Tourist Attraction: There’s something enticing about Karumba
A sign on the main road that just about sums it up: “Welcome to Karumba – population small”. But there is something enticing about the place, especially if you’re an angler. It’s exotic but laid-back, a welcome retreat with a frontier style atmosphere. They say that one deep breath of the air here and Karumba gets into your blood. That probably explains why some people come back year after year.
Industry in Karumba
Karumba, popularly known as the Outback by the Sea, is the only port on the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was first established as a telegraph station in the 1870’s and is home to an amazing array of wildlife, not the least of which is the saltwater crocodiles that are so abundant in the Top End. In the 1960’s and 1970’s the town became the centre for the Gulf fishing industry and today that industry, most notably prawn (shrimp) and barramundi fishing, earns over AUD$130 million a year. The fishing industry is all-pervading, even the police station has a boat outside it!
There is native wildlife in Karumba
After that we wandered over to the boat ramp at Karumba Point where we had a truly magnificent view out over the Gulf. The water seemed to stretch endlessly and disappeared over the horizon. We walked along the path through the Wetlands but other than a few rodents and one or two birds it was deserted of animal life.
The Gulf area is home to numerous and diverse species of birds including migratory species – parrots, finches, honeyeater, herons, birds of prey, brolgas and much much more. Karumba being located on the coastline with savannah grassland, meandering wetlands stretching up to 30km inland, savannah scrub and coastal mangrove environments is a virtual birdwatchers paradise.
Fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria
You can’t come to Karumba and not go fishing; it simply isn’t done. Even for a somewhat unenthusiastic angler like myself. And so the next morning we set off on a fishing excursion on the Gulf of Carpentaria aboard the Kerry D Fishing Charters booking was done through Karumba Point Sunset Caravan Park where had stayed and enjoyed magnificent Park Facilities .
- Cabins, Villas, Campsites (Powered/UN-powered sites).
- Next to the beach & boat ramp. Shady, well grassed sites.
- Free BBQ area. Fish Cleaning Area.
- Swimming Pool with Entertainment area.
- Spit Roast Nights & Entertainment.
- Happy Hours, Disabled Shower/Toilet.
- 2 Spotless Shower/Toilet Blocks, Coin Operated Laundry.
- Mini-Mart / Cafe / Tackle / Souvenirs, Craft days, 3 Public Telephones.
- Fishing Charters / Flights and other Local Tour Bookings, Campers Kitchen.
It was very early when we boarded, the sun was barely up. Apparently, so they tell me, this is the best time to catch fish. I wondered about that because my friend has been telling me for years that any time is the best time. A quick jaunt up the Norman River to set a few crab pots for the skipper and then we were on our way out into the Gulf. Our skipper has been operating a fishing charter service at Karumba for long years so it stands to reason that he would know all the best spots to drop anchor. He did tell us, though, that we are just in time to catch barramundi. He also told us that Barramundi don’t like the cooler water very much and now that the water temperature was warm so there are lots of chances to get big Barramundi nevertheless there are many other fish that we could catch as well such as
- Salmon (Blue & King)
- Javelin (Grunter)
- Fingermark (Golden Snapper)
- Spanish Mackerel
- Black JewFish
Let the fish catching begin!
There were other folks on board the boat with us and as soon as we stopped lines were cast and everyone settled down for a good days fishing. Well, the fishing was as good as we expected or were led to believe even it was better than any other part of Australia. My friend caught the first fish, a nice big blue-nosed salmon, and over the course of the next hour, there was a constant stream of fish being hauled in. Not bad for a morning’s fishing.
Gulf prawns for lunch. Yum.
We were back by about lunch time and went looking for somewhere to have a bite to eat. During World War II the RAAF constructed a boat ramp near the town centre. Some of the emergency crash pads and some metal rings that were used to secure the aircraft can still be seen at low tide. It was here at the boat ramp that we discovered Raptis & Sons. This, according to the locals, is the best place to buy freshly cooked Gulf prawns. Well the locals weren’t wrong. We’d had a great time on the Gulf and finished the morning sitting on the boat ramp happily munching on the best tasting and freshest prawns we’d ever eaten. Could the day get any better? Yes, it could.
The most beautiful sunsets in the world are at Karumba
Karumba is reputed to have the most beautiful sunsets in the world and we’d been told that we shouldn’t miss it. And so later that evening we sat on the beach, watching as the clouds cleared just enough. The sky turned pink and orange as the sun’s rays reflected off the water and we sat there until that great
glowing ball had dropped below the horizon and darkness engulfed us. It was almost magical.
A visit to a fish hatchery
The overcast skies were still with us and the wind was ripping through during the night but seemed to ease off about late morning. We wandered down into the town to have a look at the Barramundi Discovery Centre, the only hatchery in the world that breeds the Gulf strain of barramundi.
Cruising the Gulf at sunset
This evening we set off on the Croc n Crab Sunset Cruise. Well, we got chance to see lots of croc, the large numbers of crabs. However we still had a fantastic time. The food, such as it was, was terrific, the wine and beer flowed freely, our fellow passengers were a great bunch of people, and Mark and Julieanne, the owners/hosts were great. The food was not bad; we had a fish dish that had way too much vinegar for my liking but the others seemed to enjoy it, Gulf prawns of which there simply weren’t enough, and a tropical fruit platter. The clouds cleared slightly so that we were able to get some photos of the sunset but mostly the overcast seemed to be determined to stay. That was amazing time and nothing was disappointing thing about the whole cruise which lasted 2 hours. It was dark when we got back and with little else to do we made our way back to Karumba Point Sunset Caravan Park. We’d had a fantastic time and left the boat with some souvenir wine glasses and a promise to return some day.
Normanton for barramundi
Normanton is proudly known as the “Barramundi Capital of the North” because the waters of the Norman River are so plentiful with fish and a huge statue of the fish in question can be found on the road out of town. We stopped long enough for fuel and a few photographs before we were back on the road and heading south. The road was littered with the carcases of dead kangaroos and wild pigs, victims of the night and fast moving vehicles, and we saw a lot of snakes, both dead and alive. We had heard at Karumba that this was the time when the snakes are on the move and judging by the number we saw, I’d have to agree. We stopped just north of Burke and Wills Roadhouse in a roadside rest area for lunch, taking our time over the break. There was some traffic heading north and we were pleased that we’d decided to make the trip early in the “season”; I had a feeling that the accommodation and campsites would be filling up fast now. As the tourist brochures proclaim, Karumba is a recreational fishing mecca. The Gulf of Carpentaria with its azure blue waters is at its most magnificent at sunset. And that’s only two of the many reasons to make the long trek to this stunning piece of paradise.
BOOK NOW! for March, April, May and June. You may also do advanced booking for July, August, September, and August.
Postal Address: Karumba Point Sunset Caravan Park, PO Box 61 Karumba Queensland 4891
Tel: (07) 4745 9277
Fax (07) 4745 9480
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