Hook, Line & Sinker - Scaling Cape York
WRITTEN BY: ANDREW HART
At a high-level planning meeting—held in the glittering penthouse offices of HLS Productions—we decided that we wouldn’t really do any planning. Instead, we’d hitch up the boat, jump into the D-MAX and do a road trip. But not just any road trip: the road trip.
The big one.
The trip would consist of towing our very large 3-tonne trailer boat, a Bar Crusher 780 HT, all around Australia. Broken into two-week stints—jetting home for a spoonful of family time in between—we would drive, stop, fish, film and continue. We’ve travelled from Melbourne to Cape York, producing 13 episodes. And the highlight, for me, was the time we spent at Cape York, the northernmost tip of the Australian continent. It was also the perfect shakedown for new D-MAX.
Hauling our 7.8m boat to the Torres Strait represented something of a challenge. The first option was to make the tow up from Cairns along what is renowned as a very rough red-dirt road—something we weren’t keen on because of the size of the Bar Crusher.
The second option was to drive the boat ourselves. But the distance involved is massive. From Cairns to ‘the Tip’ is around 1,000 kilometres. Way too far in a trailer boat with the time constraints we were facing. We thought perhaps we’d just have to do the Cape without our boat—madness— but then we stumbled onto the idea of shipping our boat up by barge. So we dropped off a brand new D-MAX (we picked up an LS-T Crew Cab 4x4 model while in town) and our Bar Crusher at the wharf in Cairns. Just a few days later, the whole lot was covered in red dust while it sat and waited for us at the Sea Swift Shipping depot in Seisia.
Indignity for our Bar Crusher, maybe, but an easy hack for anyone else who finds themselves similarly time-poor. All of this meant that we arrived ready for action but light-on for local knowledge. Luckily, it didn’t really seem to matter. This part of the world is perfectly suited to trailer boat fishing. The ramp at Seisia seems good on most tides, and we spent the first couple of days doing day trips exploring the area. There was plenty to catch, with tuna schools busting up as far as the eye could see. The first fish to hit the deck was a massive queenfish, well over 1.2m long and the perfect way to start our tropical fishing adventure.
"LOCALS TOLD US OF A SPOT WHERE YOU COULD DROP YOUR SWAG AND NOT BE EATEN BY A CROC IN THE NIGHT. THEY SEEMED TRUSTWORTHY …"
Once we got our confidence up with the local area, we decided to head down the western side of the Cape and camp a couple of nights. The locals told us of a little site on the inside of the Doughboy River mouth, where they said you could drop your swag and not be eaten by a crocodile in the middle of the night. They seemed trustworthy, so that’s what we did.
The 60 nautical mile journey to the Doughboy was fairly smooth. The beauty of the Cape is you can choose to fish the sheltered side, so although we had wind most days, it was always blowing offshore, which made life easy. Even better, the further south we travelled from Seisia, the better the fishing got. We didn’t try too hard and we caught all the species you would expect from this part of the world. The tuna schools where so thick we had to drive around them; we had to stop trolling our swimming lures because big Spanish Mackeral would keep hooking up and we simply didn’t have the esky space. Paradise. Inside the river mouth we caught as many queenfish as we wanted. Barra, jacks and a bunch of other species kept us entertained further up the mangrove-lined waterway. It was a fisherman’s nirvana.
After filming enough for a couple of episodes of the program, we headed back to Seisia where we once again dropped off the boat … but being unable to bear parting with the D-MAX, we decided to drive our new steed back to Cairns.
The 1,000km journey along the Development Road took us a day. In parts, this road is terrible. The corrugations are huge, but the D-MAX rolled into Cairns with no issues. All in all, a great way to finish the first series of our Lap of Australia. Now bring on the NT and WA!
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