Katarapko: Oral History of Eric (John) Aston


Katarapko: Oral History of Eric (John) Aston


An interview in seven parts with Eric ‘John’ Aston.

Born in 1942, John held a commercial licence between 1956 and 1997. He discusses his family history in commercial fishing since 1918, three generations. His grandfather was also a boat maker. He tells the story of how ‘Squabbily Creek’ at Murtho Forest came to be named by his father Raymond Charles ‘John’ Aston. In those days, buying a fishing reach meant buying good will, not the water. John talks extensively about professional fishing as a family business, and gives a sense of the long hours of labour the whole family put into making fishing nets and boats. Professional fishing has an important memory status amongst people who live along the river.

John talks about: fishing licenses, and the licence system introduced in 1922; fishing equipment; fishing practices, since 1920s; changes in fishing materials and the introduction of synthetics, 1960s; changes in water levels from irrigation; impact of Dartmouth Dam on River Murray flow; Hume Dam levels; flows from the Darling; water colour and clarity; three distinct water colours (in the Murray, Lachlan/Murrumbidgee, Darling); changes to water levels with the building of weirs and locks, late 1920s; objects he has found in the guts of Murray Cod; 1956 flood; 1992 flood – ‘a complete change of fish’; Chowilla Floodplain, 1991-1993; movement of wildlife in floods; salt from irrigation. (Mention of 'bream' fish, unspecified).


Heather Goodall
Jodi Frawley


University of Technology, Sydney


Murray-Darling Basin Authority
NSW Department of Primary Industries - NSW Fisheries


Copyright University of Technology, Sydney



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Jodi Frawley


Eric (John) Aston


Renmark, South Australia


Part 1 00:14:12
Part 2 00:00:59
Part 3 00:17:03
Part 4 00:02:09
Part 5 00:20:58
Part 6 00:21:31
Part 7 00:05:45

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