An old mate of mine I’ve known for about 40 years is ‘fishmonger extraordinaire’ Jim Doyle. Jim and his family have run the Doyles Seafood restaurant on the Beach, the Wharf and the Sydney Fish Market for many, many years. At one time the family also owned Doyles at Rose Bay, The Quay, and the Watsons Bay Hotel. Now Jim’s side of the family are at Wato and the Fish Market only.
I caught up with Jim and his son Jack down at the Bay recently, for a chat. They are the classic sea dogs; they live to fish, flannos all round and great knockabout blokes. Every chance they can, they get 25 miles out to sea chasing down tuna, gemfish or whatever it is they can get their hands on. Jack, who is 26, has been in the Bay his whole life, getting his first tinnie at the age of four or five. This bloke knows every inch of Sydney Harbour and most areas outside, and what he doesn’t know Jim can tell him!
The Doyles are a great Australian working class family who’ve come good over 130 years of hard work. If you get a chance, pop down to Watsons Bay and grab some takeaway flathead and chips, sit on the wharf there and take in the view – it’s a ripper.
PS: if you see a bloke in a flanno and work boots, say ‘G’day Jimmy!’
My mate Jim Doyle
Scotty: How long have you and your family lived and worked in Watsons Bay, Jim?
Jim: My great grandparents, Jack and Alice, came to Watsons Bay and set up shop in 1885. Not much around in those days but they had a go and here we are today.
S: What generation are you and Jack?
J: I’m fourth, Jack is fifth.
S: What do you love about the Bay?
J: The peace and quiet at 5am in the morning with the still harbour water; and I love the winter sunsets, too!
S: Besides the obvious (fishing), what else do you love to do?
J: I’ve got a small bush property and I love to get up there swagging – open fires, that sort of stuff.
S: What’s running at the moment, how far out do you go?
J: Tuna, gemfish, blue eye. We get ’em out at Browns (Mountain) about 25 miles out.
S: Favourite food?
S: Favourite beer?
J: XXXX Gold.
S: Are you handy, Jim, can you build?
J: Yes, mate, I do all my own repairs at home and on the boat; if I don’t do it no-one will. I like working on the boat.
S: Best fish recipe?
J: Really simple bit of gemfish or flathead. Roll in a bit of flour, pan-fry in butter or oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Nice and simple but tastes great.
S: You and I have said: “You work hard and hopefully end up with a picture on the wall when you’re gone.” What do ya reckon they’ll say about Jim Doyle?
J: “Jim who? Don’t remember him.”
S: Do you still wake up with a spring in your step, do you love what you do?
J: Absolutely love it, can’t wait to get down here.