1968, a bumper Gulf of Carpentaria prawn season prompted “gold rush fever” for 1969. More trawlers, new players, a Russian super trawler. A small syndicate from a little Queensland town saw an opportunity and went for it, sparking an unlikely adventure in international shipping.
A great Aussie yarn? Fanciful plot line? NO! Amazingly – TRUE!
MELTED WAX is a fictionalized version of that story.
Others invested in trawlers or processing plants. Our heroes decided on a vessel to shuttle between catching grounds and processing plants. Frozen prawns one way, fuel and supplies the other.
Great idea, good plan.
Found a ship in Europe, borrowed from a Dutch bank, incorporated a company in Holland. Brought the ship around Africa to newspaper headlines “Million dollar prawn ship in Townsville!”
Huge learning curve. Massive cost differential, slipping out to the reef for a spot of fishing and running a real ship half way around the world.
Big problem – 1969 was a season disaster. Only two prawns in the Gulf. One caught by the CSIRO for research, the other died of loneliness.
What could they do, no prawns and a 500 ton ship? Dutch flag meant it couldn’t operate on the Australian coast. Our heroes were desperate.
Money flowed out like a 4 metre Whitsunday tide.
Months of twisting, turning, ducking, hoping. Not opening window face envelopes.
Almost accidentally, they secured a charter to shuttle between Bougainville and Sydney, transporting food for the Conzinc Rio Tinto copper mine.
The charter was lucrative, but the syndicate was not skill-equipped to manage a foreign flagged ocean going ship. Or the sudden inflow of big money.
When the opportunity for another ship, another charter, they succumbed to the 1970’s… More money from the Dutch bank? No worries.
Another Dutch company? Easy peasy. Repaint the new ship to match? Yeah, why not.
So now they owned a fleet. Well, two. One 500 tons, one 1100 tons.
Pretty impressive stuff for a few blokes from a tiny rural town. And there’s more…
To find out how they made it to that point, and what happened after, read the third book in my Williams Series, MELTED WAX.
About the only facts are those above. Please read and enjoy as fiction.
MELTED WAX, and all my Williams Series, available from: