As mentioned by Brendan, we finally made it to the tip of our great country. While it wasnt exactly a life changing event, the experience of getting there and back again has certainly had quite an effect on our little trio.
Whilst visiting the tip we decided to base ourselves in Punsand Bay which is the northernmost camp area with some semblance of facilities. This included a rather dodgy looking aboveground swimming pool and being that the days were getting hotter and hotter and the surrounding ocean is (apparently) filled with all manner of man eating beasties, we gladly took advantage of its chest height, ice cold waters on more than one occasion.
Other than the big trek to the top, most of our time here was spent relaxing. River even managed to make friends with a little girl her age from the neighbouring campsite. We did make the effort to drive into the nearest town to attend church on Sunday (and buy a new souvenier tea towl to add to my ever growing collection). It was a small service run by an Islander ex-pat, and much to Brendan’s dismay, we were not the only white folks attending. An older couple and their daughter and son-in-law, originally from Brisbane, had decided to take up teaching positions in the local state and high schools. Between them, they had been in the area for a total of 2.5 years and said they couldnt be happier for making the move. We got to know one another over a cuppa after church and picked up some great advice on fishing in the area which would change our plans, and all for the better!!
Our original plan was to head back down towards the Jardine River, spend a few nights trying to catch some crabs, then continue over to the western side of the Cape to a small Aboriginal community know as Pormpuraaw. They run their own commercial croc farm which Brendan was super keen to get a look at. We had our whole return planned to the day. With flights to Sydney booked and paid for we really couldnt afford to dawdle…
All it took was 4 little words thrown casually into the conversation…
“You like to fish?” they asked us. At first we weren’t sure if it was a trick question. But they continued on with their advice. Jardine River is ok, better for crabbing but only if you have a boat really so you can get to the sweet spots. If it’s a bit of sport and some really big fish you are after, the wharf at Seisia is the place to be.
So of course we forgot all about our carefully structured and well laid out plans and head straight for Seisia Caravan park the very next day.
Within hours, as soon as camp was set and we had some food in our bellies we geared up and headed down to beach to check out the wharf. When we arrived we were a little disappointed to see the whole area fenced off. We could see people up there throwing in lines but just couldn’t work out how to get to them. With our spirits slightly dampened we moved down to the beach and threw a couple of lines in under the wharf instead, see if we could wait it out and watch for someone else using a secret entryway or something that we might be able to follow later on.
Within 10 minutes of arrival our spirits were lifted however. I felt the tiniest little pull on my line and of course being an over excited girl fishermen I yanked at it straight away. Was lucky I did too because on the end of it was a beautiful 30cm Queen fish!! And that was just the beginning. 2 casts later and I had another on the line, bigger this time and even more exciting to pull in, jumping into the air trying to get away from my line. I won of course. Alas, as we weren’t 100% sure of the legal size for these beauties we returned them both with the promise to be back tomorrow for some more fun and games.
Back at camp Brendan got chatting to our neighbours. John, a travelling retiree, and his son Luke, on holiday from Melbourne, had been there a few days already and yes, there was a secret entry way on to the wharf. If you went through the car park around the side there was a walkway open for public use. And the even better news was that if you had a net or bait jig there were hundreds of bait fish gathered around the pylons, just waiting to help you out with your next catch. They also had a few stories from the previous day that involved their 80 pound metal trace being stretched and frayed in a battle with what I can only guess was Loch Ness herself up here on holiday. After dinner we grabbed our gear and went to investigate.
To say it was busy was an understatement. Every section of the wharf that didn’t have a pole in the way had a line coming off it. We managed to squeeze into a spot on one side and Brendan cracked out the pilchards as we hadn’t had a chance to get to the shops for a bait jig. I hooked up the other line and decided to try my luck with the squid you could see floating past. Plenty of action there but I just couldn’t pull the rascals in. They would get half way up, realise what was going on and drop the line. Oh well.
Brendan was slightly more successful and managed to pull in a small fingermark which went quite well with our pasta. We slept well that night with the memory of our success and the thought of a similar day to follow.
Our dreams were not unfounded either. After heading straight to the tackle store to get a bait jig, another early afternoon spent at the beach pulled us in a big Queeny each. We didn’t even have to wait this time. As soon as Brendan’s bait hit the water he had a fish on the line. We were going to throw it back but the look on one of the locals faces made us think twice so we offered it to him who in turn offered it to a couple of local girls and they took it gladly. We moved up to the wharf for a short while but after a little incident involving me, live bait on a hook and a seabird that swallowed a bit more than he could chew, I decided a little break was in order and so headed back to camp with River in tow for some snooze time before dinner.
At sunset we headed back over to the wharf to see if we couldn’t improve our luck. At least the birds would be gone! At first it was a bit dull. Neither one of us was having any luck. Not even a nibble. As it got darker however the people around us started to get a bit of action so while Brendan went to put River to bed I stayed up on the wharf with our neighbours John and Luke and kept on trying. I decided to change position and move up the opposite end of the wharf. A decision I am extremely glad to have made.
With some fresh bait on the line I cast off and waited, not expecting much to be honest so it was quite a shock when all of a sudden there was a massive pull on the line so strong it left a deep burn on my finer and almost pulled the rod out of my hands! What a fight!! It took me a good 5 minutes but I finally managed to get the monster right in near the wharf. He was a whopper! Im guessing at least 1m (possible exaggeration) and HEAVY!!! From what I could see in the water he was nice and silver with the markings of either another big Queeny or perhaps a school mackerel. I had to take a little break just to catch my breath and it was during this time that Luke politely leaned over and said “hope you’ve got a metal trace on that thing”. I wanted to cry. Sure enough, as soon as I started to lift the body out of the water my 30 pound line began to stretch and eventually snapped.
To say I was disappointed would be quite an understatement. I was just glad there were witnesses so I could prove to Brendan that a) Jaws really does exist and b) I almost caught him!!! I ran straight back to camp to inform Brendan of my (almost) achievement and let him go for a shot. Sadly for Brendan I must have filled Jaws’ belly with my bait (and hook) and he decided not to bite anymore that night.
We spent the next day exploring the area, checking out some of the WWII plane wrecks around the place. Pretty amazing stuff to see. If you can pull yourself away from the fish for long enough the area has quite a bit of War history worth looking at. River and I were so exhausted from all our wandering during the day that we headed to bed early that night while Brendan headed off to the wharf (on a Jaws taming expedition).
My heart nearly stopped beating when I woke up at 1am and Brendan still hadn’t returned! My first thought was “he’s been pulled in by a fish and eaten by a shark or a croc or both at the same time!!” My second thought was he’d fallen into trouble with some locals and was lying in a gutter somewhere beaten and broken. I quickly bundled a sleeping River into my arms and started heading for the water… only to be greeted by a man that looked a whole lot like Brendan, but with the world’s biggest smile on his face! The look on his face was the only thing that saved him from my “I thought you were dead and decaying” wrath that was about to pour forth from my mouth. He was like a school boy that has just been kissed by the most popular girl in class. It was rather cute actually.
He didn’t have any fish but he did have quite a few big hits just like me and Jaws. He had his rod bent back on itself and one of our best lures taken in the fight.
Alas, the time was ticking away from us and we really needed to get moving so we said goodbye to Seisia and headed west to Weipa. Not as far out as we had originally planned to go but with our little detour we didn’t really have the capacity anymore. Along the way we stopped for a picnic lunch at Fruit Bat Falls where we enjoyed a dip in the refreshing, croc free water. We also headed out to Twin (Elliot) Falls for a look around. Both spots were particularly beautiful and a welcome stop off.
We spent a few nights in Weipa catching up on some work and fishing (unsuccessfully this time) before continuing South to Coen again. We stayed at the same spot again and met some quite possibly the nicest Tasmanians in the country. They helped us chop fire wood, offered to let us stay at their place in Tassie, shared their wine and spent the evening sitting around the fire telling stories about where they used to live in New Zealand and about the jerk that drove past too fast earlier in the day, throwing rocks everywhere and smashing their windscreen. They probably would have made us dinner too if we hadn’t already started cooking. We really enjoyed the company and will most definitely be looking them up once we make it to that part of the world.
Another day of driving (including possibly the worst overnight stop ever with ground of solid rock that bent most of our pegs and a generator next to our tent that didn’t turn off all night) and we were back in Cairns ready to return home for 2 weeks.
And so the Batty’s have conquered the east coast! Hurrah! Until next time, enjoy the gallery here
B, A & R