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Thread: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

  1. #1

    Question Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    Howd'y all FNQ travelers.

    I am pretty keen to hit the above mentioned areas in 2020.

    Probably tow a 4.5 - 5mtr tinnie there.

    Any and all info passed on now is appreciated. Obviously, those with first hand experience would be ideal.

    Info like:-

    best campsite and why

    minimum tackle for land based and close to shore waters

    areas for boating within about 20k's of base

    do's and don'ts

    to take and not to take...

    time of year

    Cheers LP
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  2. #2

    Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    Wow this brings back memories. Went right up north about 10 years ago. We took a small tinnie. Should have left it at home. Had to much fun other than fishing.

    Sorry not much help. As for Cape Melville we actually stayed right at the point (southern end of beach. It was a hard slog along the soft sand. There was a resident crock who used to get his catch of turtles and feed on the beach about 400 metres from camp. Never came near us.

    Good luck with the trip.

    Sent from my iPhone using Ausfish forums

  3. #3

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    I went to Cape Melville and stayed in July last year.

    We camped at the furtherest beach camp area to the East - about 10-15km form the first camp area when you arrive.
    The National Park booking advises tent camping only - we had 3 vehicles, families and little kids all with camper trailers. On advice from a local ranger, we took the campers anyway. The advise was "tent only" as people not equipped dragging trailers blame the ranges. However they advised of 6m boats getting in.
    We had no dramas, although areas were tight and the larger campers came back with a few pin stripes.

    I had a compact serious off road camper on a 200 serious. Never a concern. The others were mildly modified pajeros with hard floor campers. They lost a few stabiliser legs, split an alloy wheel (which was near new and should not have happened, dented a roof etc, but was al relatively minor inn the scheme of things.

    Fuel was a bit of an issue for the Pajeros - they had no extra jerries. From memory needed a range of 480k between fuel stops - meant they parked up on arrival and then left, with no travel in the area. 200 series was fine with stock tank, probably had 50-100k in reserve (plus I was smart enough to carry a spare 20L). Beach is soft and on a steepish incline to the water in places. Not an issue if you have driven on sand before, or go down to 15psi. If alone and a little inexperienced, have recovery gear for the sand and know how to use it.

    Of the 4 camp areas, there was 2 other groups total (and we were in the July "busy" school holiday period). one group of guys fishing who go annually told us they had never ever seen camper trailers go up the beach, let alone "family groups".
    The first camp area, named "crocodile" has a big wet partly marshy tidal area behind. We were assured there is a big salty that lives there and to be very careful at night with kids etc, so we did not go there. However we never saw evidence of crocks, including a bit of night time spotlighting down the beach. But the regular guys up there were pretty clear with warnings about fishing near the waters edge etc, so I am sure they were there.
    Tracks from the first camp area to the far end of the beach skirt the back of the beach at least half way, it gets pretty tight but a tinny in tow would be no issue. I think the 2 further est camp areas were probably best. Beach launching a tinny would be ok anywhere.

    The far camp area that we were in was a few minutes walk until you were picking around the rocks on the headland. Pretty spectacular backdrop of massive multi story sized smooth boulders which make up the headland...

    Fishing. I had the family and the others were form Adelaide - so not into fishing!. So I only went once with quite light gear around the headland. small poppers were guaranteed to get trevally. The guys fishing there advised me a further 50m around and they were getting smoked on 80lb braid and heavy gear regularly by big fish - So I stayed where I was with 10lb braid a 9' travel rod and limited number of poppers!.

    Weather - check re boating. I believe East Coast can be windy for chuncks of the year, particularly through winter from memory. Bathurst Bay was not on our itinerary, so I can;t comment, it may be better for boating???

    The road in. I forget the distances exactly, but was around a 4-5 hour trip (with a wheel change etc). The first half is fine, sit on 40-80km/hour. But it progressively gets tighter after the Bathurst Heads turn off and the speed drops away, until your picking along in 1-2 gear.
    In the scheme of places we went, it was not what I would consider extreme to tow into. I dragged the same camper the first half of the Tele track, and never pulled out a recovery device (but watched lost of vehicles not towing have winches and straps out regularly on the same creek exits, and witnessed some of the dumbest, vehicle destroying stuff I have ever seen people try to do in 4wd's.). On the flip side 1st low, 18PSI in a Landcruiser made them look a little silly.
    We also did the second half of the Tele track without the camper trailer on and without the other families (Pajero broke a CV climbing out of Gunshot). I didnlt want to risk a 2 year old Landcrusier in creek crossings alone, but in the end think I could have dragged the camper ok. But not the Pajeros! In retrospect the only recovery gear used to get us all to Cape Melville was a tyre gauge, and that was when one of the guys that had never been on a beach confused 15PSI with 25PSI, cause he thought 15 sounded a bit low. He learnt!.
    We also went into Usher point without the rest of the group - we were the only ones there and saw one other car in 2 days. It was a bit easier going for comparison if you have ever been in there.

    Cape Melville is remote, in the sense you may find there is no one else there, or possibly kilometers down the beach to the next group, so go prepared and the rest is pretty easy.
    I just wish I could have had a boat up there....

    PS. PM me an email and I am sure I can find a few pics at Cape Melville.

  4. #4

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    Cheers Darren, great info.

    Will keep all of that in mind.

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  5. #5

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    We went back in 05. By the sounds of what Darren has written the trip in was similar. We had 2 Cruiser utes, a patrol ute and a Prado. We towed in 2 tinnys and the Prado bought a camper. It wasn't too hard but there was a bit of tyre pressure dropping and the odd snatch for the Prado. As an old timer we met put it "it was all going OK but eventually you find yourself in the low reduction gears". We didn't get offshore but headed up the coast and into the Muck River. Fishing was fine without being mind blowing but we did better the longer we were there. Plenty of crabs and plenty of crocs but the most common thing was sand-flies. Like I have never seen before and hope to never see again. I would go back as a fishing only trip and try and get in during the warmest months I could. This seems like the only picture I have uploaded


  6. #6

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    1 looking back towards the West

    2 beach starting to wrap around the heads.

    3 typical easy going part of the track in, where it had opened out more.

    4 further around the head

    5 typical beach with bogged Pajero driver calling for Maxtrax while I let his tyres down. There was not really any hard sand at any point of the tide.
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  7. #7

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    We did the trip to Bathurst Bay about 4 and a half years ago towing a 6m cat and 5m tinny.

    We timed our trip to coincide with high tides in the morning and afternoon as theres 150m or so of mud from the beach to the water at low tide and this worked well with going fishing all day.

    On the way in we found a nice bit of bank andropped the boats in the Marret River and drove them around to where we were camp3d on the beach. It took a similar amount of time as driving the cars and trailers through the last rough section of track.

    We had absolute rubbish weather the whole week we were there but it was not much of a slog to run out to the Flinders islands where it was pretty protected in the 25knt winds.

    Plenty of reefs to fish and the shelf is only 20Nm if you wanted some deep dropping for some bigger pelagics. Lots of barra along the headlands and beaches, trout, nannies, mackeral and marlin around the islands.

    Plenty of site seeing to do as well with rock paintings an old resort and there was a water troughwhere we were getting fresh water from washing up and showers.

    Hope this helps some mate, I'd love to do the trip again with better weather.
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  8. #8

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    On a side note note we stopped at Mission Beach on the way home and had a cracking day smashing the trout and mackys on the close in reefs.

  9. #9

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    any chance of you guys doing a google earth pic and pin point your camp sites ? Oh, and the fresh water well ?

    cheers Phill
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  10. #10

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    The camp areas (Cape Melville) are roughly numbered. I think the DERM site may also have a more detailed map, each zone has a name.
    When you zoom in on Google Maps it even gives a rough idea of where the track skirts the back of the beach, and then jumps onto the beach.
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  11. #11

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    My last trip there was 1999 so could be lots of changes but Bathurst Bay is quite a nice place, sitting on the beach looking north out to sea while the sun rises over land on the east and sets over land to the west. As to when to go check on when the strong SE Trade Winds blow as they can blow quite continuously and at night can get worse due to the heat generated from the almost black granite of Cape Melville. I used to take spare rods for my little dome tent (mainly as we often would only spend 1 or 2 nights in our travel) and with the wind virtually beating vertically downwards it snapped the odd fibreglass rod at times. There was talk of building a resort on Bathurst Head, I don't know what become of it. The only trouble we had getting in with trailers and boats back then was getting across Barrumundi Creek (at least that's what regulars called it, the crossing included trying to negotiate at an angle between a couple of trees that had been heavily trimmed and if the track wasn't watched a slip into the stumps on either side was on the cards, my mate was there last year and said it was reasonably straight forward. Crocs are generally found near the waterways and lagoons at times and as usual always be aware. We never got as far as Marrett River in Princess Charlotte Bay as we never spent enough days there and always plenty to explore. We found in those days the professional crabbers usually got into the place running 35" tyres and chewing up the tracks as soon as they could so crabbing was not as good as it should be but later in the season I believe it gets better.

  12. #12

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    Phill we camped just up a bit further on the beach not to far from where the track came out.

    As for the water it was full of iron with a real reddish colour I did drink it one night when i woke up in the horrors and couldn't find anything else with no noticable side effects.

    As for the exact location of it I'm not 100% sure as I drove one of the boats in when the boys did the first run for water.

    I did do a trip up there late one arvo with a skin full and know it was back around the salt pan a bit and off a little side track at the base of a small hill (not much help there sorry).

    There was a black poly pipe running out of a hill into a cattle trough which was constantly running.

    I did hear a rumour that the locals had closed it off a year or so ago after someone shot a scrub bull and left the carcass there.

    I'll chat to the other guys and see if I can dig up some more info for you.
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  13. #13

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    Dignity they did build the resort but it got abandoned as they didn't have the right licenses/permits from the epa.
    The ruins were still there when we went but the cyclone a few years ago may have destroyed what was left of it.

  14. #14

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    Quote Originally Posted by marto78 View Post
    Dignity they did build the resort but it got abandoned as they didn't have the right licenses/permits from the epa.
    The ruins were still there when we went but the cyclone a few years ago may have destroyed what was left of it.
    Marto, sounds about right, there really wasn't anything worthwhile of the original resort apart from some pvc piping sticking out.

    Cheers Sam.

    Phill, trying to find photos but only a few that I can readily get my hand on and mostly of us campers. now I'm on a mission to find all my missing photos.

  15. #15

    Re: Info . Bathurst Bay and Cape Melville

    I believe that's a google image of the resort where the 2 rows of 3 white objects are with the longer one behind it.

    It sat up on the hill overlooking that little bay with the creek at the end.
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