Fair go for travelling boaties
  |  First Published: December 2003

WE ALL look forward to the Christmas period for the festive spirit, the joy on the kids’ faces and the time off work – especially for a fishing holiday.

But getting there isn’t all that much fun, especially if you’re towing a boat. I recently returned from a fishing journey on which I travelled from Newcastle to Coolangatta, then west out to Dubbo and down to the Snowy Mountains, covering nearly 6000km. It gave me plenty of ideas on what we need as anglers to make life easier on the road.

The first problem was the lack of motel and hotel parking areas that could accommodate a boat. It’s as if everyone in these businesses has the goal of cramming as many vehicles into their parking lot as possible. Even a trailer with a canoe on top can block some access in front of rooms and anyone with a longer load than that is usually told to take their chance parking on the street. And that’s after paying a fair price to stay the night.

We came across only two motels which had signs indicating secure boat or trailer parking. A few operators offered to put our boat near their pool or in a back block away from everyone, but there’s not much security in that. A boat with even the most modest gear can be an invitation to thieves: Life jackets, a fuel tank, an electric motor or a small outboard can disappear overnight and we definitely can’t drag that stuff into our rooms. Having it all sitting in a unfamiliar town well away from sight or earshot is a real worry.

It wasn’t just the security that became a problem on the road. Some very well-known takeaway food outlets advised us that no trailers were to pass through drive-through stations. To test this we drove into a number. As we went through, the trailer set off the sensor that indicates to the attendant that another car is passing the order speaker and the attendant ‘spoke’ to the trailer for a while. The driveways can easily be negotiated with a boat up to five metres as long as you’re careful. We got the message from irate drivers behind us who couldn’t wait to scream into the speaker. None could be anglers, as they wouldn’t have had the patience to catch a fish.

And if we stopped at shopping centres at major towns there was awful trouble finding a double park, especially in those places with angle parking. Most councils seemed to pack the streets with no-stopping or no-parking signs.

Mobile phone coverage is also an eye-opener. The Pacific Highway is OK except for a few mountainous spots but as soon as you head west, forget the phone. The major towns had good coverage but travel 10km and you’re back to nothing. Neither Optus nor Telstra had much coverage out through the real back blocks, even on so-called major highways that were quite busy.

As you travel these isolated roads you can understand why the farmers and locals have four-metre UHF aerials on their vehicles. The kids thought they were beach rods at first – it was good for a laugh and we didn’t tell them differently for a while but they soon worked it out.

While travelling can be great fun, hauling all your gear from one destination to another does have its problems. All in all, though, it can be worth it. There is some great fishing out there and the people you meet can really help you find good water and good fish. The local tackle shops and guides throughout New South Wales can’t be surpassed.

• Local fishing has been fairly slow over the past month, not to say there aren’t any fish around. There have been a reports of some anglers cleaning up on flathead and the usual influx of whiting are around also. Through December the water will warm and the fishing should be better from the middle of this month onwards. Tailor and other pelagics should be around as well,

No 1

Lure craftsmen Dick Elvins with two nice Murray cod, taken on his Gwydir Gobbler lures.

No 2,

Don’t store your lures like this! No matter how careful you are, you will always get stabbed and disentangling a mess like this isn’t fun. The result of three weeks of travelling and throwing everything in one box

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