The Italian fishermen
Some of the Italian fishermen with their catch on Old Government Wharf, Tuncurry in the 1930’s. Seated at left is Enrico Bonventi, Joe Fazio is with the basket, Johann Fazio with the bream and flathead and Vince Fazio with the crabs. The boy in the background is Conrad Amato.
In 1866 Vincenzo Fazio arrived in Australia from Lipari, Italy. He first arrived in Melbourne and soon moved to Sydney where he joined the fishing fleet. After 10 years he managed to buy his own fishing gear and made his way to the southern end of Wallis Lake. Here he launched his boat and pulled north up the lake to Tuncurry, where he settled in 1896, joining his brother-in-law Phillipo Sciacca.
Phillipo Sciacca sailed to Sydney with Vince’s sister Maria and five children in 1889, travelling north to fish in Wallis Lake before bringing his family to settle in Tuncurry.
In later years two Amato families arrived – Leonado in around 1914 and then brothers Antonio, Nicolo, Sabino and Mauro in the late 1920’s.
Enrico Bonventi arrived in Australia in 1912 after leaving Ostiglia, Italy aged 14. He immediately travelled north to work in the QLD cane fields and would travel south for part of the year to join the fishermen of Sydney. It was on one of these trips “Rico” met the Sciacca brothers – Tony, Joseph, Phillip and Vince as well as Vince and Giovanni Fazio and Leo Amato. Upon returning from WWI Rico was invited to join the Fazio brothers fishing in Tuncurry commencing a strong friendship that endured over the years.
The Italian fisherman worked continuously and brought stability to the local industry. It is said they introduced the Mediterranean style of fishing that still forms the basis for present day methods.
Tuncurry’s Working Waterfront local history project, is a heritage mosaic due to be installed in John Wright Park this coming June. The design is being developed to visually represent the early industries that utilized the waterfront site and the vital role they played in forming the foundations of the town and community.