For a good many years I gradually yielded to an impression that Australian waters, especially on the Indian Ocean side, would develop some of the greatest big-game fishing in the world.
At first, all I had to excite such interest were newspaper articles about man-eating sharks, and vague fish stories that drifted up from "down under." But in recent years I have corresponded with scientists, market fishermen, anglers, even missionaries, from all of whom I gathered data that added to my convictions, and finally sent me down to the under side of the world to see for myself, and prove, if possible, that my instinct and imagination were true guides. But though my chief concern was with Australia's thirteen thousand miles of rugged coast line, a small bit of which I hoped to explore, I was hardly prepared for this land of staggering contrasts, of unbelievable beasts, of the loveliest and strangest birds, of great modern English cities, of vast ranges that rivaled my beloved Arizona, and of endless forestland, or bush, as they call it, never yet adequately described, no doubt because of beauty and wildness beyond the power of any pen to delineate.
We arrived in Australia in time to welcome the New Year, 1936. I had seen many of the celebrated harbors of the world and was not prepared to surrender the supremacy of New York Harbor or that of San Francisco, not to mention Havana, Rio de Janeiro, and others, to this magnificent Australian refuge for ships with its shores of color and beauty. One of my camera men, Gus, exclaimed, enthusiastically and regretfully: "Say, this's got Frisco Harbor skinned to a frazzle." And I cannot do any better than quote this American slang.
Sydney is a great city, a real city, and there's no need to say more. During my short stay there I saw practically everything and was greatly impressed by many things. But this is to be an account of my fishing adventures in Australia, and it would take another volume to describe the country itself.
From what information I could gather, the neighborhood of Montague Island had yielded most of the swordfish that had been seen and caught by Australians. So after enjoying the hospitality of Sydney for several days, we gathered up bag and baggage and motored down the coast some two hundred and seventy-five miles to the little town of Bermagui, where we established our camp.
It seems, as the years go by, that every camp I pitch in places far from home grows more beautiful and romantic. The setting of the one at Bermagui bore this out in the extreme. From the village a gradual ascent up a green wooded slope led to a jutting promontory that opened out above the sea. The bluff was bold and precipitous. A ragged rock-bound shoreline was never quiet. At all times I seemed aware of the insatiate crawling sea. The waves broke with a thundering crash and roar, and the swells roared to seething ruin upon the rocks. Looking north across a wide blue bay, we could see a long white beach. And behind it dense green forest, "bush," leading to a bold mountain range, and the dim calling purple of interior Australia. This shoreline swung far to the north, ending in a cape that extended out, pointing to Montague Island, bare and bleak, with its lighthouse standing erect, like a gray sentinel.