Barra Base Bound! Darwin to Bathurst Island – 3rd September
So…….we’re at the Top End at long last! Destination Darwin- Mission achieved- the largest city up at this end of the continent. Perhaps it’s our vivid imaginations, perhaps it’s just harsh reality, but it feels REALLY hot up here. We’re slipping, slopping, and slapping left, right and centre, in a mammoth effort to protect ourselves from the cruel and relentless big, yellow, melanoma bearing sun.
Darwin as a city offers you the normal things any city of its size would; only it dishes everything up with a certain dose of bland boredom. People are friendly yet seem somewhat unenthused by life. Perhaps a constant assault by the heat 365 days of the year takes its toll in the general aura of lethargy that inhabits the city…………
Nevertheless, Darwin is a city that lies in close proximity to some of our top tourist destinations namely Kakadu National Park and the Red Centre. We drove straight into Darwin because we’re going out to Bathurst Island (just North of Darwin) for a spot of fishing at “The Barra Base”(being basically a very basic beach front bungalow style abode for berzerk fishermen obsessed with bobbing bait and lures in an attempt to catch the mighty Barramundi).
N.B.We are meeting our son Joshua on the 6th of September- he’ll be joining us for a portion of our travels and we can’t wait to see him! Anyway…..we’ll be stopping to check out Kakadu etc with him in a week…..so stay tuned then for our updates on the park and surrounding attractions.
After a shaky and small plane ride, we arrived at the Barra Base, Bathurst Island. The most striking thing that one notices from the air is that the island is totally undeveloped. Bathurst Island is owned by the Tiwi People- a group of Aboriginal Islanders. The Barra Base too (which is simply basic accommodation and meals for up to 20 guests and fishing guides) is owned and run by the Tiwis.
A stay at the Base affords one an insane dose of undiluted fishing from dawn to dusk and a chance to explore and meet some Tiwi’s and learn about their land and culture. With a friendly guide (who probably emerged from the womb with a rod in his hand) the day is spent trolling, casting, bait fishing, and hunting for mud crabs whilst exploring the waters around the island. Muchos fun!
There is a healthy catch and release policy so the boats only keep fish necessary to feed the troops each night. This is no major kill and grill type establishment! Upon arrival, we found ourselves at the dinner table as the other 4 guests recounted their days fishing adventures in minute detail.
From their recounts, it seemed apparent that we were not going to be catching a lot of Barramundi. Things were pretty quiet. Feeling slightly out of the action and unable to contribute in any way to a conversation that revolved only around fishing and fishing alone…we meekly slid off to our bunk beds scratching our newly brewing sand fly bites……..
We awoke early the next morning-(actually you have no choice…the boats leave at 7:30 am) eager to head out for our first days fishing, not really knowing what to expect but nevertheless hopeful. Eager to fulfil the chefs demand to “bring back something for dinner” and aware of the need to talk with the other guests at the dinner table we set out to fish…..
and fish we did!!!!!!
From the word go we were onto a good thing. First catch of the day and Sarah’s very first real fish ever(!!!!!!), was a magnificent 31-pound Jewfish…..quickly followed by many other species including a large shark. There is something amazing about bringing in a large fish, shaking their fins, then letting them swim away.
Unless you’re out for the whole day- all boats head back for lunch at the base- a quick hour out of the sun, refuel and re-energise before continuing again until dark.
After lunch, we were straight back out again- this time up the rivers casting for Barramundi. The creeks delivered the goods- amongst many shrieks, giggles, delirium and precision casting we landed a lot of Barramundi. Grand day total 16 Barra! Not the sandflies, mozzies, marsh flies, or pushing the boat over the mud flats were going to stop us. We deliriously speeded back to Base past herons, sea eagles, cranes and ibises as a magical sunset dropped into the ocean.
As could be expected dinnertime conversation consisted of a re-telling with much melodrama of fishing adventures du jour! We managed to bend some noises out of joint- having caught 16 Barramundi and the largest jewfish of the week. One particular fellow took exception to us- seems that for him no one else could possibly fish better…..
To be honest, we were as surprised as the other guests were profoundly disturbed by the fact that we had managed to catch so many fish. The competitive edge rears its ugly head even at the jovial Barra Base. We giggled to ourselves back in our room- Top End Top Fishing…….this place is fun!!!!!!!!