Post Script: Waterfront – Duncan McNab

Cover Waterfront


Duncan McNab

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733632518



The colourful and exciting story of the larger-than-life characters who have populated Australia’s docks, wharves and ports from the First Fleet to today – and the crime, violence and corruption that has always been present.


Ever since the First Fleet dropped anchor, Australia’s ports have been our opening to the world. They are also the breeding ground for many of Australia’s most notorious criminals, and a magnet for local and overseas criminal syndicates. WATERFRONT is the story of the crimes, the politics, the characters and the corruption in our nation’s ports.


From the time of Phillip and Bligh to today, from the gold rushes to modern-day drug smuggling, a criminal element has always found ways to profit from the rise and dominance of waterfront unions. After a century of Royal Commissions, reports, denials and crackdowns, crime and wrongdoing in Australia’s ports remains organised, entrenched and incredibly profitable.


Investigative journalist and former police detective Duncan McNab lifts the lid on the intriguing and chequered history of Australia’s waterfront.



My View:

Waterfront is an epic feat of research and writing that has surprised and confronted my somewhat romantic view of the history of the arrival of the First Fleet in Australia and life on the waterfront in general from then on. Before I go any further let me clarify what I mean when I say romantic view, I thought I was aware of the hardships and some of the challenges that the settlers of the First Fleet encountered – I had no idea of the reality as disclosed by McNab. My understanding of this period of history seems to have been somewhat simplified and whitewashed.


These were incredibly tough times, I cannot imagine how any one survived or even thrived in this environment, but some did and it is now evident to me hard work and dedication were not the only ingredients for success; manipulation, corruption, theft, coercion…lead the way. My eyes are now wide open. And so the story of corruption on the waterfront begins…


An intriguing look into the history, politics and the notorious larger than life individuals and members of organized crime gangs who have made the waterfront their own. McNab strikes a chord with me when he says in his final chapter “We’ve invested more time, effort and money in stopping boats full of people rather than gathering intelligence on, and penetrating the organised crime syndicates bringing in drugs like ice – labelled by the prime minister when announcing the task force as ‘a dreadful scourge’ and going on to state that ‘massive quantities of this pernicious and evil drug are coming into our country all the time.” (p.320) Well reported McNab.





6 thoughts on “Post Script: Waterfront – Duncan McNab

  1. Oh, this does sound rich and interesting, Carol! I find history fascinating as it is, and to take a look at life at the docks sounds fascinating. And my eyes could probably do with a bit of opening, too…

  2. This sounds really interesting and when it’s your home country that is being discussed I imagine that level of interest is even more profound. Though the subject matter affects of waterfront organised crime is something that affects all countries in todays world.

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