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Vale: Peter McNamara

The First Marlin Game Fishing Documentary Screens at The Bermagui Country Club

It is with great sadness that we inform you, former trailblazing Club President, Peter McNamara, has passed away.

Although Peter was not a current member at the time of his passing, the Club wishes to acknowledge the important contribution Peter made to the Club in his time president through the years 1976-1983. For those who knew Peter, he was a trialblazer on and off the water. Under his presidency he took the Club to its highest membership base and successfully insured it's viability remained strong. Peter was also a terrific game and sport fisherman. His names sits on our highly valued and prized President’s and Merit Trophies for a 754 lb blue marlin on 80 lb tackle caught at Mauritius and he along with good friend David Packman pioneered the rise of giant Black Marlin Fishing on the Great Barrier Reef in the late 70s and early 80s.

Our heart felt thoughts go out to Peters family and all his fishing friends.

"Peter not only challenged the Club on ways to move it forward, he supported it with this time and money. When the Club need to make the move to building a website and a better communication platform for member engagement, Peter was quick to provide funding for our websites development."

Scott Gowland. STC Vice President.

To better understand the Club achievements Peter presided over and how he played a key role in the Club the following exert from the Clubs History Book has been reproduced below. It cover the years Peter was President (176-83). It only needs a quick read to see what a wonderful contribution Peter made to the Club.


In 1976 Peter McNamara was elected President. He was to continue in that role until the end of 1983. The Bermagui Big Game Anglers Club held a tournament at Bermagui to celebrate the 40th year of that club. A draft constitution of the newly formed Game Fishing Association of Victoria was prepared and the body formally established. Ian Cutler was the foundation President of the Association. In 1976 the Club lost another of its long-standing members with the passing of Tom Mitchell. Tom was a tireless worker for the Club and for game fishing generally. He served in several positions on the Club committee over many years, including Secretary and President. Tom was an avid angler at Bermagui and enjoyed fishing with local identities such as Johnny Jubb and Ron ‘Spud’ Taylor. In February 1973 Tom captured an Australian and World record yellowfin tuna of 153 lbs on 20 lb line. Tom, together with Jack Taylor, was instrumental in the formation of the Vida Syndicate in 1961, and was regarded by members of the syndicate as the finest light-tackle angler of his time.

Ern Palmer was awarded the President’s and Tom Bell Trophies for a 1,014 lb black marlin caught at Cairns. It was Ern’s first fish over 1,000 pounds. John O’Brien was awarded the Merit Trophy with an 820 lb black marlin caught on 80 lb tackle. Members recorded thirty captures for the year.

Peter McNamara continued as President in 1977. It was noted in the President’s annual report that some four hundred game fishermen were now affiliated with the GFAV. Ern Palmer scooped the trophy pool with a 1,186 lb black marlin on 130 lb tackle. He was awarded the President’s Trophy and the Tom Bell Trophy. David Packman caught a 1,244.5 lb black marlin on 80 lb line that was both an Australian and World record at the time. On a ten-day trip to the Barrier Reef, David, together with President Peter McNamara, tagged and released eighteen fish in the monster class mainly caught on 80 lb tackle – extraordinary angling. During the 1977 season, Cairns recorded sixty black marlin over 1,000 pounds. That made the cumulative total of black marlin over 1,000 pounds caught off Cairns up until then 138 weighed on land and a further 138 weighed at sea, plus another 23 at Lizard Island. The Club files also contain an in-depth report on the possibility of a marina at Bermagui. At the time of writing, there is still no marina.

In 1978 the President’s and Tom Bell Trophies were awarded to David Packman for his 1,244.5 lb black marlin caught in late 1977. Two Club members of note passed away during the year. Tom Bell was an early President of the Club and was largely responsible for its revival after World War 2. His capture of a 1,151 lb tiger shark (in Bermagui’s Horseshoe Bay) on the last day of the 1938 competition to mark Australia’s 150th anniversary became the Club’s first World and Australian record. Tom also set an Australian record for a 238 lb southern bluefin tuna in May 1938. This record still stands and, at the time of writing, is among the oldest in the GFAA record chart. The other member who passed away during 1978 was Jack Nixon of Orbost. Jack was on the 1935 expedition to Montague Island and, together with other members of his family, had fished Bermagui regularly. Two other Club members of note, Sir Robert Southey and Bill Stewart, retired from active committee membership and angling. Both were thanked for their significant contribution to the Club over many years. Ian Cutler continued as GFAV President as well as IGFA representative for Victoria. He also served as GFAA treasurer.

In 1979 the Club membership stood at seventy-five, with GFAV-affiliated membership in excess of six hundred. The Victorian Game Fishing Club held the inaugural South Eastern Invitation Tournament at Bermagui over the Easter period and the Club was represented by several teams. Well over one hundred boats were entered in the event. Members also fished in Hawaii, New Zealand, Fiji and various locations within Australia. Two teams contested the Bay of Islands Billfish Tournament in New Zealand. The Club bestowed life membership on Sir Robert Southey and Wilf Faulkner for services to the Club over a long period. It was noted that four broadbill swordfish were caught on long lines at Bermagui, the largest being 530 lbs. The President’s Trophy was awarded to R S Jones for a striped marlin of 210 lbs. The Tom Bell Trophy was awarded to Stewart Esnouf for a 148.8 lb yellowfin tuna on 50 lb line.

In 1980 Peter McNamara was again elected Club President. At that stage the Club had a membership of eighty-eight, four of whom were life members. It was noted that protected waters were introduced into Queensland, NSW and Victoria as a measure to conserve fish stocks. There was a downturn in fishing around the Cairns area. Some GFAA rules were standardised in relation to traces and double lines. Ian Cutler was elected Vice President of GFAA. During the year the Club received two historic spools of 16mm film from our oldest life member, Ray Symmons, recording the 1935 expedition of Club members to Bermagui and Montague Island. The importance of these two fragile spools of film cannot be overestimated. To preserve them for future generations, they are now held in the National Film and Sound Archive. Two teams from the Club entered the Bay of Islands Billfish Tournament in New Zealand. They came 9th and 16th out of thirty-four teams. The President’s and Tom Bell Trophies were awarded to John O’Brien for a 961 lb black marlin.

In 1981 there were now five clubs (including the STC) affiliated with GFAV, with a total of six hundred and twenty-five members. Ian Cutler boated a 361 lb black marlin on 50 lb tackle at Bermagui and Stan McConnell a 315 lb striped marlin on 20 lb line out of the same port.

Members tagged fish at Cairns and elsewhere. An angler from the USA recorded the second biggest black marlin ever caught out of Cairns. The fish tipped the scales at 1,392 lbs. It was noted that better fishing results had been achieved on the east coast during the season, possibly as a result of the banning of Japanese longline fishing. During 1981 GFAA life memberships were conferred on two STC members – John O’Brien and Peter Goadby. John had served as GFAA President in 1978/79 and was honoured by the Queen in the 1980 New Year’s Honours list with an MBE for his contribution to sport. Later, in 2005, Peter Goadby was to be awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to recreational fishing and the conservation of endangered marine species.

In 1982 Peter McNamara continued as President. The Club membership stood at eight-six. There were fewer capture certificates submitted to the Club during 1982 than in previous years. The Club conferred life membership on former Vice President John Guest in recognition of his many years of service. It was noted that there were quite a few changes to the GFAA rules. The President’s, Tom Bell and Merit Trophies were awarded to Steve Marriot for the capture of a 981 lb black marlin at Cairns. The Tom Mitchell Trophy was awarded to Bob Ellis for a 138 lb yellowfin tuna on 20 lb line caught at Bermagui.

In 1983, following Peter McNamara’s decision to stand down, Ross Oehms was elected President. At that stage the Club had ninety-two members, including five life members. The Club remained active at GFAA and State level. Ian Cutler was now President of GFAA. Bob Ellis was President of GFAV and Kel Taylor was Secretary of the State Association. The GFAV continued to expand. John O’Brien was awarded the Broadbill Trophy for the capture of the Club’s first ever broadbill swordfish. Although the fish was below line class, the committee were of the opinion that such a momentous catch should not go unrecognised.

It was noted in a Club newsletter that Jim Allen and party lost two marlin after hooking up on the east coast of Tasmania. Fishing with Bob Southey and Jim Allen at Bermagui, Bob’s daughter-in-law, Jane Southey, boated a 214 lb yellowfin tuna. Thirty years later that was still the Australian all-tackle women’s record. Ern Palmer took the President’s Trophy with a 348 lb blue marlin at Kona, Hawaii. Bob Ellis scooped the remaining trophies – the Tom Bell, Merit and Tom Mitchell Trophies – with a 142 lb yellowfin tuna on 20 lb line.


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