Maria in Ocean’s Trial was lucky enough to land a job in the Fremantle Fish Market in 1923 – the perfect place for a girl who knew fish and the ocean, but not much else.
Merry and Maria lived on Tuckfield Street, which is (and was) a real road in Fremantle, Western Australia. If you’re trying to place everything in Ocean’s Trial, I can make it easier for you with a contemporary map. This is dated 1919, four years before Maria arrived in Fremantle, but it’s the closest I’ve been able to find. If you find this version a bit small, you can click on the image to see the full sized map.
Fishing in Fremantle
Now the fishing industry in Western Australia started soon after European colonists arrived. Fish were plentiful around the reefs and rocks at the mouth of Fremantle Harbour and the migrant fishermen were happy to exploit this natural resource.
While there were some English migrant fishermen, the industry was predominantly in the hands of migrants from Italy. They slept on their boats, worked hard and sold their fish at a good price – so it’s no wonder that when you look back at the names of Western Australian fishermen in the early 1900s, most of them are Italian.
Fishing boats were sail and steam – often with a well in the middle, filled with seawater, so the catch could be kept alive for a bit longer so they’d still be fresh when the fishermen brought their catch ashore.
The Fish Market
In 1923, though, the Fremantle Fish Market was in the buildings at the end of the jetty where the fish were landed. Sheltered by a sea wall, the fish market operated here until 1928, when it was moved to where Kailis now sells fish and chips to tourists (and researchers).
The fishing fleet still ties up here, but the ships are bigger than ever before.
The fishermen who brought their catch ashore in baskets now only use baskets to catch rock lobsters – though, more often than not, they use modern batten pots instead.
And between the modern restaurants selling seafood and even fish and chip ice cream, where the old jetty and fish market once stood is a memorial – to the fishermen of Fremantle.
Yes, I did go to great lengths to research my Turbulence and Triumph series – but that’s the point of historical fiction and historical romance. Getting the details right so the story flows effortlessly.