About The Industry 

The Last fishermen of the Gippsland Lakes 

Every morning for over 150 years, fishers have been plying the waters of the Gippsland Lakes in search of the wide variety of seafood the region has to offer, including prawns, silver trevally and bream, to send to restaurants and fishmongers across the country.

In a chronicle of the Gippsland Lakes Fishery, the fishery’s way of life and connection to land, sea and people, will be exhibited in Melbourne and locally in Lakes Entrance Victoria

In 2018 the remaining 10 Gippsland Lakes commercial fishing licensees were informed that they would be compulsory acquired, ending a multi generation and historically significant fishery.

 This exhibition is to document and acknowledge the contribution and social cultural history of Australia's oldest small scale commercial fisheries they have operated since 1800s these original fisheries and associated ways of life are disappearing all around Australia in Victoria eight of nine Bay an inlet fisheries have been subject to closure in the last 20 years The Gibson lakes commercial fishery is the most recent to face closure.

END OF AN ERA: the Last Gippsland Lakes Fishermen, will feature photographs capturing the final moments of small scale commercial fishing in the Gippsland Lakes, accompanied with historical artefacts and film

The documentation and exhibition of the social-cultural history of the fishery comes as the Gippsland Lakes commercial fishery becomes the most recent in Victoria to close its doors.

the fishery began in the 1800s and set the foundation and beginning of a number of fisheries which now operate from the largest fishing community in Victoria, - Lakes Entrance.

The exhibit will offer a rare look into the fishing community and the community’s last ten fishing families, and at its significant contribution to the Australian fishing industry as a whole.


This project would not have been possible without the help of all the fishermen, current and retired, who so generously gave their time to our team of photographers and the oral historian. Capturing their images and stories in the final year of the Gippsland Lakes commercial fishery was a bittersweet experience and we thank them for their honesty and their openness at such a difficult time. To Arthur Allen, James Casement, Micha Davey,  Ross Gilsenan, Mathew Jenkins, Rob Jenkins, Gary Leonard, Harold Leonard, Frank Mitchelson, Harry Mitchelson, Mary Mitchelson, Kevin Newman, Leigh Robinson, Peter Tabone and Andrew Twigg, we give our heartfelt thanks. We are sad that Frank and Mary Mitchelson are no longer with us to see the exhibition launched, but we are glad they lived long enough to know it was coming. R.I.P Frank and Mary. You were the first to be interviewed and remain an inspiration to us all.


The team of photographers who braved the cold, misty and wet, but beautiful environment of the Gippsland Lakes to capture these images includes Leigh Henningham, Donna Squire and Geoff Stanton. You can see more of their work here: www.leighhenninghamphotography.com.au; https://www.linkedin.com/in/donnasquirephotography/; https://www.facebook.com/GeoffStantonPhotographer/


Dr Nikki Henningham, oral historian, is one of the principle researchers on the project and worked with the fishermen to record their stories.  She listened to the fishermen as their industry was coming to an end and her tact and professionalism was much appreciated by them.


Our consultants, Dr Tanya King and Dr Kirsten Abernathy, have played an integral role in the background, having worked with the community for several years. We thank them for helping get this project from an idea to a reality.


Lynda Mitchelson-Twigg managed this project from beginning to end, keeping us all on track and dealing with any number of unexpected tasks along the way. It would not have happened without her vision, drive and deep love and understanding of the industry and the community.


We would like to acknowledge the generosity of our sponsors: Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC); The National Library of Australia; Deakin University and the University of Melbourne, who have supported the importance of capturing the social contribution that fisheries play.