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Story 2010 Seeking carp at the antipodes - Part 2

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 10 years, 2 months ago

Seeking carp at the antipodes (Part 2: Australia)



July 2010


Tokyo, Sydney and Brisbane


The entire Moisand family

See also

Antipodes Part 1 (Japan)

Picasa pics album




After our exploration of Tokyo, another long flight brought us to Australia, and in the midst of various sightseeing activities, we kept trying to see if we could find some signs of carp, or at least some interesting fish. Carp have been introduced in Australia quite a while ago, as explained by the following:


In Victoria, the stocking of carp began as early as 1859, but early stocking attempts were not successful. In NSW, the earliest known introductions occurred near Sydney in 1865. In the early 1900s, fingerlings were used to establish several wild populations of carp around Sydney, including in Prospect Reservoir (where they still persist). [...]


Until the 1960s, carp were, although widespread in the [Murray-Darling] Basin, still relatively uncommon, except in some irrigation canals and other slow-moving waters. However, during the 1970s carp underwent a rapid population expansion, colonising many new areas and greatly increasing in abundance. This has been attributed to a combination of the release of a new strain (known as the ‘Boolara strain’ after the fish farm in Victoria that bred and distributed them), together with widespread flooding in 1974 and 1975, which provided access to many previously isolated areas of habitat


I knew it would be unlikely to find as many references to carp as in Japan though, as Aussies are not exactly friendly to carp, which they consider as "pests", here is an excerpt of some local regulations for NSW (where Sydney is located), and for QLD (where Brisbane is located).


In NSW carp are currently listed as a Class 3 noxious species under the Fisheries Management Act 1994. This permits their sale and possession. This listing recognises the fact that wild carp are a commercial fisheries species and koi carp are an important ornamental fish in NSW, but it aims, through education and awareness-raising, to discourage further spread of carp. Currently it is not illegal for recreational fishers to immediately return carp to the water where they were captured; however, Industry and Investment NSW strongly encourages fishers to retain and utilise them.


This fish is declared noxious in Queensland. It is unlawful to possess noxious fish alive or dead or to use them as bait. It is illegal to place or release noxious fish alive or dead into Queensland waterways. Penalties of up to $200,000 apply.


If you want to know more, the NSW carp control plan (PDF file) provides extensive background information, as well as document future government plans.




Once we settled in a hotel in Sydney, the first step was of course to take a ferry - we went from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay. Where it is hard to miss some impressive landmarks, notably the Opera and the Harbour bridge. This red boat caught my eye for a second before I realized that this was referring to carpentry!



And then where to go, except to the Sydney aquarium, which is a thing of beauty, notably its impressive system of tunnels allowing you to enjoy the view of sharks, giant rays and even dugongs, swimming around or above you. I recorded multiple short video sequences of our visit to the aquarium (yeah, no carp in there of course!), and here are two YouTube videos to share our excitement of visiting such a great aquarium. 


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We visited Sydney for a couple more days, no sign of carp (including in local bookstores), then took a train to go to Brisbane - another long trip! Brisbane proved to be a very pleasant city, centered on a meandering river (aptly named the Brisbane river) which is one of the oldest watersheds on Earth according to our touristic guide. There is plenty of access along the river, parks, ferries, everything. Water seemed pretty muddy though, and the only fish I spotted was a weird box-like tiny thing.



In a local market along the south bank, Edith -always observant- was sure that this bag represented a carp, but I doubt it...



One of the primary goals of going to Brisbane was to visit the Australian zoo, yes, the "crocodile hunter" zoo. This Steve Irwin fellow was much more than a showman, and this zoo is remarkable, with wide spaces for the animals, which all seem in much better health than the usual zoo, and undoubtedly much more active and cared for. Oh, and Felix is in awe of Bindy (Steve Irwin's daughter) and watched her TV shows again and again, so we really couldn't miss it. He even got strange ideas on how to deal with crocodiles, and I'm glad this one was fake... Notably after attending the mandatory crocodile show where some crazy Aussie hand-feeds frightening beasts! And those toothy animals do move fast!



Where are the carp in all those pics, would you ask? Well, we didn't see anything about it in Brisbane, except when visiting the local Chinatown. Where I caught one which was definitely more than 50 pounds, I swear. Ok, maybe this is the result of visiting this store dubbed "Happy High Herbs" (I kid you not!) which had rather interesting products and displays... Anyway, I vividly remember catching this monster fish, and I'll stick to my story!



Back to Sydney


Back to Sydney, as there was no carp in sight, I wanted to see the ocean, so we took the ferry to Manly, and well, this is quite a beach (with the mandatory surfers, of course), which Felix enjoyed very much.



 Walking along the coast, we spotted two fishermen at the bottom of an impressive cliff (we did walk up there later on).



Another goal of going to Brisbane was to dive Moreton Island, which is at the very end of the great barrier reef. I don't have pics about it, but we also spent a morning diving near Sydney (pics below), and Alexis was lucky enough to see a couple of small sharks and an octopus while I only spotted a bunch of smaller tropical fish. As a side note, this was winter time in Australia (which basically means 60F to 70F weather, not too harsh!), and this made the water rather chilly. Right after the diving boat dropped us at the wharf, a local angler asked Alexis to help him, and this was the only real fishing that we did in the whole trip (three weeks without fishing for me, now that's not usual)!


PS. oh, and we also saw whales in Brisbane while the diving boat was on its way. No sea turtles though, although they were supposed to be there.



We spent our last afternoon visiting the botanic garden in Sydney, where we were lucky to be there right on time for a great sunset picture. We actually attended a performance at the Sydney opera in the evening, a show called "Just Macbeth", described as "a hilariously immature take on Shakespeare's dark and bloody tragedy", and this proved quite an accurate description, we just couldn't stop laughing...



Traveling back home 


Well, definitely little sign of carp in Australia, from what we saw. Although in the morning of the last day, before going to the airport, we visited the largest market in Sydney, the Paddy's Markets when one can find many small stores, lots of them being operated by Asian people. And sure enough, one of those shops did have a nice carp sculpture.



On the (looong) way back home, we were up for one last surprise. As fate would have it, we stopped a couple of hours at the San Francisco airport, and guess what was displayed in the airport terminal? Chinese artwork... And when one say Chinese, carp representations are never far away. I really have to plan for a family vacation in China... (I am actually quite serious!). 



Once we made it home, after a grueling 24 hours trip, I finally checked my pending messages more carefully (we had very spotty Internet access during our trip), and figured out that two guys from Australia had asked me questions about carp fishing and underwater videos! And one of them was located in Sydney, knew where to find carp, including stunning wild koi! I could have gone fishing with the guy if I had checked my messages earlier... Oh well, next time... Here is one of his videos, proving that carp fishing in Australia can be a blast!


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