In 1980, my parents built a home in Saratoga where they to this day they still live. Growing up in Saratoga, the waterfront was a huge part of my life. From about 1995 (I was 10 years old) I was riding my bike down to the waterfront with my fishing rod and bucket so I could fish off the wharf. Without a doubt, I would ride home with at least 1 decent-sized fish in my bucket each weekend.
The biggest ‘fish’ I saw come out of the water from the wharf was a stingray that a guy caught. It would have easily been over a metre in diameter and took him over 30 minutes to reel in. At first, we all thought it was a massive flathead, so you can imagine his disappointment when he saw it was a stingray. My brother and I caught so many different types of fish there, each weekend was a mystery as to what we were going to catch. One weekend it was flathead and bream, the next it was garfish, tailor and the odd leather jacket.
My brother had a little 12-foot tinny that we occasionally took out in Brisbane Water. If we were doing that, we would put our poddy mullet traps near the stormwater drains on the left side of the wharf. These would quickly fill up and we would have our bait sorted for the fishing trip. It was then straight out to Paddy’s Channel to see if we could catch some flatties.
There used to be a smaller wharf beside the main wharf which was good for catching flathead and whiting. I can’t recall exactly when this smaller wharf was dismantled, but the best guess would be around 1995. As soon as it was taken down, the channel to the boat ramp was dredged to allow bigger boats to come in.
For as long as I can remember, the boatshed has always been there but not utilised. There were always small boats up on the bank, but I never actually saw anyone in the boat shed. After talking to a friend, they mentioned the boatshed is actually owned by a resident that lives across the road and since the house was sold a few years back, the boatshed has since been renovated with a fresh coat of paint and a hand railing.
The foreshore was also upgraded with a sandstone wall and concrete path at some stage in the early 2000s. Aluminium picnic tables were installed later replacing the old wooden tables which were then changed back to wooden tables.
Around 2002 (could be totally off) the access between Patrick Cres and the park was blocked off due to a new home being built, however, for a while after people were still walking around the back of the property to access the park. The alternative route was to go through the laneway and then around to the park.
The waterfront is a convenient and large area for people to meet so between ‘02 – ‘04 there were some pretty cool parties there, a few of which were broken up by Police purely for the fact there were about 100 half-drunk underage kids walking around the streets. You could pretty much guarantee to see someone you knew down there if you went down there on a Friday or Saturday night.
It would have been around 2005 when I stopped riding my bike around the streets of Saratoga due to finishing my studies and getting a job down in Sydney. It seemed a lot happened to the park after that time. A new playset was installed and with this, the big old slippery dip was removed. The small timber fence was replaced with a larger wood fence that spans the perimeter of the park and offers more safety for kids. The original toilet block is still standing though. We used this as a fort for our water bomb fights in the summer.
I have very fond memories of growing up in Saratoga, I just wish I had taken more photos as a kid.