Pescetarian Platter

Our pescetarian platter is full of oysters, fish and stories of those who once brought us the catch of the day

Fishing our oceans and rivers was and remains a pastime for locals and visitors alike. Commercial fishing fleets were located at most of our major coastal towns and some small fleets still operate today. Oyster farming is also one of the oldest industries in the region.

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Click to view Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can

These two stainless steel harpoons were used by Laurieton offshore commercial trap fisherman Bill Poole from the 1960s to the 1980s. Harpoons, such as these, were mounted on timber shafts and thrown from the bow or sides of a fishing…

Click to view Anyone for Oysters

Anyone for Oysters

The success and the growth of the oyster industry in the Port Macquarie region is largely due to the early experimental work and practices pioneered and continued by members of the Dick and McLaren families over the past 100 years….

Click to view The Oyster Industry

The Oyster Industry

This certified document shows the transfer of the Lease for Oyster Farm 54.170 on the Hastings River, from Henry James Netherclift to Selby Edmunds on December 7 1955 and that the term of the Lease was for 15 years. Scale…

Click to view Treasures of the Sea

Treasures of the Sea

The 10 seashells in this collection were retrieved from the floor of the Pacific Ocean adjacent to Port Macquarie by Cec. Radley, a local commercial fisherman.  They were retrieved in nets or baskets when he was trawling for prawns, lobsters…

Click to view A Model Boat

A Model Boat

This unnamed model boat, made by timber worker, Arthur Law (1900-1979), was once believed to be a replica of the Septom, an offshore fishing trawler which was built at the Hibbard boatyard in Port Macquarie during the 1940s by shipwright…

Catch Me If You Can

Catch Me If You Can

Circa 1960 / Learn more on Ehive
Usually none of the harpooned bait made it to shore as it was used immediately in the fish traps

These two stainless steel harpoons were used by Laurieton offshore commercial trap fisherman Bill Poole from the 1960s to the 1980s. Harpoons, such as these, were mounted on timber shafts and thrown from the bow or sides of a fishing boat. Ropes were attached between the timber shafts and the shafts on the harpoons so that the harpoons and their ‘catch’ could be readily retrieved.

The harpoons were used to catch large fish and mammals, such as sharks and dolphins, which were then cut into bait and placed into the traps. Large aquatic animals were only used for bait when smaller species such as mullet and salmon were not available, and only enough bait was caught for immediate use, as the local fishing industry at that time had no facilities for long term cold storage.  Usually none of the harpooned bait made it to shore as it was used immediately in the fish traps.

Fish traps were made from timber slats and chicken wire and trap fishermen along the Mid North Coast of New South Wales targeted snapper, bream, kingfish, leatherjackets, blue swimmer crabs and lobster on a seasonal rotation basis. The fishing fleet from Laurieton worked out to the 100 metre depth line, which is about 12 nautical miles offshore.

Anyone for Oysters

Anyone for Oysters

Circa 1944 / Learn more on Ehive
As the industry grew the State Government appointed local fishing inspectors to mark out and record the placement and dimensions of each oyster farm

The success and the growth of the oyster industry in the Port Macquarie region is largely due to the early experimental work and practices pioneered and continued by members of the Dick and McLaren families over the past 100 years.

This timber sign was once used to identify Oyster Farm, Lease No. 44150, owned by Hastings Dick McLaren [1889-1980] a Port Macquarie native and successful oyster farmer for more than 60 years. Hastings was the son of Daniel McLaren and Lizzie Dick, and grandson of John Stuart Dick who is regarded as establishing the first farms for the commercial cultivation of oysters in Port Macquarie during the late 1880s. As the industry grew the State Government appointed local fishing inspectors to mark out and record the placement and dimensions of each oyster farm, and to keep a register of oyster lease owners in order to protect against over-fishing and the depletion of the natural oyster beds.

When the placement of the leases had been accurately determined, oyster farmers were required to display their lease number prominently along the outer limits of the farm boundaries.  Hastings McLaren acquired Lease No. 44150, which was located offshore in Limeburners Creek, a tributary of the Hastings River, in June 1944. Timber markers have since been replaced by metal markers which are required to be placed on each corner of all oyster farms.

The Oyster Industry

The Oyster Industry

Circa 1955 / Learn more on Ehive
Aborigines in the Hastings area feasted on oysters for many hundreds of years and numerous shell middens were observed along the waterways when the first Europeans settled here in the early 1800s

This certified document shows the transfer of the Lease for Oyster Farm 54.170 on the Hastings River, from Henry James Netherclift to Selby Edmunds on December 7 1955 and that the term of the Lease was for 15 years. Scale diagrams are included on the Lease document showing the dimensions of the Oyster Farm No. 54.170, and its location on the north western side of Herbert’s Island in Limeburners Creek, a tributary of the Hastings River.

Mr Selby was born in Port Macquarie in 1912 and worked as an oyster farmer along the Hastings River and in Limeburners Creek for over 60 years, owning many leases during this period.  Selby’s father, Henry, was also an oysterman and a contemporary of John Suart Dick who was the first successful oyster farmer on the Hastings.  However the cultivation of oysters is far from a recent innovation.  Aborigines in the Hastings area feasted on oysters for many hundreds of years and numerous shell middens were observed along the waterways when the first Europeans settled here in the early 1800s.

The NSW Fisheries Act was introduced in 1902 and from then onwards applications for leases had to be submitted to, and registered by the Department of Fisheries, and Fishing Inspectors were introduced to check on the size and location of leases in order to prevent over-fishing and the depletion of natural oyster beds.

Over the years, the Hastings River has become the largest oyster seed producing estuary in New South Wales and the fifth largest producer of oysters for human consumption in the State.   There are currently 28 registered growers on the River and approximately 6.6 million oysters are harvested for consumption each year.

Treasures of the Sea

Treasures of the Sea

Circa 1950 / Learn more on Ehive
They are often referred to as the aristocrats of the sea because of their beautiful colours and striking patterns.

The 10 seashells in this collection were retrieved from the floor of the Pacific Ocean adjacent to Port Macquarie by Cec. Radley, a local commercial fisherman.  They were retrieved in nets or baskets when he was trawling for prawns, lobsters and fish in ocean waters during the 1950s.  They are all in perfect condition and were found at depths varying from 100 metres to 250 metres.

Eight of the shells are Volutes which are members of the Volutidae family of which there are some 200 species.  They are considered to be rare to very rare, and are some of the most expensive shells in the world.  They are often referred to as the aristocrats of the sea because of their beautiful colours and striking patterns.  On the other hand, the smallest shell in the collection, the Tun shell from the Tonnidae family, is one of only 20 species worldwide and considered to be very rare and very valuable.

Cec.Radley comes from a long established Port Macquarie family.  His father and five brothers owned three fishing trawlers, the XLCR, the SEPTOM and the TRADEWINDS and they all were involved in the fishing industry in Port Macquarie for more than 60 years.   Cec. collected specimens with attractive shapes and colours, and because there were often large numbers of them caught up in his nets and trays, he was able to be selective, keeping only those that were rare and valuable and in perfect condition.  He also kept records of where each shell or group of shells were found, and the depth of water in which they were caught.

A Model Boat

A Model Boat

Circa 1970 / Learn more on Ehive
it is likely that it was not built primarily as a display model, but rather as a children’s toy that was designed to float and sail yet, was sturdy enough to withstand regular use

This unnamed model boat, made by timber worker, Arthur Law (1900-1979), was once believed to be a replica of the Septom, an offshore fishing trawler which was built at the Hibbard boatyard in Port Macquarie during the 1940s by shipwright Septimus Windeyer for Tom Radley, a well known local fisherman,

The Septom was launched in May 1946 and was a familiar vessel in Port Macquarie and offshore waters for more than 30 years.  It is understood that Arthur Law, who worked all his life at the Telegraph Point and Hibbard timber mills, helped lay the hull of the fishing trawler.   However his model differs greatly in its dimensions and detail from those of the trawler, and does not display any of the finesse or classic lines of the full sized vessel.

Because this model has a simple structure and contains basic fittings which are made from readily available materials, it is likely that it was not built primarily as a display model, but rather as a children’s toy that was designed to float and sail yet, was sturdy enough to withstand regular use.

Model boat making has always been a popular men’s craft and is believed to be as old as shipbuilding itself, dating back to ancient times when water transport was first developed.  It is recorded that during the Napoleonic wars, French and English seamen who were taken prisoner often sought relief from boredom by building model ships from scraps of wood and bone.  Also Britain’s supremacy in the 18th and 19th centuries created wider interest in ships and in ship models and simple models were often built as children’s toys.