In the late 1980s, with great change looming in Port Melbourne, Dugga Beazley spoke to documentary maker Richard Crawley of his fear that a time might come when he would no longer be able to run his fishing business from Dow St. That time seems to come every few years when newcomers complain about his business or his trailer. Once again, his operation is under threat after the Council’s crackdown on trailers being kept on the street.
The Beazleys have fished in Port Melbourne since the earliest days of white settlement. Dugga Beazley knows the Bay like few people alive know the Bay – its fish, its winds, its currents, its moods. He knows details about the history of the Bay – the storms, the wrecks, the boats. He has been fishing since he was 13 years old.
He is a very proud Australian, and one of his proudest moments was leading the flotilla of boats up the Yarra River for the Commonwealth Games.
We invest heavily in protecting our built heritage but don’t seem to have the means of celebrating and protecting our living heritage. We should be nominating Dugga as a living treasure rather than hounding him off the street.
On the street he can share those stories rather than locking him away behind a wall. We have so much to learn from him – lived knowledge you can’t find on an iPad or in a book.
Every boat he paints has a story – many that begin right here in Port.
Once he was painting The Volunteer. The Volunteer was built by Jesse William Merrington at 121 Liardet Street around 1920 and 1921. It was originally owned by the Merrington brothers before being sold to George Beazley. Merrington’s boat shed was located on the shores of the Sandridge Lagoon. A further boat, The Enterprise was built off the moulds of The Volunteer at 41 Nott St, Port Melbourne during mid 1930.
‘Oo roo’ as Dugga would say.
Sources Re-Living the Early Days, The Age 2 February 1935 Ida Campbell writes in (an unnamed) newspaper 27 January 1983
Update: The City of Port Phillip interviewed Dugga Beazley when he gave up his fishing license in 2016. Read about Dugga Beazley’s life, chapter by chapter.