Book Review: The story of my life by Antonino Spinella

Coming from a long line of fishermen, it would be easy to assume Tony Spinella would naturally follow in their footsteps, but Tony’s life took a number of turns and diversions as a navy sailor, baker, cook, labourer and roadie for award-winning actress Ingrid Bergman, before the call of the sea lured him to Western Australia’s MidWest coast and on to Darwin.

Those who have met Tony will know him as a crayfisherman and pioneer of barramundi fishing in the open sea. Prior to this, barramundi fishing was almost exclusive to saltwater rivers.

Tony changed this way of fishing after a misadventure saw his boat wedged on a mudflat one kilometre out to sea from a river mouth. While stuck Tony, always the opportunist, noticed schools of barramundi popping nearby and after paddling a net around them from his dinghy, pulled in more than 500 kilograms of fish. The additional load ensured he had to sit and wait for the rising tide to return home, but it opened a new style of barramundi fishing for the Territory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony shows off the new book, which is published in two languages.

The book is more than just a recollection of one man’s life and carries a number of stories that will resonate with commercial fisherman today who will identify with the underlying messages of a love-of-the-sea, confidence, risk taking, opportunity and the courage to follow your passion. It’s also about the value of sharing your journey with family and friends.

Reflecting Tony’s multi-cultural life, the easy-to-read book is printed in Italian and English and is loaded with anecdotes, comments and observations of life as a commercial fisherman.

Beyond the tale of a fisherman’s life, the stories provide a graphic insight into the changes in fishing practices over the last 50 years – particularly those in northern Australia – where a high-powered rifle was an essential part of preparation for a trip.

The stories are particularly engaging for those who have spent time in northern Australia, particularly the Darwin region, as the names and references will bring a smile to their face.

Not surprisingly, you’ll also find some sidebar-type stories which reference some of the wild encounters during his time in the Territory during the 1960s, when sharks were plentiful and crocs were large and angry.

The first edition of this book has almost sold out with limited copies still available. Those wanting to secure a copy should contact Angus Callander on eo@icu.org.au to place orders.