Project 2 – Rock Fishermen


I have two ideas for the second project, A Social World. The first is the rock fishermen of the Munmorah State Recreational Reserve, the second is a photo essay about a friend of mine who is a professional underwater photographer, Fred Bavendam. I plan to do both & then to pick one to submit on the due date.

Rock Fishermen – An Outline

The rock platforms of the Munmorah state recreational reserve near where I live, is one of the most deadly locations to rock fish in Australia. Rock fishermen & women regularly lose their lives in this area, being swept of the rocks by rogue waves. The fishermen also contribute to their demise by not wearing life jackets, fishing alone & not being competent swimmers.

The council & fishing authorities have provided life rings & soon, off shore permanent moored safety buoys, memorials have been erected to those who have died but the fishermen keep coming.

The area is a place of great beauty & being on the platform at sunrise, sunset, when the ocean is angry or calm, to appreciate this beauty is a joy in itself. It is also a place that is being destroyed by those who should be appreciating the beauty the most, the fishermen, but they leave behind plastic rubbish of all forms when they have finished fishing. This is an eye sore when seen against the beautiful back drop but is a killer when washed or blown into the sea, to be swallowed by dolphins, whales, turtles & fish.

My intention with this photo essay is to show all of the facets of this beautiful, dangerous place & the people who use it. Will my essay have any impact on those who’s habits need to be changed to protect themselves & the environment…..probably not…..


We have had huge storms this week & the ocean is out of control. I went out early to capture blurred wave motions images on the rock platforms at sunrise. I saw some other photographers lose $1000’s of equipment by not respecting the power & unpredictability of the ocean when she is in a bad mood. The wave came over the rock & flooded their gear. They were lucky not to have been swept into the sea. The image above was taken just seconds before the wave hit them.


The images I took look good & I am please with the results.

Later in the day I went to a location to capture the power & the force of the waves striking the rock platform. The swells were very large storm swells & their force had me in awe. I don’t think I capture the force of the waves in my images. This was due in part to the lack of anything in the images to give the waves scale. That is, there were no rock fishermen about. ;>))

After a few days when the seas had abated I went back to the rock platforms at Munmorah to capture images of the rock fishermen. I went at different times, early morning & during the day. I will continue to try to capture the fishermen over a number of trips to show the variations in their styles of dress, their fishing actions, their catch & the rubbish they leave behind. From these images I will choose the best ten which show their story.

One my next trip the seas were running high & there was one lone fisherman. I spoke with him & asked if it was OK to take photos, he was good with that & posed at first but then he became bored with me & went about fishing so I could take more natural photos. I also photographed the memorial to some of those who have died here. One had some very truthful words which I plan to use when I up loaded this to social media. There are warning signs in the area identifying the risks so I photographed these as well.


With a southerly change on the 24th January came some more big swells, this combined with the Australia Day long weekend meant there was a good possibility of fishermen. When I arrived there were no fishermen but there was swell & after an hour of waiting I was leaving when six fishermen arrived. They were of middle eastern origin but had been in Australia for most of their lives. They picked a spot to fish which I judged as being dangerous as the big sets of swells rolled right over this section of the rock platform. They said they came here often but they started fishing immediately without studying the swells. After about 20 minutes the first of the rouge wave rolled over the platform. The fishermen scrambled out of the way, one even leaving his rod & jumping to an over head ledge to hold on with only his arms as the water ran beneath him. Only one of the six was wearing a life jacket & one was wearing thongs. I spoke with them about what they caught & why they liked rock fishing as opposed to beach or lake fishing. This location was really good for big fish when it was happening (they caught three good Trevally while I was there) & they said that they di enjoy the danger/excitement of the unpredictable waves. It was a game to them. Throughout the time I was with them they were far more animated & seemed to be having more fun than any other fishermen I had photographed.

Still looking for the shot of the fisherman leaving & walking past the lifebuoy I went back on the afternoon of the 26th January. One of the original fishermen was there & I could see he was planning to leave so I anticipated his path out & positioned my self to get the image. Unfortunately he took a slightly different path which did not give me the ideal shot. I will keep working on it. There was a group of Asian fishermen & their family further around on the rocks. The children were having a great time running totally unrestrained all over the rock platform. One of the fishermen caught a fish which looked very heavy as he played it & I had high expectations but it was a small common sting ray.

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