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10 September 2008


Robert Whyte

Hi, I was wondering why the yabbie pump was misnamed. Here's something I have written recently for a seaside museum at Bribie Island, where I think the invention occurred.

The discovery of yabbies

Amazingly, until 1927, the anglers of Moreton Bay were entirely unaware of the saltwater yabbie Callianassa australiensis – the holy grail of baits for bream whiting and flathead. Ian Gall recounts the story in his book Fishing for the fun of it, when he was a ring-in for the QAFA in an early fishing competition. The rivals were the Tweed boys, who arrived at Bribie with some great big glass jars filled with wriggling pink and white things called yabbies. Naturally the Tweed boys wiped the floor with the locals.

That started the hunt in Moreton Bay for the wonder bait. Yabbie pumps were unknown. The method was to drop on all fours, dig a deep, wide hole in the sandy flats. Yabbie holes would appear as the sides caved in and if you were fast and strong enough you could wriggle your arm down to the armpit and grab a yabbie. Or it grabbed you, sinking its big nipper into your thumb. Then getting your arm out was quite a fight against the suction and the sand.

Necessity being the mother of invention, the yabbie pump swiftly evolved. First galvanised downpipe, then stainless steel, then the brass model still seen today.


oh i see! Thanks for the note. I think it was because here in Singapore, we tend to associate yabby with freshwater crayfish (which are often imported here under that name). I wasn't aware that it's used for ghost shrimp too.

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