There is something special about fishing in the tropics. The fish you chase, the natural and dangerous environment, the people you meet and the places you stay all combine to make it an addictive place for a angler to visit.
I’ll admit when I’m fishing I go pretty hard at it and accommodation is usually the last thing on my mind. Give me a bed and a bit of food, let me sleep and get ready for tomorrow is about the sum of my thoughts on accommodation. But as I get a bit older (and maybe even a little wiser) I find the need for good food, great company, air conditioning and a relaxed atmosphere more important to the enjoyment of a trip north.
Late last year I had a great week up at Bamaga and Seisia. That is about as far north as you can get in Queensland and, thanks to John Charleton’s Fishing Adventures, the fishing can be spectacular. On the trip we stayed at a few venues, but one that struck me immediately as ideal for anglers was Loyalty Beach Campground and Fishing Lodge.
There are two ways you can go at Loyalty Beach; comfy air-conditioned dongers in the lodge area or bush camping.
The campgrounds provide plenty of space to get away from the crowds and have some privacy with dirt tracks leading to the various sites. Some sites have power and sheds to protect you from rain and sun, while other sites are tucked away amongst the bushes and have no power or shelter. While we were at Loyalty one of my mates Josh Lyon came up from Weipa for a few days and camped at a site that had million dollar views of the ocean. Josh’s site had a campfire, a shelter and power, and every evening we sat around the fire having a beer while watching the sun go down over the water. Bush camping for around $10 a night just doesn’t get any better.
The air-conditioned dongers are just the ticket after a long day on the water fishing. They are all connected to one another and each room has two single beds, a small bar fridge for important things like cold beer and soft drinks, and its own air conditioner. You are supplied with a towel and fresh linen. And while this may not sound like the Hilton, I can guarantee you it is all you need up north after being in the tropical heat all day.
Everyone at the camp can use the communal showers and toilets, you’ll just have to keep an eye out for the local green tree frogs and geckos that love to soak up the moisture and watch you shower.
The part that really surprised me and was the most welcome was the food package option. Every night the boys at Loyalty put on a great feed of steak, seafood, fruits and vegetables; and every morning there was cereal, fruits and toast ready to go. And if you’d planned it with the team at Loyalty, as you walked out the door to go fishing they handed you a lunch pack with enough food and snacks to keep you going for the day. Absolutely fantastic for around $40 and, in my opinion, there is no other way to do it.
There is also a self-contained beach house that sleeps up to six people and is fully air-conditioned. If you’re into creature comforts, then this is the option for you and your mates, but you will need to book well in advance, as it’s a popular option.
The dinners every night were a great chance to meet the other anglers and swap war stories. The hour of the night dictated the size and number of fish caught and as a angler I wouldn’t have it any other way. The whole idea of fishing stories is to berley yourself up into a frenzy for tomorrow’s action and these nightly get togethers did just that.
Add to this that the team will cook up your catch of coral trout, mackerel, barra or crayfish and it’s easy to see just how good guests get treated.
The team also have medical experience and qualifications as I found out when some rampant infection decided that two of my fingers were worth taking over. Within a day of treatment from the team, the infection had subsided and the small cuts looked like they should – tiny little scrapes hardly worth attention. So not only was I fed to overflowing, I felt looked after and safe.
What can be said about the fishing other than it’s great. Like everywhere there are quiet periods, but when it’s on, it is well and truly on!
Tuna, trevally, queenfish and mackerel make up most of the pelagic catch, while coral trout, sweetlip and crayfish will delight anglers fishing the reefs. If you’re into creek fishing, then the standard fare of barra, fingermark, jack and monster threadfin salmon will keep you well amused.
And if you fly in or drive in without any firm fishing plans, Loyalty Beach has its own guiding operation and hire boats. For around $600 a day for a guided fishing trip, it can be money well spent getting to know the area and having a guide show you first hand what to do and where to do it.
So the fishing is worth the visit alone. And given that the roads have been closed with a couple of friendly cyclones shutting access down, this year is looking at being one of the better fishing years, so don’t miss the chance to get up north and enjoy yourself.
Campground:$9 per person per night
Add $2 per night for power
Dongas:$90 per double
$50 per person twin share
Beach House:$165 per night (4 persons)
Extra person/s $20 each per night
Meal Package:$60 per day per person
Cape York is accessible by air and sea year round with flight departing daily from Cairns and other regional airports, and ships departing weekly from Cairns. Transfers are available from the airport.
4WD access to Bamaga is via the Peninsula Development Road and the Old Telegraph Track during the dry season only (April-November). From Bamaga travel northwest along the bitumen towards Seisia for approximately 5km. The Loyalty Beach turn off is well signed with the campground and lodge lying just 2km along a well maintained dirt road.
Loyalty Beach Campground and Fishing Lodge
B/H: (07) 4069 3372
A/H: (07) 4069 3770
Email: --e-mail address hidden--