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Abalone Pioneers:
The untold stories of the Victorian Western Zone Divers

Author: Rhonda Whitton and Liz Doran

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Abalone Pioneers is the Australian story of the divers, deckhands, researchers and processors who established and developed the zone’s abalone industry, from the amateur fishermen of the 1950s and the hazy crazy tribe of ‘scruffy longhairs’, who were attracted by the hedonistic lifestyle and fantastic profits in the 1960s, to the professional enterprise of today. It charts the development of the Victorian Western Abalone Divers Association and its role managing and protecting the Victorian Western Zone’s resources, and explores the successful diver-led commercial processors.

Illustrated with over 100 historical photographs and featuring over 50 interviews, Abalone Pioneers is an exuberant and fascinating account of the establishment of one of Australia’s valuable but little-known fisheries.

Abalone is one of Australia’s more valuable commercial fisheries, producing about 40 per cent of the world’s wild-stock harvest, and a significant part of that is found off the coast of southwest Victoria, in what is known as the Western Zone. 

Rhonda Whitton

Rhonda Whitton

Rhonda Whitton is a well-published journalist and writer, and has published three titles (seven books) related to the writing industry. She taught writing and public relations/marketing for 11 years. Rhonda assists writers to get their manuscript to a publishable standard and also conducts corporate training related to writing. She first tasted abalone 40 years ago.

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Liz Doran

Liz Doran

Liz Doran was born in Brisbane Queensland but was educated in Geelong Victoria, graduating from Deakin University in 1988. Much of her teenage years were spent in Torquay where she met her future husband who was working on an abalone boat as a sheller/deckhand for the legendary diver Gary ‘Ten Bins’ Watson. The many stories of the exploits of the abalone divers of the sixties and seventies sparked an interest in the history of the abalone industry.

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