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On the water with David Bigg

On the water with David Bigg

When the Bounty mutineers found their way to Pitcairn Island, one of their first acts was to burn the Bounty to avoid detection. The community was soon to realise, however, that possession of seaworthy craft was to be important to their survival on a remote island. In the ensuing years, on both Pitcairn and Norfolk islands, the descendants of those mutineers have enjoyed a strong bond with the ocean and with boats.

David Bigg is an island family-man who traces his roots back to both Fletcher Christian and Matthew Quintal of the Bounty. David earns his living from the sea and his boat, and like many Norfolk Islanders, he feels both a fondness and a respect for the ocean, and believes it has shaped the Norfolk Island community in many ways. “It is part of who we are” he declares.

He also gives credit to his beloved Nan, Beattie Bigg, for teaching him to fish. When he was a young boy, Beattie would gather up her grandchildren in her small car and head down the hill to Cemetery Beach, with a big bundle of homemade bamboo rods projecting out of the carwindow. After a couple of hours of fishing from the rocks, they would build a small fire, fry their catch in a pan, and enjoy the experience of eating the freshest seafood possible! David recalls with a smile that their return journey was always via Middlegate, so they could pressure Beattie into buying them all an ice cream for dessert. “For our grandparents,” says David, “fishing was more than recreation. It was about putting food on the table, and survival.”

Another of David’s early memories is being taken to the pier when the fishing boats had come in at the end of the day, and seeing piles of freshly caught fish everywhere. “That really captured my imagination” says David “and I decided that I wanted to be part of that scene one day.” David’s dad Archie, later got hold of a small dinghy, and David and his brothers learned the delights of “messing about in boats.” With those early foundations, he gradually built up skills and seafaring knowledge. There was some mentoring from the older generations of fishermen, but David found that learning the best fishing spots and developing a proper respect for the ocean and its many moods is something you can only master for yourself.

David knew for sure that his life was going to revolve around boats and fishing from an early age and its no surprise to him or anyone that knows him that he has now been operating his own fishing, trekking and scenic tours business, Charter Marine, for over 20 years.

David believes that many visitors coming to an island look for an opportunity to experience ocean-related activities, such as round the Island scenic trips and fishing expeditions, and he has sought to cater for these needs and to enhance the holiday experience for many in this way.

Early in his career, David had the opportunity to take on work for Parks Australia, transporting personnel and equipment out to neighbouring Phillip Island, 7km to the South of Norfolk Island. It became apparent that many of our more adventurous visitors also enjoy the experience of taking a trip to this offshore island, and seeing first hand the abundant bird life and natural vegetation. So David arranged to operate guided Phillip Island Treks which have have become very popular and an important part of ocean-going and adventurous itineraries.

David’s vessel, Amberjac, is a Norfolk-built boat that is the name of a fish, related to Kingfish, caught mainly in the seas around Central America and parts of the Pacific, and occasionally in Norfolk waters. The name honours the two most important people in David’s life – his daughter Amber and wife Jacqui. Amberjac has become a valuable part of the Charter Marine business, offering a quality experience to visitors, as well as providing a valuable service to locals.

David prides himself on his reputation as the most professional and reliable charter on Norfolk Island and his long and established career on Norfolk’s waters. He has gained an unrivalled expertise and extensive knowledge of Norfolk’s seas, that is inspired by his passion for his island home, and it is greatly appreciated by visitors. David sums it all up: “As Norfolk Islanders, the ocean is very important to us. It is in our blood. It is wonderful to be able to share the experience with our visitors. I count myself just so fortunate to be able to earn my living doing something I love!”


David Bigg operates Charter Marine and offers Fishing, Trekking and Scenic Trips. Feature article adapted from ‘Amberjac’ by Mary Christian-Bailey for YourWorld publication.


Image Credit: Image supplied for use by Charter Marine


Article content disclaimer: Article first published in Discover Norfolk, Volume 05 Issue 01, 2021. Please note that details of specific travel, accommodation and touring options may be outdated. References to people, places and businesses, including operating days and times may be have changed. References to Government structure and Government businesses/entities may no longer be applicable. Please check directly with businesses and/or Government websites directly rather than relying on any information contained in this article before you make travel arrangements.



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