This Queensland Life
Fishing for barramundi as the sun sets over Aurukun, Cape York
As the sun sets over remote Aurukun on the north-western coastline of Cape York, some of the town’s 1200 residents are out picking up some takeaway. It’s not quite popping along to the shop, but at the end of the airstrip overlooking Archer Bay, the waters of the Watson River are so rich with fish that catching something seems to be almost a certainty.
A campfire burns low on the bank while men and women with handlines and casting nets seek their dinner, with kids and dogs racing in the background. All of those fishing are employing crocodile avoidance techniques – standing three metres above the waterline and twirling their lines lasso-style before flinging them in the river, or by dropping their nets in and gingerly nipping away as quickly as possible. A couple of decent-sized barramundi are soon landed.
The settlement, 178km south of Weipa and 811km from Cairns, is at the junction of several rivers that flow into the Gulf of Carpentaria, and the district includes traditional country of the Wik, Wik Way and Kugu people. The remoteness of the community and the resulting bounty of fish mean the surrounding wetlands, estuaries and ocean are almost as popular with fishing charters as they are with the locals.