Nov 252018
 
truant-1

truant island

we had our first trip in the big boat for the season this weekend, we headed out on friday morning to truant island, towing the tinny. we have been waiting for the dry season winds to really abate and finally this weekend looked like the break, with the winds shifting round to the north and even into the north west on sunday.

despite the fairly long interval between trips, nearly everything worked well on the boat and we didnt forget anything other than a couple of minor items! our last trip was back in may, so it was quite a break over the dry season.

we had a gold spot trevally we caught after arriving on friday for dinner the first night, a sploosh of chipotle mayo, salad with greens from the garden and a nice bottle of white were the perfect companions as we watched the full moon rise. we had hoped we would see the turtles hatching given the full moon, but there were no signs when we checked about 10pm and no tracks in the morning.

we had a quite varied weekend, kai & I did quite a bit of snorkelling as the water was very clear, given that young sean whitcomb nearly most his arm in a shark attack here last weekend, we were a little cautious in the water! kai and I also spent a fair bit of time chasing fish from the boat with our spears, kai hit a couple of mullet but they got off before we could recover the spears. Sal and i spent saturday morning bottom fishing the reefs around truant banks without much success but caught a couple of mackerel to keep us fed!

we also did our usual beachcombing and brought home some more floatsom and jetsom for the decorations at rick’s bar and grill!

coffee time!

coffee time!

we had a leisurely trip home on sunday, as you can see kai slept the whole way, i am making a coffee while the auto pilot steers us homewards!

we covered 71.2nm and motored for 5.5hrs using 165lt for fuel consumption of exactly 30lt per hour and 2.3lt/nm

 

 

Oct 272018
 
oct-6

beachcombed bouys

its been a while since i posted to the blog, so i thought i better do an update. my twitter followers will have seen most of these images and know what we have been up to, but for the rest of you here is a quick and dirty post about october!

its mainly images and less words, because its a lazy saturday afternoon!

the big news this month was that kai got picked for the gove representative rugby league team to travel to katherine for a tournament against sides from katherine, alice springs and darwin. the team drove out and played a couple of matches on the friday night and then the main tournament was on saturday, unfortunately in the second game kai was heavily tackled while carrying the ball and ended up with a mild concussion, so he missed the rest of the games.

also this month sal and i had 5 days in darwin, she had a tax course in darwin for 1 day so i took a few days off and we flew over for a long weekend, kai stayed at home and looked after himself. we had a lovely time, lots of lazing round the hotel pool, lots of yummy meals and catching up with a few friends. dave, the new co-ordinator at the art centre, is an artist himself and he had an exhibition on the friday night at outstation gallery – who also happen to be one of my coffee customers! so we had a nice night at the opening before heading to the darwin icon that is peewees for dinner.

we also did all the markets, mindal, parap, rapid creek and nightcliff. we discovered a new place that actually has decent coffee – a first in darwin! its called alfoncinos and its down the arcade in mitchell st that runs down to the old bus terminal, just past coles.

our first night we had dinner at what used to be the pearl, it has transformed into a tapas and wine bar and sad to say its nowhere near as good as it used to be.

sal also picked up a couple of lovely skirts with actual pockets!

other meals we enjoyed was lunches at the old standby, the sumatra cafe, one of darwin’s hidden secrets, they do fantastic, authentic padang food from sumatra, and dinner at memories of india which is the best indian i have had in australia at a sit down restaurant. we also had dinner at the laksa house, aka warung ibu ayme, another darwin institution on the stuart highway.

in other news i finally completed reassembling the big boat shed at our house in south, its been a long and sometimes arduous project, but its now complete. I think it ended up being rebuilt upside down, inside out and back to front. Largely due to the timelapse between disassembly when i bought it and when i rebuilt it, as well as the impermanence of the permanent marker that i labelled everything with!

yesterday sal & i headed out on daves boat and had a lovely day on the water, we left the boat ramp at about 8:30, had bagged out with 6 nice mackerel by 11:30, had lunch and a swim at breakfast island and we were home by 2:30!

(dont forget you can click on the “i” to see the image captions)

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 1:09 pm  Tagged with:



Apr 032018
 
easter-37

coming across malay roads

easter is usually crap weather regardless of location – whether you are camping in tassie, fishing in esperance, hiking in the daintree or boating in arnhem land, it typically pisses down for most of the 4 days. this easter though held a different promise, the dregs of cyclone bloody nora had slipped away, and with it the thunder storms and rain. the forecast was exceptional – clear weather with very light variable winds.

we had planned a trip away in the boat before discovering how good the weather was going to be, dave had his 4 days off exactly lining up with the easter break and so it was going to be the four of us heading off – but unfortunately the weekend before easter, sal’s dad finally succumbed to his battle with mesothelioma and so she had to fly down to the gold coast. so it was left to dave, kai & I to make the most of the promising conditions!

we headed up to the wessel islands friday morning, we left the boat club about 9:30 and by midday we were anchored in an unnamed bay south of raragala bay on raragala island, its one of our favourite anchorages. the trip was uneventful with the promised calm conditions allowing us to make good time up to cape wilberforce and then across to the passage between wigram and cotton island before crossing donington sound to the wessel islands.

we spent our days exploring the beaches and bays along the southern side of raragala island, fishing the open waters for tuna and mackerel and the rocky shelves of raragala bay for mangrove jack. we climbed up waterfalls to discover spring fed streams at the top and amazing views across the water, we swam in waterholes – including our favourite one at the base of a waterfall that is large, deep and shaded by trees. kai was in first when we arrived and yelled out to dave that there was a big water monitor in the pool, before climbing up the waterfall. dave went to get in to the pool and discovered the “water monitor” was a 1.5m salt water croc!! kai had actually nearly landed on top of it when he jumped in!

 

we tried to get it to ‘move on’ but it just moved into the deepest part of the pool and lay there quietly so we decided to share the pool with it and hope that it didnt get agitated and nip us!! it must have decided the company was unwanted because every other time we went there for a swim there was no sign of the croc!

of course there was some cold beers, good wine and yummy food eaten over the 4 days, we watched sunsets, moon rises and gazed at the tapestry of stars. i took the vintage atomic coffee machine so the mornings were started with decent coffee which makes everything better! kai had a ball, caught some good fish, used his new snorkelling gear for the first time and enjoyed the calm weather! we missed sal, but there will be many other trips with her.

we also came across an amazing scene in raragala bay, we were attracted by obvious activity with heavy splashing on the surface of the water, expecting a school of tuna we headed over in the tinny to discover a school of bait being rounded up and chomped by a huge school of sharks varying in length up to about 3m! there were also some tuna and GT’s amongst the carnage! we hooked a couple of nice GTs off the edge of the school on our light barra gear.

the same activity was happening the next day whe we went back and I got some video footage, the bait fish decided to try to hide underneath the tinny and as we motored off the school of sharks followed us like the pied piper!

another unlucky fish was spotted floating between the big boat and the tinny tied up alongside, we thought it was a trevally at first, but as it moved we realised it was a big sea mullet. i grapped a spear out of the tinny and had the easiest shot ever to get a fish that size! as you can see from the photo he had been attacked by a shark or something so thats probably why he was lazing around the boat.

we headed home on monday and if possible it was even flatter than the previous 3 days! i took photos off the side of the boat and the reflection looks like a mirror the water was so flat – and we were travelling at 16kts! all in all a fabulous and relaxing trip.

a video perspective of the reflections and the flat ocean,

 

we did 7.5hrs and 100nm, used 225l of diesel, so 30l per hour and 2.25l per nm.

Jan 052018
 

 

 

heading north

heading north

sal & i have just spent 5 days on our boat at the wessel islands, ‘bliss’ is the word that popped in my head when i thought of one word to describe the 5 days. i guess the dream of owning our own boat that we could live aboard for extended periods and continue to explore the paradise we live in, had long been in our minds, and we had begun to have some sense of the potential from our few previous tips on the new boat.

this was truly what we had envisaged though, exploring new bays, beaches, islands, creeks, fishing spots, swimming holes, while wining and dining on the water! we had decided that the week between xmas and new year was perfect for an extended trip, we were both off work and the weather was looking perfect. kai announced his intention to stay at home as 5 days stuck on a boat with his ‘rents was more than a teenager could bear – we were torn between knowing what he would miss out on, and the thrill of having 5 days to ourselves, on the water!

we decided to leave on the wednesday after boxing day, giving us time to recover from xmas excess and prepare the boat, we left mind morning and headed north, our last human contact was a short radio converstion with dave who was out on his boat with his family and we chatted as we passed near bonner rocks, we pressed on north in flat seas towards cape wilberforce and then thru the passage between cotton and wigram island and across the donington sound to raragala island in the wessel islands.

the day just got calmer and calmer as it went on and it completely glassed off by midday, with the flooding tide under us we made good time and dropped anchor in our chosen anchorage on raragala island for a late lunch.

we chose to anchor in this unamed bay on the south side of raragala island to allow us to explore the southern end of the island in the tinny, while having close access to one of our favourite fresh water swimming spots on the island, and the fishing in raragala bay itself. we were forced to eat a non-fish dinner as we didnt catch anything in the afternoon we spent exporing the local beaches and bays.

after a pleasant night i woke up early and made us a coffee with my ‘glamping’ caravel, a 60 year old, manual lever machine that i have converted to non-electric service, and then jumped in the tinny and headed round to raragala bay to fish the rocky headlands and managed to drag a couple of nice mangrove jacks out of the rocks for dinner.

we spent time at a spring fed freshwater swimming spot that we had visited in a previous trip to the wessels on a charter, it has a waterfall that falls into a large, tree shaded pool and is just behind the beach, so its easy to get to in the boat and a very refreshing spot to visit. we also explored the coast down to the southern end of raragala island, beach combing along the way and then investigating whether it was possible to pass between raragala island and jirrgarri island to get round to the north side of raragala island.

the chart suggested there might be a narrow passage that was navigable, and on arriving there we were able to find a very narrow passage between jirrgarri island and a small unnamed island to its north, it was probably 30m wide but quite deep, reef and sand shoals extended north with a narrow but deep passage between them. we were there right on low tide so we figured if we could get the tinny through and find a safe passage then it ought to be possible to get the big boat through safely at high tide.

i knew i would have to time it right with the tide only just turned because otherwise it was obvious the current would rage through the narrow passage. after returning to the anchorage we decided to have lunch and then weigh anchor and have a crack at getting through what I named the “eye of the needle”! in the end it went pretty smoothly, there was about 4 kts of tide against us and we got through safely and then headed up to a new anchorage at guruliya bay.

we spent the next couple of days at guruliya bay, there was plenty of exlploring of the beaches, bays and creeks either side of the anchorage and also plenty of good spots for fishing. in particular the head of the bay has a system of small mangrove creeks and rocky headlands that suggested plenty of barra and jack action. while it wasnt exactly going off, I manged to get a couple of nice barra and some more jack to keep the plates filled with fish! the weather continued to be fantastic, enough breeze to keep us cool enough to sleep at night, but no storms or rain.

on our seond last day we weighed anchor and headed for the hole in the wall, or gugari rip, to travel back to the southern side of raragala island, into raragala bay for a night before heading home. one again conditions were perfect and I timed the run through the hole in the wall for an hour or so below low tide so we would have some current against us, there was a bit more run than i expected, we had about 4 knots against us in the middle of the hole in the wall, but it presented no issue.

in her 15 years in arnhem land, sal has caught most fish species, but one that had eluded her to date was a mangrove jack, so i made sure that while we were in raragala bay she came and had a fish with me to get her first jack. in the end it was a decent fish and she was pleased to tick it off her list! the second one she caught was hilarious and i wish i had caught it on video, she flicked her lure perfectly and enticed a small rock cod to rush out and grab the lure, as she got it close to the boat, 4 jacks stormed out from under a rock shelf, the biggest one grabbed the rock cod and tore it off the lure – then one of the smaller jacks grabbed her lure!

new years eve we weighed anchor in the wessel islands for the final time and pointed the old girl south, towards home, we had an uneventful run across donnington strait and into malay roads before rounding cape wilberforce and lined up gove harbour.

we stopped for a troll on a favourite shoal on the way and sal pulled up a stonker of a mackerel to finish the trip on a high note!

all in all a magical 5 days, absolutely what we envisaged doing when we bought this boat, to be able to do it as just the two of us with no other people seen or talked to for 5 days was extra special, no phones, internet, tv, computers etc was also a pleasant change! we are truly lucky to have such an incredible landscape and environment right on our doorstep – and to have the means to immerse ourselves in it and explore the magical coastline.

We ended up using 305L of fuel (which means either the tank is bigger than the 300L i was told, or BP’s bowser is a ripoff!), we did 11.2hrs motoring, so 27L per hour, and about 140nm so 2.2L per nm

Dec 112017
 
truant-14

heading north

we have been promising our dear friends leesi and jeremy a weekend away on the big boat since they arrived to help run the art centre a couple of months ago, they visit arnhem land 3 or 4 times a year and its always a battle between their work committments and trying to find sufficient opportunities for social obligations!

we decided this weekend was the last chance as they leave just after xmas and sal is away next week, so we headed out on saturday, leaving kai at home to hold the fort!

we headed up to truant island and the weather was very pleasant with a light breeze and blue skies, we caught a nice mackerel at barricade shoal just before arriving, so that was quickly filleted and thrown on the bbq for lunch!

after afternoon swims and relaxation we broke out the italian prosecco and fine cheeses! dinner was some skippy fillets I had marinated in redwine with bay leaves, juniper berries and garlic with a garden salad.

after dinner we were mesmerised by an amazing show of phosphorescence in the water and the moonless, star filled sky above.

we had a comfortable night and woke to a glorious day on sunday, the breeze dropped right out and after coffees from the glamping caravel we whipped up a breakfast of chorizo, halloumi, cherry tomatoes and greens from our garden topped with soft boiled eggs.

we had a very smooth and pleasant trip back to gove on sunday, and it nicely finished off a fantastic weekend with great company, fine food, cold beer, good wine and lots of laying around doing bugger all! we also caught 2 more nice mackerel at last chance shoal on the way home!

it was fantastic to have a weekend away with leesi and jeremy and be away from work and just hang out, i think they also enjoyed it!

on the more mundane side of things, the boat ran well, nothing new seemed to need fixing! ….until we were nearly home when the dreaded fuel problem from the last few trips raised its ugly head. i really thought I had fixed it by rectifying the fuel tank breather issue i found, but it wasnt the cause of the random loss of power.

today i cleaned the boat up and then stripped the fuel lines with the idea of replacing them to eliminate another possible cause of the issue, dave popped around and i was showing him when he noticed something that looked to be stuck in the fuel line – we got some tweezers and he pulled out a long piece of plastic strip, so I am certain we have now found the culprit! hopefully there is no more in the fuel tank!

we didnt tow the tinny this time so the fuel economy is a bit better, total of 7.6 hrs and 85nm travelled using 148L for 19.5L/h or 1.74L/nm

 Posted by at 8:26 pm  Tagged with:



Nov 272017
 
rainbow over bosenquet islet

rainbow over bosenquet islet

we headed up to inglis island for a few days exploring on friday morning, we took the big boat and towed the tinny for exploring and fishing. inglis island is the western most of the english company islands and is separated from the mainland by a narrow strait, nalwarung strait.

we steamed up against a bit of NE swell and a fresh ENE breeze, but once we rounded cape wilberforce it flattened off as we motored down malay roads. i decided to anchor in behind bosenquet islet which lies off the NE corner of inglis island.

“Matthew Flinders on 19 February 1803 named the island. It is believed to have been named after Samuel Bosanquet of Forest House, Waltham and Dingestow Court, Monmouthshire.

Flinders named a number of islands in the group after members of the East India Company (Cotton, Inglis, Wigram, Bosanquet and Astell) and his journal has the entry :

” I have therefore applied names to each [island], mostly after gentlemen in the East-India directory; and in compliment to that respectable body of men, whose liberal attention to this voyage was useful to us and honourable to them, the whole cluster is named the ENGLISH COMPANY’S ISLANDS”

Samuel Bosanquet was governor of the Bank of England (1792)”

anchored off bosenquot islet

anchored off bosenquot islet

while it was a pretty anchorage, and had deep water close in, and shelter from the ENE wind, the swell rolled around the point of the island and we had a farily uncomfortable night!

friday afternoon we fished the creeks at the eastern end of inglis island – which are reputed to hold good numbers of blue salmon, threadfin, jacks and barra – but over the 3 days we caught nothing and saw no signs of action so whether the tides were wrong or i was holding my tongue wrong i dont know, but the fishing was very lean.

saturday we explored the northern side of inglis island and found some nice beaches, but again the fishing was dire, we had hoped to bottom fish the change of the tide, but by then the wind was too strong so we gave in and returned to the big boat.

dinner that night was accompanied by a bottle of veuve clicquot in honor of our 14th wedding anniversary! we enjoyed fresh bbq’d trevally fillets – thanks to kai who was the only successful fisherperson, having a ball chasing the trevally on light gear – he fished until after dark!

the nights were stunning, with a sliver of a moon that set early, the stars were magnificent and the luminescence in the water was electric.

on saturday afternoon we had a shower of rain and an amazing rainbow, at first we could see one end of it about 500m away in nalwarung strait, and then it completed the arc and the other end went into the water about 100m away from where we were anchored! so we had pots of gold within reach either side!!

we had a few minor problems, as sems to be the way with boats! the regulator for the gas stove had frozen closed and i was unable to free it, so we had to use the weber baby Q to do all the cooking – fine for the bbq fish, but less than ideal for the morning coffees! i also had a recurrence of a fuel supply problem that had become apparent on our last trip, it causes the motor to suddenly lose power which is a bit disconcerting.

after some investigation today i believe i found the cause, the breather hose on the tank had a big dip in it, below the tank, this allowed it to fill with diesel when the tank was filled and it was causing a vacum lock. hopefully re-routing the hose has fixed it, but we wont know for sure until the next trip.

all in all, a lovely 3 days relaxing with just sal, kai and i and no connection to the rest of the world! very peaceful. just would have been nice to find a few more fish, but there is always next time!

we covered 93nm in the big boat and did 7.8hrs engine hours all up, used 220lt so 28 l/h and 2.36 l/nm. it was also our first time with sal and i towing out both boats and launching and retrieving them on our own, so that was a nice confidence booster too.

Oct 082017
 
anchored at truant island

anchored at truant island

we spent this weekend on the big boat up at truant island with the Blakes, we have been promising Andrew & Di a trip on our boat for the last few months and finally we all got our acts together for this weekend! Dave also came along in his boat which we planned to use for fishing and exploring sessions.

the weather wasnt as good as I had hoped and it was a fairly slow and bumpy trip up there on saturday morning, but as always, once we were in the shelter of truant it was white sand beaches, crystal clear water and lots of wildlife!

we did have a troll on saturday afternoon and picked up a couple of nice mackerel and gold spot trevally, with sal cleaning up with most of the fish!

we also caught up with the keeleys who were up there in their noosa cat with their 3 little boys – the whole family spent the whole weekend spearfishing!

saturday night we had a great meal with the mackerel sal caught followed by a yummy beef curry that Di had cooked and brought along.

we did 6 hours motoring and used 140 litres of fuel which works out to 23L per hour which is pretty good, and we did 74 miles so just under 2L per mile. I was trying out the spare prop, which is the original 3 blade alloy prop, I had already decided the current 4 blade stainless prop is too big but I just wanted to compare the old one before deciding on what the correct size for the boat is. Other than that we had more issues with the electrics, but I have isolated and rectified most of the issues, now its just a case of replacing the house batteries which are no longer holding a charge.

we also had some sort of fuel problem when we were nearly back to the boat ramp, on checking it seems like it was just accumulated water and crap in the fuel tank that had filled and blocked the fuel filter, so I have cleaned it all out and changed the filter.

i didnt get round to taking enough photos! i only have the one above from truant and a couple from our dinner on the friday night before the trip, so its words more than images this week! (sadly andrew’s waterproof case failed on his iPhone when he swam ashore at truant, so his phone is borked and all the photos lost, the one of me cooking the steak, he messaged to me on friday night – so its the last seen image off his dead phone!!)

Aug 192017
 
sal & kade

sal & kade

our old mate kade, was back in yirrkala for a few days and came over to spend the last night at rick’s bar and grill. i grabbed some scallops from gove seafood and just panfried them in butter  & olive oil. i made up a batch of dave’s yummy sauce which is the perfect accompaniment to scallops. a perfect entree followed by pan fried mackeral and salad!

anyway, what i was actually going to post about, until i came across that photo, was the fiddling on the new boat this week, firstly the solar panel i had ordered arrived – i was so excited about finding the package i wanted that i had neglected to look at how big it was! when it arrived i figured the box must have a huge amount of padding because it looked big enough to be a wing for a small plane!

as it turned out the box was all solar panel – 2m x 1m – rather big! it is a 305w panel so it should be able to keep up with a small town, let alone a small boat! it came with special mounting blocks, cabling and a solar controller. normally i would have put it in with duct tape and fencing wire, but given the quality finish of our new boat i was forced to slow down and do the job properly!

i got my make cookie to do the electrical installation so it didnt look like a mad womans hair in the morning, all in all I am very happy with the whole job.

today i have been fiddling around with a couple of other jobs, the ‘trim up’ switch was not working very well and I was having to use the ‘trailer’ switch to raise the leg, after some research on the issue, my google fu uncovered the issue as being the ‘trim limit switch’ on the sterndrive and on closer inspection i discovered the wiring was buggered – how it worked at all is a mystery!

fiddlin-4

removed switch with buggered wiring

the next problem to tackle was a slight coolant leak that I noticed after our last trip, i suspected a leak around the area of the coolant overflow accumulator tank and after running the engine for ½ an hour or so to get it up to temperature I indeed discovered a small leak from the seal on the lid on the accumulator tank.

white tank with leak at lid in foreground

white tank with leak at lid in foreground

finally, i also bought a large tarp to cover the boat while its parked up in the driveway, rather detracts from her pretty lines but functional!

dressed in silver!

dressed in silver!

all in all some good fiddlin’ to fix a few little issues, but also a reminder that owning a big boat is like standing in the shower tearing up hundred dollar bills!

 Posted by at 5:15 pm



Mar 192017
 
march-32

coral trout

after our big trip down to dudley island on saturday we spent most of the rest of our time at bawaka fishing the reefs outside port bradshaw in dave’s boat, and fishing the rockbars in the bay in mine. this led to a steady stream of quality table fish with red emporer, mackerel, coral trout, barrumundi cod and mangrove jack making up the main species caught.

on sunday i also took timmy, djaka, yarrangu, russell & kai across the bay in my boat to hunt maranydjalk (sting ray) and djindjalma (mud crab) – which led to a great feast that night! maranydjalk is one of our favourite seafoods when prepared the yolngu way and it was fantastic for dave, brian and caitie to be able to see the preparation and then discover the amazing taste of this delicacy of arnhem land.

of course no trip like this will be without its dramas, and my poor old leaky, battered and bashed tinny was the most likely candidate. so it proved to be when on the first day i tried to select reverse and the gear cable popped out thru its sheath and made reverse unselectable and likely to leave the boat inoperable as it got worse. having a diesel fitter, a mechanical fitter and an electrician…..made little difference! but bush mechanics 101 came to the rescue and we cut some lengths of fencing wire, bent them to the curve of the cable and taped them to the cable before finishing with cable ties. the repair did the trick and the bodged up cable will probably still be in the boat next time brian comes up!! Special thanks to caitie also, without her expertise with the ‘magic smoke’ we would have had no coffee machine, fans or lights due to some faults with the solar system.

march-50

bush mechanics

as usual with us food was a highlight of the week, but when mixed with the abundant wildlife, stunning environment, cultural wealth, brilliant weather and damn fine company it was truly an unforgettable week and one that we will all continue to reflect on and remember with much fondness.

So thanks firstly to timmy and the family for welcoming us to bawaka and treating us to a unique experience in this piece of paradise, thanks to brian and caitie for being the catalyst for this adventure, as well as being fabulous company and finally thanks to my best mate dave for all his help in making this trip a success.

I will finish up with one of my favourite images from the week, taken as we were presented with our plate of maranydjalk!

march-38

 

 

 

 

Mar 172017
 

march-7

my old mate, brian livingstone (livo), used to live here and relocated his family to yepoon in queensland some years ago. he pops back every couple of years for some fishing and to inflict serious and lasting damage on our livers. this time he brought his daughter caitie and settled in for 2 weeks. they stayed with my mate dave ‘butts’ butterworth – which helped prevent early onset cirrosis in my case.

brian also brought a wonderful present for me up on the plane, it was a total surprise, but i suspect dave was also involved! I was actually overwhelmed a bit, its a magnificent gift and will take pride of place at rick’s bar & grill.

march-51

our original plan had been to charter a boat for a few days and do a barra fishing trip, but it proved to be so expensive that we bought a small mercedes each instead and decided to spend 6 days camped down at paradise, a.k.a bawaka, we took both dave’s and my boats down and sal drove the troopy down.

we asked timmy to come down too, so we could get him out on the boats and also have him create a cultural education experience for our visitors. he came down on the friday and spent the weekend with us, also bringing djakapurra and yarrangu as well as djaka’s son russell who is a year older than kai.

march

caitie, sal, brian & dave

we had a few days in town before heading out, and brian, dave and I actually did a run down to bawaka to take some of the gear down and make sure all was ready for our visit. as usual the days were started at rick’s bar & grill with coffees and usually ended there with dinner!

friday morning we launched the boats at yirrkala and set off for bawaka while sal headed down by road, it was a perfect morning with glass off conditions and flat seas, i only stopped for about 45 seconds to catch a large mackeral for dinner!

the most exciting thing on the first night was the appearance of wititj, or the olive python as he frightened the life out of russell by slithering across the sand towards him as he sat beside the camp fire after dinner! it was well over 3m long and one of the biggest I have seen, after a bit of fumbling in the dark I managed to pick him up and relocate him into the swamp – well away from our beds!

as you can see our effort at camping more properly falls into the category of glamping – proven by the fact that we lugged dave’s espresso machine out there so we could have a proper start to the day with freshly roasted coffee from arnhem roastery!

saturday we decided the weather was perfect for a run down the coast towards the group of islands known as the three hummocks. timmy was very keen to visit an island which he is named after, he told me it was deadly island – which I couldnt find on the map, but as it turned out i had misheard him and it was actually dudley island! the yolngu name of the island is murrmurrgu, and timmy had never been there so it was a very emotional trip for him.

we followed the coast down and trolled around any likely looking islands or rocks and got a nice range of fish, and some unwanted ones like sal’s shark!

we stopped at one of the three hummocks for lunch, it was actually 2 islands joined by an amazing sand spit, and it wouldn’t have been hard to stop there for the rest of the day! it was totally protected by the other islands around it in every direction, the water was crystal clear and the sand was soft and clean.

when we arrived at murrmurrgu we discovered an even better beach if possible, it plunged straight down into deep water and was just an idyllic location, it was beautiful to see how emotionally affected timmy was by the chance to visit his island – and that alone made the whole week worthwhile just to be able to take him there. I dont think any of us will forget the experience for a long time.

that will do for part 1, i will try to put together a part 2 post later this weekend.

i did record a little video of timmy talking about his experience in visiting his namesake island for the first time,

Nov 292014
 

KI2  003we rose yesterday to a stunning king island spring day, after a leisurely sleep in, and decided that it was the perfect day to head out on the boat for a fish. we hooked up with a couple of andrew & di’s neighbours, dave and tim, and rendevoued at the boat ramp. we launched and set off for christmas and new years island which lay just off the coast from the blake house.

the plan was for the boys, andrew, tim & dave to go diving while i took the girls and kai to the beach on christmas island – as keen as i am to get in the water and kill things, the water temp in bass strait is below my threshold!

we found a sheltered cove and had a fat old time, the girls sunbathed on the beach while kai and i scrambled over the rocks exploring the coastline, like two rock monkeys. well one rock monkey and one slightly overweight old man.

meanwhile the hunters were hard at work collecting abalone and crayfish, all of the catch was very kindly donated to our household so i shall be doing a big seafood cookup over the weekend.

after getting back in and cleaning up we got ready to head out for a highlight of the king island social calendar, the Sustainable Agricultural Fund’s Annual Christmas hoe down at the old reekara school, it seemed most of king island’s population turned out for the 2 spit roasted pigs, chargrilled lambs, and wallaby haunchs as well as about 10m of salads laid out on tables.

we got to meet a lot of the very friendly and welcoming locals and kai had a ball running round all night with the local kids. the pork was perfect, and the lamb and wallaby cooked on the Argentinean grill was as good as I have ever had.

the Argentinean grill was interesting because as you will see in the photos, they have a very low level charcoal layer under the meat, but the main cooking is done by the fire on top of the grill, this means there are no flare ups of fire from dripping fat as the meat cooks.

 

Nov 132014
 

nov 19

so d-day approaches apace, 4 days and we are off on our gap year. we are slowly working thru the to-do list prior to departure, the fact that we are coming back makes it a series of tasks without pressure, what we dont get done, we dont get done!

the fact that we are effectively spending the first month doing a rellie-run lessens the anticipation, excitement and nervousness, I think if we were taking off straight to a new country it would be both more exciting and intimidating.

the photo above for me portrays what I know we will miss, sitting out on our back verandah, with my dear wife, shirtless (me, not her), sipping a cheeky sauv blanc and demolishing a whole crispy skin golden snapper, with Thai tamarind and chilli sauce on rice. we caught the fish on our boat, its a sweaty build up night with the dark, dusk sky filled with grey, stormy clouds. this is our life – and i know i shall miss it.

its been a pretty foody november, got off to a rollicking start when i was going thru one of the freezers and found a lovely pork belly, i marinated it in a bourbon marinade and then dry rubbed it with 17 secret spices and herbs. it was onto the weber smokey mountain cooker then for a few hours slow roasting. i had a tray of spuds in the lower rack and they gently roasted in the drizzle of piggy fat, i dont know that it would have got the tick from the heart foundation, but hey its ok occasionally isnt it?!

melbourne cup was next cab off the rank, the gurls were off for a big knees up at the walkabout, but i took the opportunity to do a warm smoked chicken salad with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce for brunch, you cant really go wrong with anything that involves a properly made hollandaise!

sal had a poor day at the races, she spends days before the big race studing form guides, tea leaves and tarot cards and nearly always comes home drunk and cashed up. at least she still came home drunk!

i sort of get the feeling i should have split this post in 2! anyway, we are on the home straight now! we managed to get a day in fishing with dave, in between preparations at home, we went out on dave’s boat and while it was less than perfect conditions, we had a great day, caught a couple of little mackies, a huge queenfish and a big barracouta. we had lunch at SE Bremmer island and enjoyed a swim in the balmy build up waters! the mackeral got thrown on the char grill with lashings of olive oil and salt with grilled limes.

kade had his birthday last saturday and spent the day cooking a piggy on a spit, its a bloody big job, especially with a hand cranked spit, and sitting around a fire pit in the build up is a bit like cooking in a sauna, but the end result was magnificent and we all had a rollicking good time.

somewhere in there we had a few spots of rain one afternoon, kai stood out the back shivering and if you look closely you can see the rain drops on the concrete, it was the first hint of the wet, with no rain since july.

kai also won a principal’s award for  being a “thoughtful, friendly and helpful student, best wishes on your world wide adventure”

earlier this week i found a big eye fillet in the freezer so i whacked it into slabs and chucked it on the char grill, dead animal singed on coal cant be beaten, it is the best argument against vegetarians and other food deviants.

that should round out the pics and the last update before we depart on monday, irregular updates will cover our meandering around the globe so stay tuned – please subscribe at the top of the right hand frame, that way you will get an email everytime i post an update!

 

 

Oct 182014
 

film 6Last weekend sal had to pop over to darwin for an MRI, it was just routine and a confirmation that all is well before we head off on our gap year, but it meant that kai had to come to work with me – because we had a group travelling to bawaka to shoot a fillum!

tourism australia are making a new international advertisment promoting indigenous cultural tourism and had commissioned warwick thornton of sampson and delilah fame to make it, they had done a reccy previously, visiting us as part of a month of travelling australia and visiting suitable locations. now they were back to actually shoot the final footage.

they brought ‘talent’ with them, a woman and a man who are portrayed visiting the various parts of australia featured in the ad, ayers rock, mossman gorge, cape leveque, mount borradaile and here, the talent are shown having a grand old time with the locals and hopefully more cashed up international visitors will be inspired to come and visit!

kai was included in some of the scenes so he may or may not make it past the cutting room floor!

the highlight of the whole experience was probably warwick catching a very decent barra off the rocks at the front of bawaka, the leader broke just as he got it to shore and his son, dylan dived in and grabbed the slightly disorientated and very unlucky barra before it could make its escape!

this event would be challenged for highlight status by the sight of my flesh and blood dressed in a summery skirt and sleeveless blouse, hamming it up with the girls!

i shot a little bit of video of the performance of ‘djapana’ the song and dance about the sunset, specifically the sunset viewed from bawaka, this is the inspiration for the song of the same name by yothu yindi which was one of their best known songs.

 

 Posted by at 7:50 am  Tagged with: ,



Oct 042014
 

oct 5

ancient cycads scattered amongst ancient rocks, after the fires. classic end of the dry season scene in arnhem land, i just love the contrast of the charcoal black with the luminescent green new growth. the cycads date from the jurassic era – about 200m years ago, the rocks are some of the oldest in the world – formed in the precambrian era over 400 million years ago!

i have been busy out and about again, with trips to bawaka, bukudal and gan gan in the last couple of weeks, i had a great time at gan gan chatting to the old man, Dr Garrawin Gumuna, he is the only surviving Yirrkala Church Panel artist and despite his age his mind is as sharp as a knife and the wit is nicely honed too!

we have had our old mate phil obrien staying again while he helps out with a few tours, always a pleasure to have around and one of the last real gentlemen larrikins, they broke the mould with phil!

sal has also had a friend from sydney, helen, stay for a week or so, they hadnt seen each other since sal and i met so it was lovely for sal to catch up and spend time with her.

vic has also been hanging around for a few weeks, vic bought my old boat and used to be a teacher at yirrkala, he had an epiphany and he and his family left so he could do medicine and after 3 years he has come back to do a 6 week placement, melissa and the kids also came up for about a week so it was fantastic to catch up for both families.

we also met peter and alissa who are friends of our friends steve & bridget, peter & alissa are living in new york where steve and bridget are currently based and had popped back to australia to watch the bunnies in their first grand final in 42 years, they decided on a whirlwind tour of arnhem land this week.

i only have a couple more weeks work and sal finishes up at the end of the month and then our gap year starts on november the 17th when we head to tassie, so its really getting a tangible reality now!

so here are a few photos of the last few weeks,

sal, helen, kai and i spent 3 days earlier this week camping at bawaka, here are a few images,

finally a gallery of the visitors!

 

Sep 112014
 

sept 4this week we have had a definite change in the weather, winds have been very light and actually swung round to the NW a couple of times – which suggests an early build up to me!

tuesday sal & i spent the afternoon out on the boat in glass off conditions, i had also done a dawn run with vic in the morning, fishing was crap due to the full moon but conditions were magnificent,

the last 2 days I have been down at bawaka cooking for a tour of rio management, beautiful foggy mornings and sunny, still days – the nights were much warmer than a week ago when i was last out camping. the photo above is the sunset last night.

this is sunrise on tuesday,

sept 1and later in the day heading towards arnhem shoals with sal,

sept 2

another sunset from bawaka to finish off,

sept 3

hopefully the fishing will pick up!

 

 

 Posted by at 7:54 pm  Tagged with:



Sep 072014
 

dads day  008

starting at the end, my mate, vic, who is back for 6 weeks doing a placement with various health providers, went spearfishing yesterday and came back with 4 lovely crays, a big reef mangrove jack and a blue bone. we cooked up the crays in a coconut cream curry sauce tonite and set a little aside for sashimi.

one of the crays was full of bright red roe, so i made a roe mayonnaise to have with the sashimi. we woofed the cray curry down and saved the fish for tomorrow night!

earlier in the day vic had come around for a coffee, and due to the rest of my family still being in bed after a big night last night, vic and I drove out and hooked up with a mutual friend who took us to a beautiful and secret, fresh water spot. we tried flicking some plastics for a saratoga or barra, without any success. still it was a lovely way to spend dad’s day – with a couple of other dads and out in the bush!

 Posted by at 8:07 pm  Tagged with:



Jun 012014
 

gary  008

the last couple of weeks we have had gary and his son tim, staying with us. gary is an old mate of my brother, simon’s and they have been threatening to come for a fishing trip for about 10 years, simon is always too busy and finally gary got sick of waiting and rang me and told me he was coming and as simon was once again unavailable he decieded to bring his son tim.

i guess simon does have the excuse this year that he and his family are just about to head off to canada for a month, but he missed out on a pretty damn fine adventure!

we have struggled with the weather a bit, its been very windy for virtually their whole visit, with typical dry season south easterlies of  15-20kts every day, but we have made the most of it. their first day here i took them to my seekrit spot to try for some land based barra and we got a few nice fish, the photo above is tim’s first barra so that got things off to a good start.

gary  009

the next couple of days we worked hard for little reward, bashing across the bay so we could fish the creeks, we got a couple of fish and a feed of mudcrab, so it wasnt a total loss. the little croc having a snooze on the sandback was about 20m from where i jumped out of the boat to push us across a shallow spot trying to get into the giddys river at low tide. i had a good look in the water before jumping in, but forgot to look on the bank! luckily he was having a nanna nap in the cool conditions!

the second week we headed out on the hama pearl ii for a 3 day charter in buckingham bay, the plan was to target barra, but we had left our run a bit late in the year, the cool water and lack of run off meant there were not many barra around and the ones that we caught were mainly rats. the trip was saved by a couple of days of fishing the reefs off the front of kurella creek where we were anchored. we caught a heap of goldies and quite a few big jewfish.

on the last day kai and i climbed to the top of the hill on the bank of the kurella river and took some pics of the hama pearl anchored in the river, finally thanks to brad and kim for an amazing charter, we had our stomachs stretched with a constant stream of fantastic food, from full cooked breakfasts everyday, yummy cakes and biscuits, filling lunches, plates of nibblies to have with cold beers at the end of a long days fishing, magnificent dinners and filling desserts! the boat was always spotlessly clean, nothing too much trouble for our hosts, cool beds in the air con cabin and hot showers!

if anyone is considering a charter in arnhem land you cant go past ss charters, http://www.sscharters.com.au

all in all its been a great couple of weeks, many fine memories for all involved and we are already making plans for another trip when the weather is more conducive to bagging the elusive barra!

Apr 202014
 

nyinyikay  010

friday saw me headed off to nyinyikay, a small homeland on the tip of arnhem bay, i was joining lirrwi tourism in supporting a film crew shooting some reality TV rubbish involving 6 young city things being taken out of the surburban comfort zone and being confronted with challenges to their personal stereotypes. its all pretty voyeuristic and exploitive, but they wanted to shoot an episode in arnhem land, hence we were driving 5 vehicles, 2 towing trailers, in torrential, tropical rain, 4 hours from nhulun to nyinyikay.

we had to cater for 15 crew as well as the cast of 6, so its a lot of resources, tents, stretcher beds, bedding, food and drinks for 21 people for 4 days over easter. given that it had been raining for the last 3 days solid, we were not sure whether we would even be able to get out to nyinyikay , nor whether the cast & crew would be able to fly in on saturday morning.

as it turned out the rain did stop on saturday so we were able to get all the tents set up in time and we had the catering set up on the verandah of the house we were staying in so we had shelter if it rained again. the whole entourage, with thousands of kilos of camera and sound gear, flew in on about 5 seperate small charter flights from gove airport.

between looking after the clients, we were able to get some good fishing in, i think we ended up with about 5 barra that were keepers, half a dozen each of blue salmon, mangrove jack and golden snapper.

all of the families of the nyinyikay community were fantastic with sharing their culture and land with the visiting mob, and its certainly a good example of the potential for cultural tourism in the region and the benefits it can bring to small communities seeking sustainable economic models.

i dont know what the TV show is called even, so i cant tell you to watch out for it anyway, which is just as well because i think the cringe factor will be high.

 

Apr 112014
 

april  002so today was a perfect, windless, wet season day, so we loaded the tinny up and headed out for a fish, the plan was to head up to last chance shoal to troll for a few macks and then on to cape wilberforce for some bottom bouncing on some bommies up there, finishing up with lunch on the beach at elizabeth bay.

the best laid plans of mice & men etc…..we got up to last chance shoal and almost straight away hooked up a fish, i told kai to pull it in and so he started pulling the trolling line in, it came really easy as if it were a very small fish, but when it got to the boat I realised it was a big mack and it was very green – it saw the boat and me swing down to gaff it and it went mental, as it took off vertically out of the water at the back of the boat it tore the hydraulic line out of the ram for the steering on the motor!

i spent the best part of an hour trying to repair it, but had no luck so I had to macgyver a hand steering setup with the gaff, an old boat hook, a roll of duct tape and some cord line! anyway it got us home so alls well that ends well!

dinner was kai’s mackerel turned into thai fish cakes, mango salsa and mountain rice.

 

Apr 022014
 

april  016this morning i was reminded of why this is such a special place and how much i love my life here! i decided to go for a fish today and on checking the tides saw it was high tide at about 10:30, i wanted to fish the turn and fall of the tide chasing some barra in the bay, so I chucked a couple of rods in the boat and about mid morning headed out to catalinas to launch. 5 minutes later I was over in the mangroves on the other side of the bay  –   the only boat on the water, a light breeze and sun shining!

I spent a couple of hours working the rocky outcrops and mangroves as the tide started to fall and pull the bait out of their cover, using the electric Minn Kota means its stealth mode and you get to see everything going on in the water, i saw schools of beautiful diamond rays, black backs speckled with white spots, i saw little reef sharks cruising the shallows, schools of mullet and gars, sea eagles waiting for lunch and jabiru storks flying past.

The barra were proving hard to raise, but a beautiful big squid, sparkling iridescent colours, showed more than a passing interest in my soft plastic prawn, but he was too slow and a golden snapper stormed out from a rock and snatched the prawn from in front of the squid, it wasnt long before a mangrove jack was added to the esky and then I had a good battle on light gear with a decent tarpon. in between i caught a few small trevally and a fat old black bream.

I was back at the boat ramp by 1:30 so a quick 3 hours on the water, a wealth of wildlife observed, a couple of nice keepers in the esky, some fish for family on the way home and life is good!

 

 

 Posted by at 4:31 pm