If you're familiar with The Esplanade along Brisbane's bayside, the foreshore road that skirts the seaside from Lota to Wynnum, you might have noticed the little creek at the very northern end of it, in Wynnum. A quaint little inlet filled, it seems, with the oldest of yachts and most unseaworthy looking vessels, listing in the mud at low tide, and looking like they might sink at the high tide.
Sometimes hard to imagine that this little inlet and some of these particular boats, not more than 40 years ago, were part of something much bigger. John Parke, in his new book Against the Tide, has breathed life back into some of this local history through the stories of the ancient mariners.
"They were our heroes"
At what was a great night of Jazz and short films held in Moreton Bay Trailer Boat Club in November, John launched his book. The night was such a success that stores in Wynnum and Manly have decided to sell the book, and it is also available directly through John on his website.
The book is an amazing journey through Wynnum and Moreton Bay's local history. It chronicles the stories of the fisherman and the bustling community of which they were heroes. John Parke has also penned a number of poems which delightfully capture the fantastic wit and strength of these men.
Describing Moreton Bay's fishing industry, the story is one of boom and bust; from a fishing fleet that brought in Queensland's second largest annual haul and flourished until the 1980's, to a time now where they are looking to the future and learning from the enormous challenges they have dealt with over the years.
Wynnum Creek circa 1912
Recording our local history, from such individual memories as this, is crucial, I believe. Knowing that these men used to sail, and in bad weather, row the 40 kilometre round trip out to their fishing grounds, mostly still with smiles on their faces is well worth remembering. For that reason alone this book is a fantastic record of part of the history of Moreton Bay.
Another successful outcome from the book launch is that the event brought many of the old boys and their families out from the woodwork, approaching John to take down their personal stories too. This has encouraged John to begin another book of local history as more fisherman from Stradbroke Island, Wynnum, Manly and Moreton Bay want to tell their tales.