ANGLERS all over Australia love to head north; everyone wants to latch onto a leaping barra, grapple a GT or get jerked around by a jack. Recently I had the chance to go truly tropical and fish Weipa’s local waters with two friends, and we came away with some extraordinary fishing tales.
When you visit Weipa in November there’s one thing you notice straightaway – it’s damn hot. The temperature gets up to 35°C, and having an air-conditioned room to retire to after a day’s fishing is a must for soft-skinned southerners like us. Our lodgings for our five-day stay in Weipa were at the wonderfully appointed Weipa Camping Ground. With all the facilities that make life comfortable, like a big shower and toilet facility, washing machines and cabins with sweet, sweet air-conditioning, we set up our room and began to plan our assault on the local fish.
The Weipa Camping Ground is a spacious and well appointed 13-acre base for anglers. There’s accommodation ranging from unpowered sites right up to the newly installed, fully self-contained units that can sleep a family in comfort. There are also powered sites, overnight cabins and some smaller self-contained units at a range of prices.
This park has one of the best amenities blocks I have seen. It’s large, clean and there’s always warm (or cool) water to clean off the sweat and red dust from a day on the water. There’s a coin laundry, plenty of clotheslines and they even have a cold drink vending machine – a very handy item as you never seem to get enough fluid into you up there.
And for those who just can’t handle the heat and have to get into some water, there’s a fully fenced pool that’s regularly serviced. It’s a dream to roll around in.
Backing onto the picturesque Albatross Bay, visitors can walk the gently shelving beach without too much worry about crocodiles, but remember to stay out of the water as stingers and other nasties are always a possibility. There are plenty of grassed areas for the kids to run around on and there’s a great fish-cleaning facility located away from the cabins with a bench, hose and bins for your refuse.
The kiosk is well provisioned with essentials such as bread and milk, washing powder, sunscreen, insect repellent and some luxury items. The main shopping complex is only a 10-minute walk up the road, and here you’ll find takeaway food outlets, newsagents, Woolworths and the local tackle store.
The kiosk is also the place to book tours and guided fishing trips, as the Weipa Camping Ground acts as booking agents for the bauxite mine tours and for several charter operators. For the do-it-yourself angler, the kiosk hires out tinnies for half- and full-days. You’ll need to hire a car if you fly in, and we recommend Weipa Rent-A-Car (07 4069 7311). We decided on a Troup Carrier as it had room to store all our tackle, and it was a dream to transport us around the place. After you hire a car or get your own ready, all that’s left to do is grab some tackle, plenty of drinks, some sunscreen and head down to the boat ramp for a fishing experience you’ll remember for a long time.
What can you say about the fishing in Weipa that hasn’t been said before? To describe it as awesome is an understatement, especially for most anglers who rarely get the opportunity to experience such fishing. If you have hired a car (something we found essential for getting around properly), there are plenty of options for land-based fishing.
With a 4WD you can head down to the foreshore near the boat ramp and fish from the jetty with lures or bait to target the plentiful queenfish that herd up the small bait around the lights, or you can cast lures or fish livebaits on the edges of the light for barra and unstoppables. Alternatively, you can head out to the road bridge at the Mission River and fish for barra, queenfish, salmon and trevally, or you can drive to the rocky foreshore area just north of the boat ramp and cast small lures and plastics around for cod, barra, trevally, queenies and trout.
If you have hired a boat or bought your own, you can head into the maze of waterways surrounding Weipa and chase over 60 species of fish. Some of the best action we had was jigging the channel pylons for trevally, casting lures for barra, jacks and hard-fighting king salmon, and drifting over the rocky, reefy area casting lures or fishing baits for cod, barra and trout.
All of this action is within 10 minutes’ drive from the Weipa Camping Ground and is accessible to the average angler who doesn’t have money to hire guide or go on an extended fishing trip. So if you’re heading to Weipa and need a friendly, neat and clean place to base yourself, stop in at the Weipa Camping Ground. It will provide the ideal environment for you to live out your tropical dream.
Weipa Camping Ground
(07) 4069 7871
Rates (two persons)
$65 with 2 x king single beds
$75 with 1 x double bed, 2 x king single beds, kitchen
$85 with 2 x king single beds, 1 x king single bunks, en suite, kitchen
Unpowered sites $10 per adult per night
Powered sites $13 per adult per night
(07) 4069 7311
Weipa Rent-A-Car is open 7 days a week and located at the airport. Prices for 4WD vehicles start at around $110 a day (GST incl.). Weipa Rent-A-Car also has 2WD utes that start at around $60 a day. All vehicles can be supplied with a tow bar and are ideal for fly-in anglers who want to hire a boat and get out there themselves.
• Do not swim where crocodiles live
• When fishing, stand at least a few metres back from the water’s edge – do not stand on logs or branches overhanging the water
• Never clean or discard fish near the water’s edge or any boat ramp
• Never dangle your arms or legs over the side of the boat. If you fall out of a boat, get out of the water as quickly as possible
• Stay back from any crocodile or mud-slide marks. Crocodiles sometimes approach people and boats
• Never provoke or interfere with crocodiles, even small ones
• Do not feed crocodiles – it is illegal and dangerous
• Camp at least 2m above the high water mark and at least 50m back from the water’s edge. Avoid places where native animals and domestic stock drink
• Do not leave food scraps at your camp site
• Do not prepare food, wash dishes or pursue any other activity near the water’s edge or adjacent sloping banks
• Be more aware of crocodiles during spawning season between September and April
1. With 13 acres of camping available there’s plenty of room for the kids to run around on, or to set up camp with some privacy.
2. Coral trout, while not abundant, are available to the travelling fisho on the inshore reefs. Your best bet is to hire a boat and drift along the rocky reefs casting lures.
3. Trevally of all species are abundant in the river mouth and on the shipping leads outside the river. Heavy bucktail jigs are a cheap and effective tool for targeting these fish.
4. Hiring a guide is a great way to get to know the area, but a reliable shore-based location is the jetty near the boat ramp (in the background), especially at dawn and dusk.
5. The overnight cabins are basic and air-conditioned. They’re a great base for a few budget-conscious anglers who just want to go out and fish hard.