Greet the Outdoors
  |  First Published: November 2010

Gearing up for a few trips north in November, I am filled with anticipation at getting my nostrils dusty and my arms stretched by a few finned critters. No doubt about it, when these pesky southeasters finally abate, we can be in for some hot fishing with many species congregating inshore and over shallow reef.

I don’t often gripe, but this complaint stems from the loss of another great Australian adventurer passing, Malcolm Douglas. With the original croc hunter turned conservationist joined with the likes of Harry Butler, the Leyland Brothers and Steve Irwin, let’s quickly analyse the message left behind.

These people did not advocate extreme paternalistic legislation which stripped people of their ability to interact with nature. Quite the opposite, they encouraged Australians to enjoy the outdoors and gain a better understanding of their surroundings. Something many of us are finding difficult under the heavy burden of red tape and bureaucratic job-creation.

The great Cape York Wilderness is an area which despite better access and modern technology, is increasingly more difficult to get around in.

To all those uninitiated, Cape York and much of the far north can be a rugged, dry and a very hot place to be come November. Roads are often corrugated, flies travel in numbers and our ever-favourite stingers (box jellyfish) begin to threaten the shallow waters of estuaries, bays and coastline throughout the Cape.

Besides the harsh conditions, visitors to Cape York in November need to consider the following if planning a trip to the area:

• The barramundi closed season starts on 1 November on the east and west coasts of northern Queensland;

• There are coral reef fin fish closures from 3-7 November, coinciding with the new moon;

• There is an array of Yellow, Green and Pink Zones covering the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park where regulations must be strictly adhered to (see http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/corp_site/management/zoning );

• There are alcohol restrictions and severe penalties for those who breach them over many areas of Cape York including: Aurukun, Bamaga, Hope Vale, Injinoo , Kowanyama , Lockhart River , Mapoon , Napranum , New Mapoon , Pormpuraaw , Seisia , Umagico , Wujal Wujal. These restrictions either ban or limit the amount and type of alcohol you can take into a community;

• Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning now covers somewhere in the vicinity of 30% of Cape York reefs. National Parks, wild river areas, land trusts and pastoral holdings combine to make up much of the remainder;

• Roads can close after serious rain this time of year. They can also be extremely rough; and,

• Box jellyfish are abundant.

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