Folklore isn’t Fiction

In the barrel

Folklore isn’t Fiction

Shark Island- The name behind the icon.

We have all heard folklore from time to time, explaining the many mysteries in our past. However, never had we heard one that strikes so close to home.
Shark Island is an iconic reef situated just past The Point, near Cronulla Beach. The Island gains its surfing reputation from the relentless barrels, sucking and heaving over the often too shallow reef. A hot spot for surfers and bodyboarders, The Island holds a bodyboarding event every year, named The Shark Island Challenge The Shark Island Challenge (recently held) entices professional bodyboarders from around the world to navigate the impossibly complex wave.

This all being true. Often may leave many of us to ponder. How did this very famous, world renowned break come to be named shark island? Well, despite the literal meaning, it may not be because there is an abundance of sharks around the infamous reef.

This tale may have spawned from conversation as long as 50 or more years ago when immigration from Europe was booming. Two sets of European families sought to establish themselves and make a living in Cronulla. Both the Duranti and Casaceli families, teamed up to explore the reef off shore to see what they might find. To their fortune, there on the semi dry reef at low tied, lay an abundance of fresh seafood on the rock, in cracks and pot holes. The families revelled with their culinary finds, enjoying many seafood parties from their harvesting.

The query was? How would they keep the reef’s prosperity a secret? If everyone was to head out the Island and find what they had discovered, the supply would just not cope. When quizzed about the origin of these foods, the Island was mentioned, YES, quickly followed up with a strong mention of the abundance of sharks sighted around the waters off the island. Those who wished to try to venture are welcome to take on the sharky risk. We aren’t sure which family came up with the idea but it was brilliant, hence the rocky outcrop being named, from that day on SHARK ISLAND.

Today descendants of the families still remain in Cronulla. Just who is responsible for the name, is a part of our local folklore. Or is it?


Stuart Paterson

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