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Destination: Donnybrook
  |  First Published: December 2002



DONNYBROOK is a neat holiday/camping destination tucked into the western shore of Pumicestone Passage, the channel separating Bribie Island from the mainland.

The small township of Donnybrook is roughly opposite a point halfway along the inside of Bribie Island, making it is a very sheltered destination for boaters, even when a 40-knot nor-wester is blowing – as was the case during my visit to the area a couple of months ago. The breeze was so strong that it was difficult to open the car door into its teeth, but despite that a number of small boats were out and about in Pumicestone Passage. We fishos are a keen lot, aren’t we!

GETTING THERE

You can get to Donnybrook via Pumicestone Road. This well–signed road runs east off the Bruce Highway on the opposite side of the long established Big Fish and Go Kart Track just north of Caboolture. The exits onto Pumicestone Road from the Bruce Highway, in both north- and south-bound lanes, are virtually opposite the Big Fish complex, so they’re not hard to find.

Once you’re on Pumicestone Road and heading towards the coast, keep a lookout for the Donnybrook Road turn-off on the left after you’ve travelled several kilometres. Once you’re on Donnybrook Road you’ll soon see the small coastal town coming into view. And if it's late afternoon, keep an eye out for the resident kangaroos.

THE TOWN

Donnybrook is small and has a very relaxed attitude to life. Nobody’s in a hurry at Donnybrook! I loved the atmosphere given that this spot’s only an hour north of Brisbane, where you get cut-and-thrust traffic and the general frustrations of a city.

Once in Donnybrook we settled for lunch at the picnic tables in Pumicestone Park right by the water and next to the jetty. I noted the nearby camping grounds in Alice Street which looked to be well set out and with plenty of shade, which is important at this time of year. Nearby, on the esplanade, was the local jetty with the boat ramp right next to it.

Opposite the camping grounds is the general store (ph. (07) 5498 8219). Here there’s a newsagency and post office, and you can also make bookings for the camping grounds and its 17 sites. The store, run by Noel and Denise Stanaway, offers a good line of groceries and there’s also bait, ice, petrol, some fishing tackle, outboard fuel, and LP gas on hand. If you don’t have a boat and want to hire one, Noel and Denise will help you out.

The local bowls club is within walking distance of the camping grounds and is a popular venue for meals on Friday and Saturday nights (and you can walk home!).

Donnybrook is a very small town, but the residents take great pride in their small seaside home. The place is very clean and has a great deal of appeal. While sitting in Pumicestone Park for lunch I took in the vista of blue water with Bribie Island just across the way, the sight of a sailing boat gamely tacking into the strong breeze, and the ever-present small boats plying back and forth in the Passage in search of fish, crabs, or just general boating enjoyment.

THE FISHING

Donnybrook is primarily an angler's destination, but southern visitors also like it as a Winter holiday place to set up camp and enjoy the sun, which beams in nice and early from the east.

Boaters should remember that all of Pumicestone Passage is very much influenced by tides. While boat launching at the Donnybrook ramp is quite OK at all stages of the tide, any navigation outside of the marked channels may involve some very quick up-trimming of the motor once the mud starts to show in the prop wash. Once the tide starts to get below the halfway mark it's necessary to keep to the channels, that's for sure.

The best idea for boating anglers is to plan fishing trips for high tide, and bait gathering (yabbies abound in the area) for the low tide. Anglers wanting to fish from the bank can walk out on the flats when the tide is low and search for whiting with bait, or bream or flathead with lures or bait. These fish are virtually a year-round proposition at Donnybrook. It's that sort of place.

Don’t overlook the night fishing here. If I was staying at Donnybrook I’d choose a nice dark night when the northerly is running out of puff and high tide is around 9 o'clock. I'd launch the boat on dark and then target big whiting on the shallow flats running off the main channel. Pumicestone Passage is a great place for whiting at any time during the warmer months but, as is often the case, the larger fish seem to be on the chew during the hours of darkness. Pumping a selection of small and medium sized yabbies in the afternoon and then fishing after dark is a great way to target these fish.

And don't forget the crabs! There are still plenty of sandies and mud crabs in the Passage, and the boat-based angler can certainly motor up into the small creeks and mooch in around mangroves to set out some pots or dillies to secure a few succulent crabs for lunch.

So there you have it – Donnybrook. It's a destination for laid-back and relaxed anglers.

1) The boat ramp at Donnybrook is fine for all-tide use. When out on the water, remember to keep to the marked channels if the tide is low.

2) Donnybrook is a relaxed, laid-back place. Mr and Mrs Kampe senior are enjoying their lunch in Pumicestone Park with the jetty in the background.

3) Shovel-nosed rays love yabbies! Donnybrook is a great place for owners of small boats because most of the waterways are sheltered.

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