Illawarra Maritime Industries

This project seeks to understand the historical context which underpins contemporary economies, cultures and practices. This understanding has a powerful explanatory role but also helps to identify and harness new opportunities to build local economies and enhance sustainability.

This scoping project has been developed to explore the role of maritime histories in informing the current social and cultural landscape of the Illawarra, and its potential to create new opportunities for the region. It will initially focus on the history of commercial fishing in the Wollongong area; however future stages would seek to expand to other maritime industries and to the South Coast region.


The team

Michael Adams (ASSH) is Associate Professor in Human Geography with research on Indigenous-environment relationships including governance and policy. Recent work engages with human-ocean relationships. His role is to facilitate relationships between communities and agencies including national parks, supervision of Freya’s role, and further explore embodied engagements with local oceans.

Freya Croft (ASSH) is a PhD candidate (HDR) in SGSC. Her current research is looking at the role of storytelling and cultural representations in fostering engagement in ocean conservation. Her Honours project (History) examined the ways in which documentary films contribute to the historical narrative - with a particular focus on history in the Illawarra. She will be the research assistant for this project.

Michelle Voyer (BAL) is a VC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (ECR) with a background in research into the social aspects of marine conservation and marine industries, including the NSW commercial fishing industry. She will coordinate and provide linkages with other current and potential Blue Economy projects in the University.

Glenn Mitchell (ASSH) is a historian with an interest in environmental history and Indigenous and migrant history. He is an expert on the history of the Illawarra. His role will be to assist and advise the research assistant on archival and historical sources.

Frances Steel (ASSH) is a Senior Lecturer in History with research interests in the maritime history of Australia, New Zealand and the wider Pacific. She is the NSW Representative of the Australian Association for Maritime History. Her role in this project will be archival analysis and preparation of publications, and developing linkages with the Maritime Museum.

James Reveley (BAL) has expertise in maritime business history, and has published widely in this area on topics such as shipping business associations and path dependence in port development. His role is to assess the quality and quantity of archival materials that are relevant to the project, and to explore the possibility for publications using these materials.

Jade Kennedy is a Yuin man from the Illawarra and South Coast of NSW. He has been privileged with intimate knowledges of his people’s customs, culture and Country and has for the past 16 years worked within various roles at UOW. He will play a cultural liaison role in the project.

Candice Visser (BAL) is a PhD candidate (HDR) with ANCORS whose current research concentrates on marine resources and legal concerns. Her role will be to advise on the influence of regulation on maritime histories and assist in the development of the outreach materials and final workshop.

Duncan Leadbitter is a Visiting Fellow at ANCORS and has been involved in the sustainable seafood movement internationally and in Australia for over twenty years. He and a colleague are developing a social enterprise called Happy Fish which aimed to support and promote local and sustainable seafood.

Sandra Pires is an award winning local documentary maker who has developed a mobile app focusing on local history. ‘Yesterday Stories’ is an innovative tool collecting history via 2-3 minute video histories of an area where people can upload, interact and enjoy content in their local area or as a tourist see the history of the areas they are travelling in.



This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth .  Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals