Have Rod Will Travel: four magical words that, for me anyway, mean freedom. Modern technology, mercifully, allows those of us who earn a living by hacking at computers to take our work away with us.
So now, my office is a caravan beside a river, a lake or a beach. It’s the best residential option on the planet: no rates, no house repairs, no mains gas or electricity bills, and a million-dollar view every day. If you don’t like your neighbours, hook up the van and leave.
Now, who would’ve thought this was possible 20 years ago? My office is a six- month-old Jayco Outback caravan that I tow with a 16-year-old Toyota Landcruiser. Mine is the carefree life of mobile writer assisted by technology to combine travel and work – on good days I fish, on lousy days I work. If the fish aren’t biting, even if it’s a good day, I move on. Who said life wasn’t meant to be easy?
The baby boomer’s dream of home ownership is over for me. Been there, done that. Now, many who toiled and struggled
through drudgery to pay off a mortgage have put their houses on the market to finance their next Great Australian Dream: the road trip.
So, I have all the time in the world. The biggest task is setting up; not on site, but before you go.
Fishing tackle has to be sorted and packed. If it’s a He-and-She trip you can guarantee there will be no room in the van for tackle. Feel lucky if there is space for you. But this one is a “me” trip.
The best place for tackle, in fact, is the vehicle – rod tubes and a carry pod on the roof rack, and some special places for reels. I travel alone, yet still find the car ideal for tackle. I don’t think of it as a car so much as an overlarge tackle box. It makes a solid case for a bigger vehicle, however, as bigger cars have more room and that means more tackle. And as every fisherman knows, too much tackle is never enough.
People towing caravans who want to take a boat along need to have it on the vehicle roof. There are options: inflatables or boats that fold up, for example. In a motorhome it is easy to tow a boat. But launching it by reversing one of those bad b
oys down a slipway can be a problem. In far northern Australia, where crocodiles are part of everyday life in the estuaries, size
is important. Forget the inflatable or the flimsy fold-up boat. Not even a 3.5-metre- long tinny is big enough; the crocs at places such as the Mary River System, south of Darwin, use boats like that for a saurian version of volleyball. In fact, they see them as floating lunch boxes.
Boat size or construction is not as restrictive down south. The only restrictions are weather. Small boats can be used on most inland waters, and in coastal bays.
It all comes down to common sense.
* Steve Cooper is a prolific, award-winning travel and fishing journalist and author. His books include Australian Fishing Guide, 1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia, Snapper Secrets, Sportfishing Techniques and the Australian Fishing Manual.
Casting a line
So, you have the car loaded with tackle, a small boat, a caravan and you want somewhere to go. Here are three of my favourites:
Wallagaraugh River Retreat
The Wallagaraugh River is in southern NSW, and flows into Mallacoota Inlet. The park is situated just north of Genoa, off the Princes Highway. It offers caravan, camping and cabin accommodation, boat ramp and jetty.
For anglers who regularly fish Mallacoota, the Wallagaraugh is well-known as it flows into the Genoa River upstream of Gypsy Point. The Wallagaraugh produces dusky flathead, estuary perch, bream and, in the upper reaches, the much sought-after Australian Bass.
There are few fishing locations that have established themselves as elite in terms of big fish. Fitzgerald Bay, about 30km north of Whyalla in Spencer Gulf, South Australia, is one such place, having produced snapper to 18kg. There is a small bay with a large boat ramp, and this is protected by a breakwall where snapper and kingfish can be caught. The Point Lowly lighthouse marks the entry to the bay, which is pockmarked by fish pens holding yellowtail kingfish.
From the Lowly lighthouse to the end of the Santos refinery pier further south is the northern boundary of the Cuttlefish Marine Park. North of this line you are allowed to catch cuttlefish. There is an unpowered camp ground opposite the harbour.
Hervey Bay is the name of the township and also the bay separating Fraser Island and Queensland. Hervey Bay (the town)
is situated at the southern end of Hervey Bay (the water), at the entrance to Great Sandy Strait. The fishing is diverse, both in terms of methods and species. A favourite destination is Urangan Pier, which fishes well for whiting, mackerel, tuna, queenfish, mackerel, trevally and tuna. Land-based anglers can also catch whiting, along with bream, from Shelly Beach and the Urangan Steps, west of the Urangan Pier, and the Great Sandy Strait Marina walls.
Boating anglers catch tuna, mackerel, giant trevally, queenfish, threadfin salmon, sailfish and marlin. Inshore reefs offer
up a fair selection of edible species, including coral trout and emperor, while the estuaries have mangrove jack and barramundia.