SOUTH West Rocks was a heaving mass of locals, tourists, sounds and smells today as a big crowd plated up for the 9th annual Loaves and Fishes barbecue.
Put on by the South West Rocks professional beach haul fishers, in combination with OceanWatch Australia and the South West Rocks Surf Life Saving Club, the resultant horde of attendees was at best improbable.
It was raining steadily across the Mid North Coast, and torrential as nearby as Seven Oaks, yet inexplicably the only thing which fell at The Rocks was sunbeams.
"We had one shower right at the start, but that was it. Call it divine intervention," fisher David Mitchell said.
Miracle number one - and a second had already transpired, unbeknown to all but the organisers.
There was no fish to cook!
"I was starting to get a bit panicky," David revealed, "because the mullet haven't started running, even down at Newcastle they haven't started."
But like the Biblical legend of making do with seemingly little - the day was saved.
"In the end we managed to get some fish from down near Tea Gardens - all 900 fillets of them," David said.
So the punters were none the wiser, and just pleased to feast on barbecued sea mullet sangers - some of which were given the tandoori treatment this year to spice things up.
The success story was a combined effort. The Surf Club supplies the venue and the band (The Ghost Road Boys), while OceanWatch Australia told the story to help people better understand the history of the local beach haul fishery and how it operates.
Listen to The Ghost Road Boys at the event:
OceanWatch Australia is a national not-for-profit company that works to advance sustainability in the Australian seafood industry.
OceanWatch and the local SWR beach haul crew have had a long association, working on many projects together, ranging from scientific research on issues such as bycatch reduction, through to community extension activities.