Skip to Display Options Skip to Main Content
TheTweed A -  |  A +

Email Link   Beach Net Fishing

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Hauling in the fishing net at Greenmount Beach c.1950.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection, No: TH76-21

Fish and other sea life have always been one of the abundant natural resources of the Tweed Shire. For thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, Aboriginal people harvested food from the sea, including fish, oysters, pipis, cockles, prawns and crabs. The early settlers also learnt to rely on the sea and the river for much of their food and this became a local tradition.

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Haul of sea mullet by Boyd fishermen about May 1937 on Kirra Beach, Coolangatta.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection, No: TH57-19

The plentiful stocks of fish encouraged the development of a fishing industry in the region in the early 1900s and it was soon booming. Perhaps the most famous and successful fishermen in the Tweed were the Boyds. The six Boyd brothers, Jack, Herb, Fred, Charlie, Bob and George grew up in Tweed Heads and became legendary beach net fishermen. They fished for sea mullet, tailor, king fish and jewfish and some of their hauls were enormous. In the 1930s a single haul from Kirra Beach filled over one thousand 18lb cases of sea mullet.

Beach fishing was later superceded by sea-going trawlers that would drag large nets behind them collecting everything in their wakes.

Geoffrey's Story

“It goes deep, it’s a cultural thing. My father would come home from work, say ‘Okay, we’re going to the beach’. We’d throw the rods on, the sugar bags, the water bottle, and off we’d go to Cabarita. We lived on pipis, oysters, prawns and crabs.”

Geoffrey Togo, 2003
Tweed Regional Museum Research Collection

Les' Story

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Hauling the mullet net onto the beach, Tweed Heads, c1950.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection, No: K2584

“The headlands were the spots to look out for fish moving up the coast. When a school was sighted a suitable beach was selected and the net boats were launched. Two men would row around the fish and then back to the beach. There were usually plenty of sightseers on hand to help with pulling in the nets, they always went home with a fish or two.”

Les Adams, 1998
Tweed Regional Museum Research Collection

Did you know?

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Bluey Kenny under fishing net, Frank Dunn, Charlie Boyd, Jock Waugh. c1940.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection, No: K2177

  • Archaeologists have excavated Aboriginal middens (which are ancient piles of discarded rubbish) on the Tweed, containing the remains of fish, shellfish and crustaceans, from 4,250 years ago. This tells us the Bundjalung had developed specialised techniques for fishing in the river and the sea.
  • The beach fishermen in the Tweed caught more sea mullet than any other species of fish. The original scientific name for sea mullet was mugil dobula, today, it’s mugil cephalus. Cephalus is a word from the Greek language which means a type of head!

Fishing - Further Reading

Modern Ocean Hauling Fishery Practices (external link)
NSW Department of Primary Industry (DPI)

Sea Mullet (external link)
Fisheries Research and Development Corporation - Australian Government.
Find out more about sea mullet, including recipe ideas.

Cape Byron Marine Park (external link)
Marine Parks Authority NSW

Last Updated: