A trip to Brown's Beach always conjures up images of the ultimate beach fishing experience, where your skills are tested in landing the Aussie Salmon. This trip, in late May 2001, with a close mate of mine, Bob Geary, was no exception, as we had both planned for it for some time, and high expectations of a catch were on the agenda.
The drive to Browns always offers a chance for two mates to catch up with personal events, a chance to bitch about life, about work, about your neighbour's dog crapping on your front lawn leaving humungus, wet, steaming nuggets - you get the drift - your standard male testosterone level talk.
However, the drive through Yorke's, and especially Innes National Park, also offers an insight into the wild life and surrounding scenery. It doesn't matter how often you see a Roo, but two thoughts always go through my mind when I do come across one. One, where's the camera, and Two, wonder how he would taste on a hot plate ! Well as you can see, I have fulfilled the first of those thoughts. The second, to date, has always been fulfilled from within a restaurant.
The drive to Browns from Stenhouse Bay is somewhat tamer now, as the road to Pondalowie Bay has now been bitumized, and the dirt road from Pondy to Browns is frequently graded. To give credit where credit is due, a LOT of work has been done by the SA National Parks & Wildlife to the area, in the form of upgraded roads, nature-walk paths, designated camp sites, and towards the protection of native flora and fauna.
Setting up camp is always an enjoyable experience, doubly so this time, as we were about to erect our tailor made, pre-fabricated annex to Bob's van. Both Bob and I had spent several weekends together welding the frame work, drilling and pre-testing various sleeves and extensions, with the end result being a substantially over-engineered and robust annex. We had numerous trial runs of setting up the annex prior to the trip, and as you can see, it provided us with an ideal cover for weathering any storms.
One trick we used when using the tarpaulins was to employ octopus straps to tension the tarpaulin against the framework, by attaching the straps from the eyes of the tarpaulin to pre-drilled holes in the framework. This allowed some give of our cladding, during heavy winds.
The photo on the left shows just one of those awkward shots I couldn't resist putting in. Bob infact is not demented, but simply doesn't seem to know what to do with his steak ! Bob and I have known each other for about 10 years now, we always have a good bitch about politics, local government and bureaucrats, and believe it or not, are both passionate about fishing.
It was determined that end of May was the best time to fish Browns, as it was a new moon and the tides were to be relatively high, but the forecast was for some heavy storm fronts to pass through onto Adelaide. As you can see, the trip started off sunny, great imbibing and fishing weather, and setting up camp was a relative breeze.
The fishing was furious and hard. We furiously and repeatedly change our bait, and had an extremely hard time hooking even one Aussie Salmon ! The mullet were definitely in, as a rig of cockles produced some good bites, but we were after Salmon, not Mullet. As O'Brien's Law set upon us (O'Brien's Law states that Murphy was an optimist ! Murphy's Law states that if something can go wrong, it usually will !), the weather changed dramatically, and the predicted storm front was upon us with a vengeance.
The phrase "the heavens opened up" is very apt as can be seen in these shots. The Mullet even seemed to have more sense than we did, as they went completely off the bite as the fronts hit the area. This storm activity lasted for the next 15 hours, and put a huge dampener on our efforts towards fishing.
There were however periods of sunshine and calm, albeit brief, and yet the fish were still one up on us. Our fishing efforts continued into the night, with no luck, and the only course of action left open was to head back to base camp, cook tea, relax, and contemplate life with a JD and cigar. The camp site itself had weathered the storms with ease, and it was reassuring to see that all our preparatory efforts in designing the annex for this trip had paid off.
Cooking a barbie is definitely in itself, a favoured Aussie pastime. This particular barbie was commissioned by Bob and built by both Bob and I. You may however ask yourself "why is the barbie painted lilac ?" The answer is, we wanted .... sorry .... I mean Bob wanted to paint it with the most sickly colour he could think of ! Irrespective of the colour, the barbie performed as intended, and produced a meal fit for a king. Given the fact that we had fished hard through trying weather, a hearty meal was definitely in order.
Frying slices of Roo fillets was definitely the ultimate finger food for entree. Toasting 2" thick bread with the classic Toad in the Hole, with Spuds and Steak, seasoned with chilli, garlic, pepper and parsley, with a splash of JD to wash it down is the quintessence of a gourmet meal.
With the onset of winter, camp fires are allowable if not prevalent in national park camping grounds. We had anticipated the need for a camp fire, and had brought with us some wood. During periods of good weather, we also reconnoitered the camping area and came across a dozen huge mallee stumps left behind by previous campers, definitely an added bonus to our stockpile of blue gum.
So there you have it, two guys after several days of hard fishing, with no results, enjoying a meal, sitting by a camp fire, drinking JD, smoking cigars, talking about the ethics of life - what more does a man want ............. a goddamn Aussie Salmon.
And we would do it all over again !!
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