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What is magnet fishing? Treasure hunters say it’s an activity that’s taking off especially for kids

Most kids are happy to watch cartoons online, but six-year-old Memphis Marshall, who has autism, enjoys watching magnet fishing.

The pastime involves pulling metal scraps out of rivers and docks using magnets attached to a rope — a cross between treasure hunting and saving the environment.

Memphis’s dad, Jason Marshall, a social worker, says the activity keeps his son engaged.

“Because of his autism, a lot of kids see that he is different, and he gets a bit upset with that, Mr Marshall said.

“So I try to find things outside of the box for him to do, which is how magnet fishing started.”

The Marshalls, who live in Berkeley, near Wollongong, try to keep Memphis as active as possible, but the cold of winter deters him, and he doesn’t want to leave the house.

Magnet fishing has been the magic pull to draw him out.

Side photo of bald man, red hoodie, grey shorts, black boots, boy, denim shorts, grey, white hoodie, hood up, fishing at pier.
The Marshalls enjoy a spot of magnet fishing in Lake Illawarra.(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)
“He’s been watching magnet fishing online. It’s an activity that’s very popular in Europe,” Mr Marshall said.

“I don’t have the funds to buy him a ‘you beaut’ magnet, so I just put two speaker magnets together and took him down to the local jetty.”

Much to the father-son duo’s surprise, they pulled out four bikes and then got an e-bike at a jetty near the yacht club.

“He hooks them with the magnet and drags them up, and I’m the one who has to drag them up onto the jetty and leave them near the bins so they don’t end up back in the water again,” Mr Marshall said.

A magnet hangs on a rope, blue sea in the background.
Magnet fishing requires the use of strong magnets, a bit of rope and a bucket.(ABC Illawarra: Sarah Moss)
“The little magnets you can buy off eBay, they don’t even hold a bike.

“You need heavy-duty magnets, which are ordered from overseas. They are also very expensive.”

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