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Thread: Northwest Island Camping advice.

  1. #1

    Northwest Island Camping advice.

    Hi there.

    I am currently looking at putting a camping trip together with a couple of mates to northwest island in either October or November this year.

    Presently we are looking at a week on the island (depending on ferries / weather) .

    I have had a look through Ausfish and some other websites for as much information as I can but I would like to hear from anyone with first hand experience camping on the island .

    Some of the questions I have are, is it better to go in October or November ? heat, bugs , tourist crowds?

    camping location , I have heard that the mutton birds can be a pest is there a better location or camp site set up to avoid them ie camp on the west side or east side , do or don't camp under the trees?

    The other question I have will probably be a preference question for most but I have a 4.5m 40hp tinnie or a 6 m fibreglass boat , do I take the tinnie and put it on the ferry and fish the local area or drive the fibreglass boat out from gladstone with extra fuel and all the gear to have access to a wider area of fishing grounds?

    Is the lagoon at low tide suitable to beach a fibreglass boat or will I end up damaging the hull on coral and rocks? I am currently leaning towards the tinnie as its easier to tow up from Brisbane and if were are on the ferry we are probably less dependent on the weather getting out and back to the island?

    If anyone has any other tips or helpfull advice it would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers Hunter

  2. #2

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    As a gladstone local I can offer some help.

    The barge trip is expensive to run the tinnie trailer over. The 6m glass boat will get you to the island with all your gear very easily.

    Solar panels and a fridge is a must for keeping 5days worth of fish.

    No petrol generators or fires allowed. Gas cooking only.

    The mutton birds are not too bad. Just have a good solid food container and keep everything packed up when your not around.

    The access in and out is best done on smaller tides. So keep the dates scheduled around the neap tides. Leaving the boat in the water is a preferred option and just walk back to shore. Snorkelling gear is helpful to wrap the anchor chain around a bombie for nighttime anchoring.

    It's worth a call to the barge company for any future school camps being booked on the island. Obviously avoid them.
    But generally you should have the island deserted.

    The big boat will need 150km of fuel just to get out and back. So work out your consumption loaded up with gear and take extra for the day trips to close reefs/shoals.

    Another option for the boat to be beached is a well positioned piece of carpet under the keel on the sand. At half tide etc.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Damo's dodgy boat repairs.
    1993 bermuda by Haines 530f - completed resto.
    1976 cruisecraft rogue 14 - estuary weapon.
    1984 vickers easyrider 156 - future project.

  3. #3

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    Hi Rip it up.

    Thanks for the advice that's very helpful especially the tip regarding the carpet. I appreciate your time in typing it out.
    Do you have a preference for either October or November or it dosen't matter?


  4. #4

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    Just call the barge company to check on bookings over that timeframe.

    But anytime around then will be fine.

    Storms and weather patterns are hard to pick in advance. So I would just look at a week in advance and call it on the weather.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Damo's dodgy boat repairs.
    1993 bermuda by Haines 530f - completed resto.
    1976 cruisecraft rogue 14 - estuary weapon.
    1984 vickers easyrider 156 - future project.

  5. #5

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    In general winter is calmer so pick winter months over summer months. Is my suggestion..
    I've not been to NWI though this generally applies in QLD.

  6. #6

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    My information is quite old so some things may have changed considerably since then but this is what we did. We used to do the trip up until the mid 90's when the place got screwed up with a company that brought backpackers over on an almost permanent basis and introduced mice to the island, they got into everything, are they still there.

    We always got together anywhere from 8 to 12 people and booked the entire barge, worked out cheaper as we usually stayed for 10 to 14 days. We would load 3 or 4 tinnies and tow out 2 bigger boats, one fibreglass and one plate ally as well as all the fuel and water etc which could at that stage be organised through the Robert Polson (does it still run).

    Don't camp right under a lovely big Pisonia tree as they have a habit of dropping a branch without warning, on one occassion we were having morning tea ata neighboring camp one year when a branch about 300 mm diam just fell and smashed the kitchen area.

    You can see the tracks the mutton birds use to access the beach, if you put your tent up directly in front of them you will be guaranteed that they will try to crawl up yourtent at 3 or 4 am in the morning, takes them forever to work their way around, one of the dumbest birds around. Their calls at night sound quite spooky for newbies.

    Definitely get tides times for the area as you generally get time your trips to coincide around half tide mark, any lower and you will have to walk your boats in and out, big glass boat only after half tide, we got caught out a few times and had to sit it out until the next tide, long wait. There used to be a small concrete pad with a pole at the edge of the reef (we used to call it the pin) that served as the best entry/exit to the lagoon. Good quality reef shoes are a must have.

    The qld govt in their wisdom removed the old hut that used to be on the foreshore as it wasn't endemic to the island, the water tank used to be our supply for our solar showers, but then went and built anaerobic toilets, great logic there.

    Loved the place and would like to revisit it for old times sake.

  7. #7

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    Thanks very much for the advice dignity its appreciated.

  8. #8

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    I've been there a few times ... part of a big group and also as a family by ourselves.
    It's fantastic and one of the best places on earth.
    Take the bigger glass boat and go a day earlier than the barge. Take a basic camping setup in your boat and get the barge to bring over the rest of your gear along with your water and extra fuel. They don't charge very much to fill one of their cage containers on the boat. The even took our three way freezers over for us, running them in their shed for a day and then again all the way over on the barge.
    The fishing around the island isn't as good as it used to be - you need to run further now for better fish. Douglas Shoal, Innaminka Shoal, East of Wilson Island etc.
    The mutton birds will be there at that time of the year - cover your tent with a tarp to help cleaning when you get home.
    I've taken a 26 foot glass cat over and left it in the lagoon with no problems. Pick your piece of sand and remove coral lumps as required as the tide drops. Take a bigger anchor and leave it permanently set up in the lagoon on a boy and clip to it when you come back. Boats have been known to wash ashore in a storm there.
    Overall - just enjoy. We will be going up in April next year.

  9. #9

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    Thanks Brett thats a great idea about the ferry taking some of the supplies.
    appreciate the help.

  10. #10

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    Agree with the points made so far.

    We went out for a week in May last year, had an absolute ball, will go back again for sure.

    There was a small school group when we were there of maybe 15-20 kids. They were no problem at all, in fact the teachers were quite friendly and even helped us to get out to our boat in their rubber ducky when we had to anchor out off the reef one night.

    We went in my mates Seafarer Victory and took all our camping gear in the boat, had to travel pretty light but it was all good.

    The lagoon dries up at low tide. We could only get out about 2 hours either side of high. This was a pain!
    No problem to anchor in the lagoon, as we just used a sandy spot. No damage to boat at all.
    One night we got back on dusk and missed the tide so had to anchor out. It blew up that night and to be honest it was a risk that the anchor would drag and the boat end up on the reef. It was a big mistake by us getting back too late. You really need to go out fishing on a high and come back on the next high.

    No real problem to come in at night as there is a post (with reflector tape as height markers) to mark the channel entrance and a road sign up on the beach that reflects, so just come in beside the pole and head straight at the road sign.

    Mice were a big problem, thousands of them. Make sure you take secure boxes for food.

    Birds were no problem. In fact they were a bit of an attraction to keep us amused. We took a shade shelter to set up our 'kitchen' under, and that worked well to keep any bird crap off the important stuff.

  11. #11

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    As bugman mentioned clear the site, we also used to take a shovel out on the first day at low tide a bury the anchor about 2 ft down to which the buoy was attached. It was a life saver as we were there when cyclone Aivu crossed the coast with a high tide that lasted over 2 hours and a few waves come over the dunes ,but the boats never dragged anchor. The Rangers were building the toilets at the time and were evacuated and they had a Chinook at Rocky on standby in case we needed to be evacuated. 2 days after everything was fine and we had some of the best fishing ever.

  12. #12

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    This place sounds like real adventure, I'd be keen to do this trip one day. Hope your trip goes well and don't forget to put up a report.

  13. #13
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    off the beaten track

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Almako View Post
    This place sounds like real adventure, I'd be keen to do this trip one day. Hope your trip goes well and don't forget to put up a report.

    Reading this forum with great interest and trying to grasp all necessary knowledge on tides, avoiding camp-schools and alike.

    We are planning to drive up from Brisbane together with my son and spend a week or so visiting Lady Musgrave and Northwest Islands. We have booked camping sites for January 2019.

    We would need some good advise as to how to get to the islands, the ferry services are quite infrequent and do not match with our timetable 12-19 January.

    Is there a possibility to getting a ride on a boat that would be heading towards the islands?
    Are there boats on hire at reasonable cost or would it be too expensive or too dangerous for a non-local (Finland) to navigate to the islands?

    James MacGyver Bond

  14. #14

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    Hi James. I canít help you as I live in a different part of this wonderful country. Iím sure those that know the location well will be able to assist.

    Sent from my iPhone using Ausfish forums

  15. #15

    Re: Northwest Island Camping advice.

    James macgyver bond. Unfortunately there is limited boat hire options in this part of the coast. January has the potential to be cyclone season. Or at least the occasional low depression which brings rough conditions on the water for a 6m boat to reach north West Island. You might need to be flexible with your dates

    The barge would be your best bet. But not sure if you would be able to hire a small boat from the ferry service to use while your out there.

    Plenty of locals do the trip out regularly though. Iím sure you could discuss travel dates on a Gladstone fishing group in Facebook.

    I would offer a taxi service myself. But I am away on holidays myself during those dates.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Damo's dodgy boat repairs.
    1993 bermuda by Haines 530f - completed resto.
    1976 cruisecraft rogue 14 - estuary weapon.
    1984 vickers easyrider 156 - future project.

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