Barramundi Discovery Centre
  |  First Published: February 2009

The Barramundi Discovery Centre is an essential place to visit in Karumba.

You can’t miss the huge sign as you travel down Yappar Sreet past the port facility of Oz Minerals. The Barramundi Discovery Centre is a non-profit, registered charity and receives donations from various groups including the Carpentaria Shire Council, the Commercial Fisherman’s Association and the Karumba Community Anglers Classic.

The centre is a vital cog in the breeding cycle of our southern gulf strain of Barramundi. The centre supplies fingerlings to Richmond, Burketown, Normanton, Mount Isa, Croydon and releases thousands more into the Norman River. The organisation hold fundraising events during the year including raffles and the Duck Race in late June that helps to offset costs.

The Barramundi Discovery Centre operates as a Tourist Information venue, that also gives tours to visitors throughout the year. Tours include a short video, interpretive displays and information about the Gulf and Karumba. But the highlight is feeding a mighty barramundi. When feeding the Barramundi you have to be patient as they sometimes take a look before attacking the bait.

Gifts for any occasion are available from the air-conditioned gift shop. They have a range of souvenirs including unique barramundi leather goods, as well as products made from emu, shark, sea snake, ostrich, crocodile, and cane toad.

Anyone can have a pet dog or cat but if you contact the centre you can adopt a hatchery barramundi. You receive an adoption certificate and regular updates on the size, weight, and disposition of your fish. You also get the opportunity to release the fish back into the wild when the fish has completed it’s duties.

Harvesting of barramundi is an awesome experience. The fertile females are injected to induce spawning and the boys rely on instinct to know what to do. The eggs are collected and placed in a hatching tank overnight then removed into a pond. After three weeks the pond is pumped out until a small channel is left and then the little barramundi are netted and transported by bucket (in each bucket there would be about 1000 barramundi) to the growing tanks.

Growing barramundi are fed regularly (up to 6 times a day) and checked every day. They are carnivorous so they are separated into different tanks by size to stop the big fish swallowing the little ones. They reach 100mm in three months and able to be tagged at 170mm after five months.

A new laboratory for fingerlings has been developed recently which adds further capability to the centre to continue working with dedicated locals in restocking the rivers of the gulf. Here they are able to grow the food to feed the barramundi larvae.

I have had some fun times around harvest time at the Barramundi Discovery Centre – an added bonus was collecting all the prawns that had bred in the pond and feeding them to the big barramundi. I have set out to acquire an awesome camera so I can get a shot of a barra engulfing a prawn.

Please call in to the Barramundi Discovery Centre the next time you are in Karumba and say hello to Kyra and her team of volunteers. They work very hard and appreciate your time. For more information about the Barramundi Discovery Centre please call 07 4745 9359.

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