Alfred Hughes’ Fishing Trip

Alfred Hughes’ Fishing Trip

This is the first of a series of family stories/legends – the memories of some family members

In the 1920’s, after Alfred’s service in World War 1 he continued to suffer the effects of a mustard gas attack that left him with lung and stomach troubles. He had to be careful with what he ate. The family moved to the house in Moore Road in Freshwater where Alfred worked as a clerk with Warringah Council. He supplemented his income with fishing.

He had a small dinghy that he would row out from Freshwater Beach in the evening and return with his catch later in the night. What did not go on the kitchen table his children would sell door to door to their regular customers.

One evening he and Charlie rowed out to fish their favorite spot. But this was not to be a typical night.

A storm came in and the seas turned nasty. They began to row back to shore in the dark when a wave overturned the boat and both men found themselves in the water. Alfred’s lung problems made him not a strong swimmer. The boat could not be found. Sharks typically patrolled these waters. Alfred found the icebox floating and held on. He was joined by Charlie and the sea took them on a drifting ride. They floated with the icebox until they finally came ashore at Mona Vale Beach, many miles to the north. After many hours in the water they were both exhausted and slept on the beach.

Next morning the police received a report of an upturned boat on Curl Curl Beach. The local officer, knowing the boat, called around to the house to inform Edith that her husband and son were believed to be lost at sea during the storm. Of course the friends and neighbours rallied around to support the family.

Meanwhile Alfred and Charlie set out for the tram sheds at Narrabeen. Problem, They had no money for a ticket and began to walk home.

By five in the afternoon relatives, friends and neighbours had gathered to offer condolences, bring plates of sandwiches and scones and of course a beer. Imagine their surprise when the door opened to admit two bedraggled fishermen. Particularly when Alfred looks around and says, “That’d be bloody right. We go fishin’ for a bit and you throw a bloody party.”