Tuna fishing at Eden, New South Wales, 1960

People have been fishing Australian waters for tens of thousands of years. Those catches are part of a bigger story, laying bare generations of eating habits and material culture. The Catch reveals the diversity of fishing practices across the years, documenting the natural bounty of Australia’s fisheries as well as some of the challenges of managing them sustainably.

Drawing on material from the National Library’s collections, this exhibition travels through time, examining fishing techniques from diverse communities. Long before the latest fishing fads, the Eora fisherwomen used fibres from young trees, wrapped around their fingers, as handlines, with hooks carved from abalone shells.

In this snapshot of how and why we fish, learn how fishing helped families survive the Great Depression, see the 1930s posters that spawned a new tourism industry and understand why fishing hooks us in and keeps us coming back.

Join the conversation #TheCatch

Image: Ern McQuillan, Tuna fishing at Eden, New South Wales, 1960, nla.cat-vn3308198

Exhibition checklist