Somerset Dam is famed for its bass fishing, especially at this time of year, so it seems timely to have a look at winter camping facilities around the dam.
Having already reviewed most at the northern end of the impoundment in a previous issue, I will take a look at the fairly large and very quiet camping facilities at the southern end of the town.
Somerset Dam is only five minutes drive from the Spit and it has excellent picnic and launching facilities with a cleaning table.
Somerset Park camping area is located on the southern outskirts of the Somerset Dam town and is nestled between the Esk/Kilcoy Road and the old Stanley River bed that carries water to Lake Wivenhoe in the south.
If travelling from the north, look for the camp grounds on the right just as you leave the service station and food outlet on the southern end of town. If travelling from either Esk or from the road on the east side of Wivenhoe Dam past Splityard Creek impoundment, the camp ground’s entrance sign will be on the right a little distance before the aforementioned retail outlet as you reduce speed to enter town.
These camp grounds are very quiet; the only night sounds are the sound of water in the river bed below or the sound of a koala’s grunting in one of the many trees adorning the area.
Apart from peak times, such as Christmas holidays and the Easter weekend, camping is usually on a first-in-best-dressed basis. Exceptions are rare but if an area is marked out with plastic witch’s hats that area has been reserved for another group at that time.
That small restriction aside, campers will find plenty of well grassed areas to set up camp throughout the entire area with some concrete pads for caravans at the southern end not far from the very well kept toilet and shower block. A shower requires a dollar coin to set the hot water in motion but, trust me, on a cold night it is a great investment in comfort.
Main additional features of the camp grounds are some shelter sheds and barbecues, plenty of fire places for a warm up at night, and the general ambience that comes with staying in an area that is not dominated by signage outlining a lot of rules and restrictions.
These grounds are spacious and offer ample room for groups to enjoy each other’s company without intruding on other people nearby. It really is a nature lover’s paradise with koalas about the place, beautiful parrots in the many trees throughout the grounds, plus the sight of the magnificent hills all around. It’s country camping at its best; but with infrastructure handy.
In short the atmosphere is very laid back. The on-site manager’s van is only manned at peak periods but campers might expect a visit from park managers Geoff and Julie of an evening to collect the small fees payable. The couple also manage a multi bedroom house in town for groups wanting to stay with a more substantial roof over the head.
Somerset Dam is a small town but campers will find the retail outlets handy for grocery items, cold drinks, ice, gas, fuel and other necessities. I will vouch for the quality of the burgers and coffee from the store directly across the road from the camp ground.
Stocked Impoundment Permits are available, as is a small amount of fishing tackle, bait for red claw pots and other items.
Somerset Dam is a bass angler’s Mecca, and this month and September are some of the best months to tackle these fish. There are also other fish, such as golden and silver perch, eel tailed catfish and the ubiquitous tilapia also present.
Bass can be taken successfully on a wide range of flies [check out Wayne’s fly article this month – Ed] and lures, especially the lipless crankbait or blade styles of lures that can get down to the depths required to interest these fish. The old faithful ice jig also catches its share of bass despite being around for years.
Trolling is another method that works well. Using a deep diving lure will give the best results and working ends of points is a good tactic.
And the best thing about all these lures and bait is that they will also take golden and silver perch, with bait being ideal for catties.
However, no visit to Somerset Dam is complete without setting some red claw traps to take home a feed. Even though they are at their best in warmer months, the ample red claw can still be taken at this time. Bait for these fellows can be as involved as parboiled spuds, rockmelon and other fruits but I have taken heaps on good old pillies.
For more information contact Geoff and Julie on (07) 5426 0176.Reads: 3865