Barra Base

Barra Base-Day two, The Saga Continues – 4th Sept


Our friendly guide, Mark, acknowledged our relatively short stay at the Base (most keen fishermen stay for 7-9 days!) and suggested we could go over to another river system for the day that isn’t often fished. That way we could spend the whole day out and not have to come back for lunch, in essence, more time on the water – YES!

We honestly were not terribly optimistic about blitzing the fishing again as we had had such a good days fishing previously, but we saw it as a good opportunity to see a bit more of the island. The hours’ ride at sunrise along the coast was beautiful (if a little bumpy), and as we rounded the last point, we discovered that the last section of beach was actually a very long, thin peninsula, no more than 50 feet wide.

We raced up through the mouth of the creek-beautifully clear water-and ran up the northern arm of the system. The water turned to a deep chocolate brown, so dark that it was hard to imagine that anything would want to swim around in it! We stopped at the junction of three creeks, tossed the anchor overboard, and cast out our lures
BANG, a Barra. I barely had time to breathe and already I was fighting a fish. This place is incredible, absolutely non-stop. To our delight, we managed to pull out a smorgasbord of fish from the rivers. We even caught one very lost Spanish mackerel up the river- obviously a very long and confused way from home!

Around midday when the sun was too hot, we decided to pull up on a beach for a break. Lunch was approaching and we had planned to light a fire and cook up a barra for lunch, We’d already caught five or so, but had released them all….friendly fisher people that we are.

It was looking as though our plans were to go astray. We started to make our way down the river. Maybe we’d be able to pick up some Mud Crabs on the flats instead. Mark spotted a likely looking snag, so we pulled up and Sarah tossed her lure at it a few times nothing.
“Go on Sarah have another cast and we’ll take off”. Wouldn’t you know it, the girl who had barely caught a fish in her life came through with the goods. A perfect Barra, just enough for lunch for three!

We ended up catching 40 Barramundi (30 of them in two hours anchored in the ONE magical spot!) and as many again of the multiple other species that also live in these rivers. The superlative highlight of the day was catching 90% of our fish(ies) with poppers and fizzers. These are a special type of lure that skims along the surface making a delicious “POP” sound as they stir up the water. The fish actually open their mouths up wide and lunge at them on the top of the water. Not only do you get to view the whole process clearly as they rise up out of the water… It also scares the daylights out of you when it happens right by the boat!!!!!!

There is such an abundance of food and flora to feed off on this island. What initially appears to the average observer as dry and harsh crocodile-infested mangrove, actually is an incredibly rich and diverse diet for the Tiwi Aborigines. They can survive alone on fish, feral pigs, bats, flying foxes, seashells, mangrove worms, mud crabs, crocodiles and berries and fruits from the trees. Basically, if it walks and moves, the Tiwi’s will either ingest it or find a use for it…..such resourceful people. It is great to see the Tiwi’s have managed to maintain their traditional hunting and gathering lifestyle. It is even more impressive because the land up here is quite austere. Between cyclones, the wet, crocs, stingers and other beasties the Tiwi’s just soldier on.

After two full days fishing in the sun, we were both deliriously happy, sunstruck and fished out. We also had been spoilt rotten by encountering an exorbitant number of fish. I fear it may have distorted our standards for the remainder of the trip.

We wearily caught the plane back to Darwin, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our son Joshua. He is flying up to meet us from Byron Bay. He’ll be party member number three for the next month or so. We’ve received a permit to enter Arnhem Land and we’re going to drive through Kakadu National Park up to the Coburg Peninsula and camp at Gurig National Park for a week. Only a select number of vehicles are permitted into this area… It’s rumoured to be superbly beautiful. We’re keen to set off tomorrow.

Ciao……Bon Nuit……..more tomorrow from Kakadu.

Roger, Over & Out ……………from Eric & Sarah

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