Bulli is an old coal mining village located 70 km south of Sydney on the south coast of New South Wales. It is a mixture of people, beautiful scenery and industrial compounds. Here the steep mountain slopes sweep down from the cliffs to meet the coastal plain.
During early summer in December it has a mild, sunny coastal climate mostly a mix of clear and cloudy skies with the temperature around 22 C. Often a south-east wind blows up from the Antarctica along the east Australian coast giving a touch of chill to the early morning air. It is just after sunrise the sea mist clouds come in from over the horizon and begin to blanket the nearby mountain range. The darkness has been lifted off the coastline to expose golden sands, azure blue ocean water and velvet green hillsides.
A green, compact, four door BMW, bursts off the freeway. After pausing at the top of the escarpment above the coastline, it growls down the mountain like a predator: sleek, dark, its piercing headlights cut through the lead-grey sea mist which shrouds the last tight bend and then into the town of Thirroul. At the wheel a weary driver allows a small smile of expectation to embrace his face. On the seat beside him lays a Shimano(R) 4000 FB designed with Hyperloop. This provides added smoothness for increased sensitivity a feature which is appreciated worldwide. For jobs like the one he is about to undertake he favors his eight foot six weapon which has a fast action that lets him cast a heavy sinker far out beyond the first line of breaking waves.
The sedan races past the nearly deserted Bulli Township then zigzags its way through the back streets heading towards the coast. Suddenly it veers into the car park situated near Ruby’s café. Life guards preparing for the day lift their heads and give it a second look as it passes by. The darkened windows make it impossible for them to see who is inside, so their attention, which they gave over for a moment, is withdrawn and they return to their more important task of preparing for beach patrol. The driver gets out; his brushed back hair is not disturbed by the breeze. A pleasant but determined face is partially concealed by dark sunglasses as he begins the slow deliberate task of unpacking his gear and with rod and bucket in hand he walks towards the golden sands of Bulli beach.
He pauses at the edge of the dune before entering the beach and takes a few moments to study the surf to see how the waves are breaking, where the whitewash is forming and where the darker blue channels are. He’s looking for gutters, holes, rip areas, drop-offs, and shallow sand banks. He observes the dark blue and green colours of a gutter running parallel with the beach. and this is where he heads.
“Good morning Mr. Fish.” He says.
Total silence. There is no reply from the bubbling ocean and the two sea gulls picking morsels from the sea edge do not even give him the courtesy of looking in his direction. They know that a least fifty men have come to catch Salmon and all have failed. He opens his bait bag and a smile greets the occupant, a fresh prawn. He inserts the hook through the prawn’s anus and out through its head. Then in an explosive instant his outstretched arm casts the line far out into the incoming waves. Fear and panic immediately grips the small surface bait fish but it is too late they can’t resist the allure of fresh prawn and soon a small size sand whiting is wrestled onto the beach. As a self-appointed protector of all small fish especially sardines the whiting is thrown back into the jaws of the whitewash.
Over the next hour or so he walks along the beach and as the tide moves out he is able to increase his casting distance but alas to no avail. The fish are not responding to his bait. Today they are shy and timid. He thought he had the right combination of rod, reel and rig setup but often being a professional does not always guarantee success. Failure is a problem, not from a professional point of view, but from the point of view that he has to tell his family and friends. Crouching down over his bait bucket and fishing gear he lets a moment of silence pass. Then he slowly makes his way back along the beach to Ruby’s café. He may not have caught Salmon today but he will be back because folklore has it that the fish return to the exact spot where they have made a fool of you before.
At the café the mid-morning sunlight sneaks past the curtain of clouds. The soft golden-yellow rays dance on the blue sea that seems to go on forever. The warm coffee and toast provides a gentle touch to what has otherwise been an undignified defeat for the fisherman. He knows his family will want to question him when he returns home and all he can do is appear to co-operate and make up a story of a close encounter. Both parties know he is lying but that’s what lone fisherman do. Fish on your own and have no witnesses to the truth: that’s the motto.