The Crab King

The late Bimbo Rushford was a legendary crabber. He lived for many years on the Mallabula waterfront and residents were awakened early in the morning by the putt-putt-putt of his old clinker built half-cabin fishing boat leaving the bay to run his snares.

His fellow crabbing mate Billy Fordham had the local record: over 60 blue swimmers, caught on handlines, in little over an hour. They named a beach in front of the viewing platform at Mallabula after him. He also held the record for the biggest crab – just under three feet (90cm) from nipper to nipper. Bimbo trumped in with a monster crab a few inches larger. His record still stands.

One morning as Bimbo cooked his catch on the foreshore (his boiler was made from a cut down stainless steel beer keg stolen from the Bowling Club) a city visitor happened along.

“Gee – whizz, look at all those crabs!! And the size of them!! I’d really like to see how you catch them – any chance of going out with you?”

Bimbo looked up and with his signature toothless grin replied, “Six o’clock tomorrow morning.”

The next day saw the two of them out in the bay running a line of traps. As the pile of crabs in the bottom of the boat grew larger, the city slicker could contain himself no longer. “I can’t believe this, what a haul!!

Again, Bimbo looked sideways at the bloke from Sydney.

“Mate, that’s nothing, wait ‘till we get to MY traps!!!”

Always in trouble for illegal blood worm digging and netting, Bimbo chalked up numerous fines and court appearances.

He was running his gill net one day in the corner of the bay at Mallabula when the dreaded fisheries inspector rounded the point and caught him red handed hauling in his net. 

Pulling up along side Bimbo’s boat he flashed his badge and, in a threatening voice, uttered just one word: “Fisheries!”

Bimbo dropped the net and in his gruff laconic voice replied: “What a relief! For a minute there I thought that you were the bloke who owned this net!

Most of the ‘one off’ characters like Billy and Bimbo are gone now. Those who miss them most are the fishing inspectors…….with little to do, they had to lay off staff.