Andrew McDonald & Graeme Cashman

Andrew McDonald & Graeme Cashman, 19 April 2007
Ruth Maddison
Inkjet print
PXE 966/1

We bought the iceworks in 1993 off the men who set it up 20 years ago. Graeme had been working on rigs for ESSO. He got a redundancy pay-out and wanted to buy a business. When we started there was more fish coming into port – more boats taking more ice. Since then there’s half as many boats. The big boats used to bring 500–600 boxes. Now a good trip is 300 boxes. Every 90 boxes needs about 1 ton of ice to ice-down for market.

We’ve expanded the bagged ice for the tourist trade. That’s doubled in 10 years. It makes up for the loss in the fishing trade. We charge $70–80 a ton for the fishing industry, but $300 a ton for the tourist industry. There is more work to it – the bags, bagging up, delivery. It includes pubs and bottle shops, caravan parks, service stations, some supermarkets. And some of that is seasonal too. We’ve started to take ice further afield. Always done Mallacoota, but now we go to Cann River, Jindabyne, Tilba, Bermagui. We run a two-ton freezer van and a four-ton freezer truck.

We work too many hours. We’re virtually on call from 5.30 am until 6 pm, and weekends between 6 am and 12 noon. But if a boat comes into port in the afternoon we can’t turn them away. They want to unload, ice-up, and get back to sea. We’re pretty good to them. If the fishing industry was in a better state we’d be getting $20–30 more a ton. The day will come when we’ll have to up the charges anyway. We need to up the income so we can employ someone and spend more time with family.

I was an abalone diver between 1996 and 2003. I came up one day with bad chest pains. We were in Mallacoota. I collapsed and lost feeling in my legs. I was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital after six hours in a decompression tank. Turned out I’d had a hole in the heart since birth. Should never have been diving. MRIs discovered I’d had a stroke a few years earlier. I’d never known. When I thought about it, I remembered one day having an extreme headache while I was diving. It got fixed. Now I’ve got a titanium patch, but no more diving.