As the title implies, we headed out to Daly River in the hope of landing a barramundi or two, given the region’s fame for big barra.
Now, Daly River is not a big place. There’s a pub, a police station, a petrol station, and a general store (which wasn’t even open when we called by in the middle of a weekday).
The wider region has a smattering of farms (some of which offer accommodation and camping sites, coupled with barramundi fishing charters), an Aboriginal community and a small primary school.
We stayed at a charming farm, nestled amongst a mature mango orchard. The huge mango trees provided a very welcome shady retreat from the Northern Territory heat.
We visited the Merrepen Arts Gallery at the local Nauiyu Aboriginal community, where the gallery manager was also keen to show us the workshop downstairs. The workshop is open to local community members to come in and learn a variety of fabric screenprinting and other creative techniques, who can then display and sell their wares in the gallery. We met a number of women who had come in from the remote Wadeye community to learn new techniques to enhance their own artistic skills. What a great initiative.
And then there’s the river. The Daly River is famous for big barra … and big crocs!
Sadly, we were unsuccessful in tracking down a fishing charter in the three days we were here, thanks to a combination of unsociable hours for best tides, unusually low water levels in the river, mechanical breakdowns, and the few remaining tours booked out. Plus, the word on the street is that this is already a poor season for fishing, thanks to a very dry wet season in this part of the territory, with very few catches occurring. One month into the dry season, and the locals are already waiting for the next wet!
Still keen to chase the barra, we braved the potential risk by fishing from the river bank – regularly checking for crocs. The hours spent flicking lures around rocks and other structures in the river were not successful, so we’ll need to return here another time.
The Wooliana boat ramp is the only public ramp in the area, unless you want to launch from a sandy area upstream of the causeway near the Inn. The ramp is long and steep, with a mixture of concrete and pavers to provide traction. As the river is quite low at the moment, the final three or four metres to the water is a challenge over a steep dropoff (note the boat in the photo above was just passing, and not launched from this ramp).
No barra and no croc sightings (although, we did see some very large croc tracks on the sandy river banks!). But we were astonished to see a small bull shark cruising the river, just two feet from the water’s edge in very shallow water (just behind John, in the feature pic at the top of this post) – approximately 100 kms inland from the river mouth!
As mentioned earlier, the shore near the Daly River causeway consists mainly of loose river sand waiting to trap the unwary driver. We came across a Camry bogged to the chassis, and pulled it out backwards with the cruiser. The hapless driver had pulled over to take photos of the sunset – and even as John went off in search of a tow rope to pull out the bogged car, the driver asked Jen to take pics of him fronting the river and sunset!
No barra this time, but plenty of excitement in Daly River!