documentary \Aquarius – People and Wildlife of the Sea\ (1970).

It was meritorious as one of the first, or the first black marlin speared in Australia – under unusual circumstances which kept it out of the record book.

The boat’s name **Mercury** is visible on an enlarged version. I asked **Peter Bristow** via email if he might know who owned the boat.

Peter is a former Point Lookout- based fisherman. From about 1970 he pioneered big game fishing in Australia at Cairns, North Queensland, and subsequently helped put that northern sleepy town on the international must-see tourist map of the world.

Here is Bristow’s reply from the island of Madeira where he now lives:

My God yes. The owner and driving the boat is Steve Murphy. He was a close friend of Bob Dyer. The guy on the rod is his son Rick and standing next to him is his son-in- law, Jack. They were all close friends of mine. Steve was chief engineer at Bulimba Brewery in Brisbane and a constant source of free beer!! From memory, that(incident) took place somewhere near Boat Rock off Point Lookout–Correct?

It would have been mid to late 60’s ??? The boat was built by Clem Masters at Cabbage Tree Creek, Shorncliffe, Brisbane. It originally had Mercury outboards; hence the name. It was 30 feet long. He then replaced them with inboard-outboard drives. I was a regular crew on it when I lived in Brisbane and even went to the launching.

Thanks for the Memory.

CAPE MORETON & Flinders Reef, Queensland Australia

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**Cape Moreton lighthouse** – A view south

(Composite picture) – Flinders Reef \(below)\ a few K’s north of the Cape

As young guys we’d have a diving and spear fishing holiday at North Stradbroke Island whenever possible. It was the first place where local professional fishermen were actually friendly toward guys in wet suits.

We’d learned to live with the mild hate coming from everywhere else. Fishermen and divers were not a good mix years ago.

Things changed at the village of Point Lookout when we told the fishermen we’d just sighted a big school of Spanish Mackerel at Flinders Reef, about 50km EACH WAY and north of Cape Moreton.

In fact we made friends for life that day. Years later the fishermen (Bill Lawler, Les Nash and Ken Cashin, Peter Bristow) could remember exactly how many of the big fish they caught at Flinders, thanks to our accidental good advice.

From that day on, we were welcome visitors forever. Our diving gear could be left on the beach, in our boat overnight. We take cameras out and leave the rest. No thieves on the island. It did not stay that way forever.

Use GoogleEarth for a look at this part of Australia. (Flinders Reef does not always show).

We’d launch our small boats with single 40 horse power outboards and travel 50 km north to Cape Moreton and then Flinders Reef further north.

Flinders was, in those days, probably the best spot on the southern Queensland coast for constantly clear waters, big pelagic fish and a few potentially dangerous very large sharks. The magic ingredients. Coral on the north side of the reef, seaweed representing southern waters on the south. An unusual mix.

Early (1961) spear fishermen found heaps of large Black Cod. These did not last very long. Today a protected species as is the giant Queensland Groper.

Point Lookout (Boat launch beach):   27 25 35 46 S – 153 31 41 64 E

Flinders Reef (Approximate):  26 29 24 00 S – 153 29 24 00 E