This Queens­land Life

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - UPFRONT - PHOTOGRAPHY DAVID KELL Y STORY ALIS ON WALS H

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.

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