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Snapshot - Railway Jetty Recollections

Published on Tuesday, 16 February 2021 at 3:36:00 PM

Railway Jetty Recollections by Neville Thompson

Long gone now is Geraldton’s Railway Jetty which extended seawards from the end of Durlacher Street, with a semicircular spur on the eastern side to link with the town’s railway and give rail access to the jetty’s shipping berths.

It was this semicircular spur section, about 80 meters long, between the first swimming platform and the shore, which was a focal point for summer evening crowds made up of keen anglers and spectators.

The attraction was a regular school of herring, lured close to this jetty section by streaks of whale oil or boiled down shark liver oil, the thin oily film drifting for a kilometre or more from the jetty on a light breeze. Finely crushed stale bread was also dropped into the streak at intervals while the anglers and spectators patiently waited for the herring to swim up to the streak and close to the jetty.

The fish were not on any set schedule and it was a case of just wait, wait, wait.

Then there would be a stir of excitement among the crowd on the jetty as the first herring revealed their presence by a small splash on the sea surface as they chased after the crushed, stale bread.

Anyone who had a rod or handline cast their baited hooks into the sea and there were yells of delight as herring by the dozen were hooked, hauled in, hooks rebaited and cast out again.

This was a regular scene in the 1930’s and early 1940’s before the wooden decking of the Railway Jetty and rail lines were removed by the army during World War 2, much of the timber being recycled in defence emplacements in other areas of the town.

Caption: Railway Jetty c1940, courtesy of the Buchan Family.

Caption by Neville Thompson.

Snapshots is an initiative of the Geraldton Regional Library. For more information, or to donate a historical photo or slide to the Library, contact Heritage Services at the Geraldton Regional Library on 9956 6659 or library@cgg.wa.gov.au

Railway Jetty

P 654

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