Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing
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Thread: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

  1. #1

    Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    This is the short story... hahaha

    Many months in the planning and the time has arrived for our Cape Melville adventure. 8 people, 4 boats, 5 vehicles, a hybrid caravan and a trailer filled with gear. Departing Brisvegas we made our way north only stopping for fuel until we hit Rockhampton and the big boats trailer decided to spit a bearing. We were prepared for this with a couple of spare complete hubs, so in no time we were off again and pulled into Clairview for a nights rest. An early start ensued and at the end of the day, Cardwell was in sight and time for a shower and feed at the Hotel. Our next destination was Lakeland Roadhouse where we filled boats, vehicles, jerry cans with a total fuel bill of close to $2,000 at $2.38 / ltr. This was our last place to get fuel for the next 2 weeks. Back on the bitumen to Laura and then off on the dirt road and tyres pressures down, onto Kalpower Crossing for the night.

    The car towing the big boat and another car detoured to Musgrave and then to the Annie River to launch the big boat, which was to be driven out the river, into Princess Charlotte Bay and around Bathurst Head to meet us at Crocodile Camp the next day. The car lads met us later that night at Kalpower, along with the stragglers in the Troopie and tinnie. From here the roads deteriorated and from the Wakooka Rd intersection the going was slow with about 5 hours to travel about 120 kilometers to our beach camp site.



    The next 3 hours saw us set up camp, make a fuel storage area away from everything and shaded with tarps, marquees, showers, toilets, tents, spit, fridges, solar blankets and more, ready for the next 2 weeks of fishing and crabbing. Our first night, we sat at the camp fire and had a trip postmortem and talked about the next days plans. Wind was our issue, but the next three days presented an opportunity for the big boat to go wide, while the smaller boats tested the creeks and close islands. Many crab pots were set and day two saw over 20 Muddies in the esky and then later into the cooker. Surprising thing was the number of Estuary Cod in the pots, including two that went 60cms. Also a few small sharks and Sandcrabs. At night a couple of rods were set on the beach that saw Grunter, Trevally and Sharks take the bait. All bait was garnered through the cast net activities either off the beach or at creek mouths. Gar was the main catch along with small Barra, Queenies, Whiting, Salmon, Bream, Barracuda and of course Mullet of all sizes.



    I’ll just say right now… midgies…. Wow. Dawn and dusk saw these pesky pests in droves and it wasn’t until day 3 that we learned how to avoid the sting, but they were always there with some finding their way into tents for a rather uncomfortable nights sleep, or lack thereof.



    Upon return from the wide trip, the big boat ( 8 mtrs ) had a couple of eskies full of Nannigai, Trout, Long Nose, Grassies and more. They did have shark trouble, but pulling these fish from 20 meters was rewarding and fun, especially using Vibes and SP’s, with Cookie using light gear.



    Brad, Brendan and myself were in the red boat ( 4.65mtr ) and found ourselves boating XOS Queenies, Spanish Macks, Golden Trevally while trolling some islands to the NW. While on the anchor sharks loved our baits, but we did pull some Grassies, Trout, Cod, Spanish Flag, Moses Perch and Trevors passed them for a good looking esky.



    One nights dinner consisted of, entrée of fresh cooked Mud Crab, fresh shucked Black Lipped Oysters, followed up with Reef Fish 3 ways and chips. I even cooked a heavy Carrot cake for dessert in the camp oven. Sitting by the fire, sipping cold beers, eating the oceans finest overlooking the wide expanses of Bathurst Bay and sunset over water, does not get any better.



    It took a couple of days to get the two boats anchoring system working a treat with wind conditions not favourable and tide movements not consistent as well as taking precautions not to enter the water due to apparent prevalence of Crocodiles, although we never saw any, there was evidence of them in respect of our crushed crab pots from the nearby creeks.



    From our camp it was an 11 kilometre boat run to the headland which is spectacular in the form of black boulders, towering into the sky. From there a short 1.5 k run to Boulder Rocks group where we hid from the big South East winds. There was no swell as such, just wind chop, but in the small boat made it uncomfortable, but safe. A further 5 k’s N/E was Pipen Islets which provided a shelter from the winds and a great place to walk the beaches for land-based fishing and exploring. Schools of Trevally swimming passed us, big bust ups just out of casting range, sting rays, turtles, barracuda and wildlife abounds along with the crystal clear waters and unspoiled beaches. Getting into the beach was tricky, but we found the land marks ( sticks ) and lined them up for a safe entry through the fringing reef system. That system provided great top water lure fun with Trout , Trevally and Strippies making their presence felt.



    The big boat with Curtis, Mollie, Cookie, Michael and Daryl on board were again 30 kilometers from camp in 20 meters of choppy water and the run pushing hard, but with persistence and patience were rewarded again with a good haul of reefies, including the elusive Red Emperor, ticking off a bucket list fish for Michael. Of course there were the Bludger Trevally kept for crab pot bait. We were also happy to catch Mangrove Jack and Barra in the creek systems to the west, land-based.



    A rest day ensued which saw us all jump in a couple of vehicles and hook up the trailer to go fresh water collecting from a small creek system about 3 kilometers from camp. This creek also gave us an opportunity for a well deserved bath in the cool…. No….. cold, water. We filled the two 205ltr big plastic drums and headed back to decant water to the van and other containers. We had 3 shower set ups with the Team Outback Armour, a cold water only one, but with the big drums sitting in the sun and 35 degree temps all day, a very warm shower at night was good. The other gang, Team Opposite Lock, had the heated shower in the van and the solar bag heated one outside.



    Daryl did a lot of evening cooking with 3 nights being “ roast beef & lamb “ slow cooked over the coals and spit. Curtis took a Sat Phone to get weather updates and stay in contact. This is essential up there. Not essential was our Satelite TV which allowed us to watch the AFL and NRL grand finals, as well as the Bathurst 1000. On that note, how did the Broncos lose the GF ???? The funny thing is watching the local / regional ads with the repetitive one being for a pressure washer called the Krapof.



    The camps and beaches were reasonably clean upon arrival with just a sprinkling of debris. The creeks were soo fishy, but we didn’t chance a night time fish. There were a few groups camped along the 10 kilometre stretch of NP beaches with an estimated 25 people in total while we were there, but none within sight of our camp. They were at Granite camp, Oystercatcher camp and Wongai camp as DES limits numbers to this remote area and advanced bookings are essential.



    The end to our adventure came too soon and our teams split at Atherton on the Tablelands for the return trip with Team Outback Armour heading out west to Forsayth via Mount Surprize and home via Charters Towers and the inland route, while Opposite Lock returned via the coastal route. To undertake a trip like this with big or small boats is a mission and needs lots of planning. The fishing is good and can be spectacular at times, crabbing is off the charts, the scenery is awesome and the night skies incredible. With over-night temps about 25 degrees and daytimes at 35’s, keeping well hydrated is critical. The wind is constant up there and comes in bursts at times. The bindi’s at camp were annoying, but a good pair of pluggers kept them from causing issues and the midgies can be managed, if well prepared.

    Sunsets, what can I say !


    cheers LP



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  2. #2

    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    a few more random shots
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  3. #3

    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    Great Report ,I see you are all wearing shorts , I’m very interested in how you managed the sand flies.
    Keep Ya Tip UP
    Beast

  4. #4

    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    Quote Originally Posted by BeastMaster View Post
    Great Report ,I see you are all wearing shorts , I’m very interested in how you managed the sand flies.
    Well, after a couple of days we realised they come out 1 hour before sunrise and 2 hours before sunset. They hang around for about 2 hours.

    I used my home brew insect repellent to dissuade them , others used Bushmans... both worked OK

    But yes, late arvo I slipped into long pants and long sleeves to avoid an overload of repellent on the skin. Photo here.. oh I actually wore lycra running things.

    I also put a mozzie coil in my RTT on a light bbq plate.

    LP
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  5. #5
    Ausfish Platinum Member


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    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    Fantastic report LP, I miss running around up that way. Have to plan another trip one day.
    Getting to the fresh water creek every couple of days for a swim used to be the highlight, and ya right, I'll never forget the relentless wind, and gusts that would send a swag rolling.
    Cheers
    Corry

  6. #6
    Ausfish Platinum Member


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    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    What a lovely part of the north ha Phil did you see many ships traveling between Pippon Island and the mainland it blew me away that thats the shipping channel.

  7. #7

    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    Quote Originally Posted by chris69 View Post
    What a lovely part of the north ha Phil did you see many ships traveling between Pippon Island and the mainland it blew me away that thats the shipping channel.
    yes, as a matter of fact... plenty of cargo ships passing by.

    It's not that wide really.....

    LP
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  8. #8
    Ausfish Addict disorderly's Avatar


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    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    Thanks for the report....What a cracker of a trip Phil..!..you certainly got amongst the fish..

    and what a luxury to have Curtis's big blue supervee to get out wider in the chop....

    Mate dont you guys have Midgies down in SE QLD..?...

  9. #9
    Ausfish Platinum Member Funchy's Avatar


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    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    Great write up mate

    loved our trip up there. Exceptional place except for when the wind gets up 🤣

  10. #10
    Ausfish Gold Member Out-Station's Avatar


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    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    What a great trip Phil, great read. Did you pick your time basis best chance of "not as much wind" or was it a case of go when you can go? Sounds like you all got home safe with all gear intact, always a good way to finish on those trips i recon.
    Scott

  11. #11
    Ausfish Addict GBC's Avatar


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    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    All those bags of rapid set under the Pipon Island lighthouse - great fun for a week, not.
    nil carborundum illegitimi

  12. #12

    Re: Cape Melville fishing & camping & 4 x 4'ing

    Quote Originally Posted by Out-Station View Post
    What a great trip Phil, great read. Did you pick your time basis best chance of "not as much wind" or was it a case of go when you can go? Sounds like you all got home safe with all gear intact, always a good way to finish on those trips i recon.
    Scott
    It was more of a matter of getting there before the fish closures..... CRFF and Spanish. Also wind was a factor, but you can't guarantee the weather. It was also at the end of school holidays, so taking all that into account..... yep, moon phases etc..

    We learned a few things, broke bugger all. Lost some lures, found some lures

    Sunburn, bindi's, midgies all forgotten about when the fish are hitting the deck.

    I am unsure if there is any " perfect " time to go there...... and if there was, it'd be booked out well in advance.

    Given that Bathurst Head is now closed to people, this pushes more up to Cape Melville, putting pressure on that area.

    LP
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