Homeward Bound - 13th April 1999
The road trip to McArthur River Mine Airport was pretty uneventful, as it was slowly starting to sink in we were actually heading back home. Prior to this fishing trip, our level of expectations had been pretty high, of catching a vast variety of fish, including the elusive Barramundi. I even named this story "Barramundi Bigtime", with expectations of catching a Barra.
It can't be said that we didn't fish hard for the Barra, or didn't fish hard, period. On average, we fished 10 hours per day for six and a half days, that's 65 hours worth of fishing. With all the fish that we fought, caught or released, I can quite easily say that I am not disappointed that neither of us caught a Barra. When you compare the aerial acrobatics of a Queenfish, the pull of a Spanish Mackerel, the fight of a Dog Mackerel or Barracuda, the savoury taste of a Coral Trout, it surely compensates for the absence of a Barra.
The weather up North after the wet season is totally unique, with 33-37°C temperatures during the day, and 22-26°C during the night. Mosquitoes are fairly prolific during the warm, still nights, and insect repellant is a must. You do acclimatise yourself to the weather after about 2 days, and sunscreens and hats are the order during the day.
We said our fairwells to Mark, promising to keep in touch, with the commitment of someday returning to North Island. As with all plane flights, the best part of any flight is the take-off, where man and machine compatibly joins to display and feel the awesome thrust and power of a take off ! Must be the man in me coming out !!
We were slowly counting the hours for our approach towards Adelaide, and as we were descending from our cruising altitude of 36,000ft , we could easily identify landmarks such as Lake Eyre and Lake Torrens, Whyalla, Pt. Lincoln and of all things, a Collins Class submarine out on its test patrol in the Spencer Gulf.
We arrived in Adelaide around 4.00pm, and I must say that it was great to see my wife and son, none worse for wear during my absence. Infact, David's first words to me were "Dad, did you bring any fish home ?". Notice how he didn't say "Did I catch any fish", as he knew I would !!
So there you have it, our first trip to the Northern Territory. A monster of a story to write about, but nevertheless, a story that had to be told.
I recently spoke to Mark over the phone, and he stated that they are catching Spanish Mackerel in the 25kg range, Red Emperor in the 8kg range, and the tuna are definitely in. Since the trip, I have been able to convince my wife, Kerry, to let me go again next year to North Island, a pilgrimage I intend to hopefully make with Coho and Chinook.
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