In this last instalment of our Gulf Adventures, we head from Lawn Hill to Karumba in search of the allusive Barra – well, any fish really!
Phenomenal fishing is what any Gulf adventurer is looking for. Like life, some days it’s great and other days it simply ain’t! We’d tried to fish in several locations along this trip and one undersized fish at Lorella Springs was all that we had managed to hook. Everyone said the fish were biting, right up until we threw in a line!
I was trying hard to get Jane a decent eating fish to feed her growing passion, so we decided if we had no luck before reaching Karumba then it was a fishing charter to be sure. Well that is what transpired and what a great decision that turned out to be. Jane got the first fish, the biggest fish and the most fish out of the five of us on the charter, with me coming in a close second. I think I’ve let loose a monster.
We walked away with a huge catch of silver backs, blue nose salmon and school mackerel, and after borrowing some cleaning gear, we filleted them all with help from Peter, our travelling companion. It was fresh, delicious fish all round that night, plus we gave fish to the good folks that lent us the cleaning gear and snap froze the rest to bring home.
The picturesque run from Adels Grove to Gregory Downs was pretty smooth for the most part, although there were some heavily corrugated sections and plenty of traffic going both ways, including big off-road vans.
Gregory Downs is a great little spot with camping down near the Gregory River. The iconic pub was built in the 1900s as a stop for coaches on the run to Burketown and we had a great chat with the publican (Jo) over a cold beer, listening to her history and a little background on the pub and surrounding area. There is also a great little coffee-house-come-general-store run out of a shipping container, well worth a visit for their tasty brew.
This town offers travellers all the supplies they could need. I have to admit the Barra pies were so good that Jane grabbed a second one to take away and freeze for later.
We fuelled up, stocked the pantry and as mentioned had a yummy lunch before heading out of town to visit the Landsborough Tree, an important marker for a variety of reasons, including the staging point for the search organised from Victoria to find Burke and Wills Cairn.
Travellers could spend plenty of time here in Burketown, and as we waved goodbye we marked it as a spot to return to and explore in detail.
All I can say about this place is that it is stun-ning! I want to go back in the Wet as these falls would be awe-inspiring. We camped on the north-east side of the falls well above the waterline due to the possibility of Salties lurking in the deeper sections. Jane also tried her hand at fishing here but with no luck!
The north-west side of the falls also has a lot of camp spots on the cliffs; it’s such a pretty place that I can see why it’s so popular. Walking over the rocky falls we spied two freshies sunning themselves, one on the rocks and the other just under the surface in full sun!
Burke & Wills Cairn
The ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition of 1860-61 was a problem from the start, with bad weather in Melbourne slowing the trip down, and then nothing seemed to go well from top to bottom. A short drive off the Savannah Way is a fascinating tribute to Burke and Wills. It’s a place to reflect on how harsh crossing this country from bottom to top and back again was back in 1860. This is just one of many highlights to explore on this trip.
I loved the laid-back style and feel of Normanton on the Norman River and although it was choccas full of tourists when we were there, there was still a cosy feel to the place.
There’s a lot of history in this town, from the statue of the giant croc some 8.63m long shot by local identity Krystina Pawlowski to the famous Gulflander railway. The town’s architecture is also a highlight, and of course who could go past a cold beverage at the purple pub!
I have to say this was my second visit to Karumba, which is divided into two sections – the main town area on the Norman River and the settlement on the Karumba Point Beach which faces into the Gulf.
There’s plenty to see and do at Karumba from Barra tours to river and ocean fishing, bird watching and more.
Sitting at the point, enjoying a coldie and a feast of seafood while watching the sunset is definitely a highlight for any Gulf Adventure.
I can honestly say this first crossing of the Gulf of Carpentaria is not going to be my last. There is simply too much to see and do and not enough time to do it. I can’t wait to head back with a boat in tow and plenty of spare time on my hands to help Jane continue her passion for catching and eating fish!