This brings me to one of the most difficult matters that has to be dealt with in considering the fish supply of any great city. For you may have the most extensive deep-sea fisheries, you may have the most rapid transit of the fish to town, and you may have the most commodious fish markets; but if you have no proper means of distributing the fish to the public the whole scheme falls to the ground. At present the system both in Sydney and in Melbourne is to have the one principal fish market (there are now two in Sydney, by the way), from which all supplies for the public are derived. Of course it is perfectly competent for the latter to obtain their purchases in the early morning at the time when the sales are conducted; but, on the other hand, the hour is exceedingly inconvenient, and, as a general rule, the lots are too large for the private buyer.
Hence the distribution of fish depends almost wholly upon the costermonger or basket-man, who takes his fish round to the public. The basket-man, or costermonger, or dealer - call him what you will - is an indispensable personage, and what is more, he fills a most useful office. It is true that he is given to making strange outcries, and that he is at times boisterous in speech. Yet, notwithstanding these things, he is a valuable member of society, and personally I have a very great respect for him. Indeed, I am certain that he is the food-bearer to many homes, and people would otherwise be put to very great straits in obtaining their supplies. Our friend, however, has usually a long round to travel before he can make a good living, and perhaps he is unable to cope with the requirements of his large district.
It is on account of these difficulties, therefore, that I recognise the value of the French method of distribution, for besides the Halles Centrales, or principal markets, in Paris, there are in all nearly sixty local provision markets where it is possible to obtain, under cover - in all weathers and at any time - whatever is required. It is most desirable that something of this kind should be adopted in Australia. At least it is quite certain that every suburb should possess its own local market. This need not attempt to rival the central depot, but take rank as a local necessity.