The best fishing spots along the South Coast

The best south coast fishing spots

BEN CADDAYE looks at some of the best places to wet a line on the south coast this summer.

A lot of Canberrans will throw the rods, reels and tackle box into the car this summer. Some will genuinely fancy their chances of a regular fresh fish barbecue; others will be happy to simply dangle a line.

Regardless of which category you fall into, here is a guide to fishing some of the more popular south coast destinations.

Hopefully, this advice will help you land a few fish for the table and have some summer fun with family and friends.

Jervis Bay-St Georges Basin

Road upgrades between Canberra and Nowra mean the beautiful Jervis Bay region is a little more than two hours away from the nation’s capital. This area is a angler’s paradise: beach, rock and estuary fishing are within easy reach.

Because of its geography – the bay on one side of the peninsula and the basin on the other – anglers are spoilt for choice in any weather. St Georges Basin is the most popular fishery in the region and is a great place for holidaymakers to chase a feed. Flathead, bream, whiting, tailor, snapper and blackfish abound throughout the system.

Access to a boat is definitely an advantage when fishing this vast, open estuary. Concentrate on the ”edges”, where the water drops from less than a metre to about four metres. That is where you will find flathead, bream and whiting on lures and bait. The deeper water produces trophy tailor and pan-size snapper.

Shore-based fishos should head for one of the many jetties at places such as Erowal Bay, Sussex Inlet, Basin View and on the other side of the peninsula at Huskisson.

Lake Conjola

An estuary that boasts a town on its shores named Fisherman’s Paradise has to be a handy fishing spot, and Lake Conjola does not disappoint.

A few clicks north of Milton, the lake is a noted haunt for big flathead, large tailor, fat whiting and solid bream. It is also very popular with water-skiers, so your best bet is to get on the estuary nice and early in the morning, or try some of the bays and inlets away from the main basin. Conjola is a mostly shallow lake, so most of the fishing action is in the area known as ”the Steps”. This is the deepest part of the system and home to a good number of flathead and tailor.

And do not ignore the shallow margins and weed edges, which are very productive areas to stalk whiting and bream. Infestations of caulerpa weed have been a problem in past seasons. Let us hope they are not this summer.

Durras Lake

A small, shallow estuary north of Batemans Bay, Durras Lake punches well above its weight in the fishing stakes. Flathead and whiting are summer staples.

Anglers working the shallows with fresh nippers and worms will catch plenty of these fish. The holes and drop-offs are ideal for exploring with soft plastic lures for large flathead. Just because Durras is small does not mean the flathead do not grow big, and every season a handful of fish about 90 centimetres is taken.

Because of its size, Durras lends itself well to kayaks, canoes and small boats – it is certainly not the place to launch your seven-metre cabin cruiser. Parts of the system are marine park sanctuary zones, so consult the Batemans Marine Park map to avoid a hefty fine.

Batemans Bay-Clyde River

Batemans Bay will be the most popular port of call for holidaying Canberrans this summer. The population of this usually sleepy town swells to overflowing from Boxing Day, but despite the influx of visitors, the area boasts some great fishing.

The majestic Clyde River is the focus for most anglers. This huge estuary begins in the hills as a tiny, crystal-clear, freshwater stream and winds its way about 100 kilometres and spills into the Tasman Sea.

The upper reaches are great bass country, but it is between the two highway bridges – at Nelligen and Batemans Bay – that has most of the action for holidaymakers. Flathead, bream and tailor are abundant and can be caught from a drifting boat on soft plastic lures and fresh and live bait.

Deep water and a strong tidal flow can make the Clyde difficult to fish for newcomers. Try your luck towards the shoreline, and focus on where the shallows give way to deeper water – that is where most of the fish feed.

The Clyde is also renowned for its monster mulloway. These are taken by experienced anglers fishing the deep holes and ”bait balls” using big, soft plastic lures and fish-flesh baits. If you do not have a boat, several jetties and breakwalls on the river provide shore-based anglers with good access to fishy water.

Moruya

It is often overlooked by holidaying anglers, but the Moruya River can compete as a fishery with some of the more glamorous waterways to the north and south. Unlike a lot of south coast estuaries, the Moruya River has lots of great shore-based options. Near the river mouth, breakwalls on the northern and southern sides provide a relatively safe and accessible place to chase tailor, salmon, bream and flathead. The wharf near the historic quarry has been upgraded and is a great fishing platform for bream, flathead and tailor. So is Preddys Wharf near Moruya Heads. Try a peeled prawn on a light rig – there is a good chance you will hook up.

Boat anglers can drift the flats in the lower reaches and expect to catch lots of flathead on soft plastic lures. Whiting abound throughout the river and can be caught on fresh nippers or worms. One of the best patches to fish is the stretch of river upstream of the highway bridge. The upper reaches produce estuary perch and bass.

Lake Tuross

Few places on the south coast have received as much hype in the fishing media as Lake Tuross. Since becoming a recreational fishing haven more than a decade ago, Lake Tuross has been the poster child for ”rec only” fisheries on the south coast.

Now netting is a distant memory, species such as flathead, bream, whiting and mulloway have thrived in the lake, and anglers have flocked from all corners of the country for a slice of the action.

Flathead are the main drawcard. Each year, Tuross produces a handful of huge fish over the magic metre mark. You do not have to go far for these fish, either. Many are caught within a stone’s throw of the popular waterfront cafes and eateries that swarm with tourists over the Christmas break.

Try casting and retrieving soft plastics around the drop-offs. Anglers employing this technique are also in with the chance of a prized mulloway. Big whiting are on offer towards the mouth of Tuross on fresh bait, vibe lures and surface poppers.

The oyster racks throughout the system are magnets for bream, and fishing small, soft plastic and minnow-style lures around the leases on a boat or kayak can often result in an action-packed session.

A number of well-known anglers from television and magazines fish Tuross regularly, and a day spent on the lake during the holidays can be a bit of a celebrity-spotting exercise.

Narooma-Wagonga Inlet

Narooma’s Wagonga Inlet has been described as the jewel in the south coast’s crown, and it is not hard to see why. Wagonga has been a rec-only fishery longer than any other estuary on the south coast, and it shows. Its reputation for monster flathead is legendary. These fish live around the drop-offs, where the sand flats give way to holes and channels up to 10 metres deep. Big, soft plastic lures on relatively heavy jig heads are often the go for the trophy flathead. Experienced anglers tend to follow the schools of bait and feeding tailor.

Mulloway are also on the cards in Wagonga and are often caught by anglers fishing for flatties. The front of the system, between the lake and the entrance, is a great spot for big whiting. Target these fish with fresh nippers. The oyster racks up the back of the inlet are a noted haunt for big bream.

Shore-based anglers can walk the Boardwalk, which boasts purpose-built fishing platforms. Expect to catch bream, flathead and leatherjacket in this area.

Note the sanctuary zones within the system.

Bermagui-Wallaga Lake

Adjacent to the famous fishing town of Bermagui, Wallaga Lake has long been a popular location for visiting Canberrans. Boat anglers can drift a live nipper or prawn in the middle of the lake for a feed of flathead or whiting. Soft plastic lures, naturally, are also worth a shot.

Wallaga is also a really productive estuary for tailor. You can troll a small metal lure from a boat or have a flick around from the shore near the road bridge, near the mouth of the system. The bridge area is also a great land-based location for bream, flathead and flounder.

Visiting anglers will have to share the lake with plenty of water-skiers over summer, but finding a quiet location to wet a line is simply a matter of veering a bit off the beaten track. The nearby Bermagui River is a small but relatively productive estuary that fishes well for the usual bread-and-butter species.

If you do not have access to a boat, try the training wall towards the mouth of the estuary for luderick, flathead, trevally and bream. The luderick are especially plentiful around here and can be caught on weed baits fished under a float.

Written by: Ben Caddaye
This article was first published by Fairfax on January 12 2014.

What motivated us to uproot our life and travel Australia!

What motivated us to uproot our life and travel Australia – Tom, Mikaela, Kane and Lucas

 

Tom and I are high school sweethearts, we began dating at sixteen and within a month of completing our Year 12 VCE studies, we found out that we were expecting TWINS.

 

Every other 18-year old that we knew was out partying and we were totally sleep deprived for other reasons. Tom began studying his teaching degree and I completed my Diploma of Nursing. During this stage, we both had two jobs because we wanted to provide our boys with everything they needed.

 

We got married, bought a house and went on our first family holiday where we stayed at the Big 4 Caravan Park in Bateman’s Bay. We were speaking with an older couple about their travels as they’d be caravanning around Australia for many years. Later that evening, we sat down and thought “Why can’t we do that?”

 

After starting our family at only 18, we were relying on the fact that we would live out our dream to travel when we were retired. But we began pondering the thought; What if one of us never got there? What if one of us took a turn for ill health? We have since heard too many sad stories of couples purchasing caravans and setting themselves up for the trip, only for one of them to end up too unwell.

 

There is no better moment than the present one so within a few days of returning from our holiday, our house was on the market and a few months later, the house was sold and we were shopping around for caravans. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision to leave our families, friends and everything we had ever known but we knew it would be worthwhile. We have gained so much more than we ever expected from this experience.

Everyone believes having kids young restricts you from travel. Little did we know how much Kane and Lucas would become our biggest motivators for chasing our dreams.

Our motto is… Travel while you’re young and healthy!

Dairy Free Apple Loaf

My sister jumped on the Dairy Free Train about two years ago. For awhile it certainly shook up coffee and cake mornings at her house while she experimented with different recipes and a new way of cooking.

After her trial and errors and mastering the new non-dairy art, she began sending recipes my way. Ever so inconspicuously of course so I could provide her with dairy free wares when she visited me! She’s clever that one…

This delicious dairy free apple loaf recipe has since become one of my favourites. It’s super easy to make, requires no mixer (which always makes me happy) and is a welcome change from Banana Bread, which I seem to fall back on a lot. It’s also really easy to bake with kids if you’re so inclined..

Dairy Free Apple Loaf

Ingredients

  • 1&1/2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of bi-carb soda
  • 1/4 brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 3 large granny smith apples, peeled and grated (I’m sure other apples will be just as good!)*
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  • Sift bi-carb soda, flour and cinnamon together. Stir through brown and caster sugars.
  • Make a well in the centre and add all remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly

Dairy Free Apple Loaf1

  • Pour into a loaf pan lined with baking paper

Dairy Free Apple Loaf2

  • Cook at 180 degrees celsius for 40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in pan for 5 minutes before turning onto rack.

Dairy Free Apple Loaf3

Enjoy!

Karina xx

Orange, Blayney and Carcoar

Whilst free camping at the excellent Carcoar Dam site, we had lots of opportunities to visit surrounding areas by car.

Sunrise at Carcoar Dam

Orange

We did a trip down memory lane when we spent a day in Orange as both Rob and I used to live here at different stages of our childhood. We found we knew some of the same people. For example, Rob’s sister was best friends with Mariska who became my best friend for the few years I spent at Canobolas High School. Some things have changed especially in the shopping heart of Summer Street, yet the iconic lookout at Mt Canobolas is still a rough old gravel road nearly all the way to the top. The road to the summit is about 5kms. The road is sealed at the bottom and also at the top, but there is a rough unsealed gravel section for most of the way. You’d think that the local council would have done this up by now.

Lousy gravel road to Mt Canobolas

From Mt. Canobolas we made our way to Lake Canobolas, a local boating recreation area. The grounds around the lake contain lovely picnic areas, BBQ settings and children’s playgrounds. The area also contains a number of large vineyards, many of which have open cellars and few with cafes or restaurants attached. My husband was ‘shocked’ to find that I used to go skinny dipping in the lake in my tear away teenage years. LOL

Lake Canobolas

 

Carcoar

Another day we went sightseeing around the historic town of Carcoar. I quaint town that time has left behind. Sadly not much was open during the weekday we visited but we are assured it has more to offer visitors on the weekends. Anyway, we drove around and loved seeing the old architecture such as the courthouse, the railway station and of course the beautiful old churches.

Carcoar Catholic Church

 

Carcoar Anglican Church

Blayney

This was our main shopping area for our stay, so we popped in a few times, whether it be to do some actual grocery shopping, buy some excellent fish and chips, visit the op shops or do the laundry etc. We also took our time getting a good look at the historic churches here. My favourite one being this tiny church in the main street but back a little and that I think many people would miss.

Blayney Presbyterian Church

Spring Hill

One place we didn’t stop by was Spring Hill. We were returning back from Orange via a different route and it was late in the day. It looks like it is definitely worth a visit all on its own.

Spring Hill Uniting Church

 

Glorious Autumn

Being autumn at the time of our visit, the trees were putting out their most colourful display in all the towns and countryside.

Autumn colours in Blayney

Free camping in Forbes

Wheogo Park, right in the heart of Forbes is a free 48 hour campsite. It is just off the Newell Highway making it a very convenient place to spend the night on your travels through the area. It is on the southern bank of the Lachlan River as it runs through Forbes and is only about 500m from the centre of town via a walkway across the river.

Part of the view from Wheogo Park

The campsite is a large relatively flat semi grassed area with trees providing some shade if you like with a few rarer sunny spots for the solar seekers. It is large enough for big rigs. There are no amenities here other than rubbish bins but there are toilets in Lions Park which is right next door about 600m from our van. There is also good mobile phone and television reception here for both Optus and Telstra.

Camped at Wheogo Park

Take a walk around the lake, it is flat and there’s a concrete path around most of it. There’s a sports field opposite the river and there are many bridges so the walk can be tailored to suite. As I mentioned earlier, the shopping centre is just on the other side of the river so it too is within easy walking distance with IGA being conveniently the closest!

Another beautiful morning dawns at Wheogo Park

It was here that we met up with Dawn and Spencer again and later Lorraine and Steve. Rob & Spencer walked to the McFeeter’s Motor Museum and enjoyed a couple of hours there whilst Dawn and I walked into town and did mostly window shopping whilst picking up some minor supplies & checking out the local op shop I bought 5 pairs of brand new still in the package, hot pink football socks for my sock doll making! Watch and see what I make with them.

Yindi on the left wearing a dress made from a hot pink football sock

Mc Feeter’s Motor Museum is in a purpose built shed used for displaying a vast collection of meticulously restored motor cars. The cars range from vintage to custom cars and many in between, including some real odd bods! The boys really enjoyed themselves.

McFeeter’s Motor Museum

 

McFeeter’s Motor Museum

 

Free camping at Bogan Weir

The reason we went off road and thus got bogged was that we missed the driveway into the Bogan Weir. It is just 7km from Peak Hill not the 15 we had been told. (Just 150m past the causeway).

This lovely spot is so quiet (other than the birds) that I think it must be a well kept secret. We had only 4 other campers there the entire time we were there and one of those was our good friends, Steve and Lorraine.

 

 

Peak Hill

Peak Hill is just a small town many people just past on through. There is a small supermarket, and a few little cafes. We enjoyed looking at the craft shop and the ‘antique’ shop which also houses many other bits and pieces including this fabulous hand beaded sheer dress at the bargain price of $400. It would be a dress that would looked fabulous on someone like Cher.

Mostly though we were at the weir just to have some time out to veg and spend some time crafting and chatting.

 

On the way out of Peak Hill we just had to stop by the open cut Gold Mine in Peak Hill.

Easy Chicken and Veggie Patties

I’ve grown quite fond of chicken mince! It is so versatile and so cheap. It gives you the ability to buy good quality free range, preservative, additive and hormone free meat and it doesn’t break the bank. So I’m trialling and perfecting a range of meals with chicken mince as the star. These easy chicken and veggie patties are the first to feature and were a hit!

I bulk them up with vegetables which makes a bigger meal with leftovers but also gets more veggies into our diets. They are ridiculously simple to make! Cooking style is versatile too – either pan fry, throw them in the oven so you don’t have to stand and cook, or even better, give them to somebody else to cook on the BBQ!

My children love to have these cold in their lunch boxes, which sure beats making sandwiches!

Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken mince
  • 180g grated haloumi
  • 1 egg
  • 2 grated zucchini
  • 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 – 2cm grated ginger
  • Salt & pepper
  • Any other veggies you have on hand. I often use carrots and peas too.

 

Method:

  1. Grate zucchini. Squeeze grated zucchini in hands to get rid of excess moisture before putting in large bowl.
  2. Grate haloumi and add to bowl.
  3. Slightly beat egg in a small bowl then add to mixture.
  4. Add remaining ingredients
  5. Mix well with hands
  6. Form patties (or meatballs if you prefer) and place on plate or baking tray.

Cooking methods:

  1. Pan fry on medium-low heat for approximately 4 – 5 minutes each side. Remove from pan on a plate lined with paper towel.
  2. Place on a baking tray in oven on 180 degrees celsius and cook for 15 minutes each side. 
  3. Heat BBQ to medium/medium low, spray with oil and cook for approx 4 mins each side.

Enjoy! x Karina

Easy Chicken and Vegie Patties

Beardy Creek Free Camp

Beardy Creek is approximately 8 kilomteres north of Glen Innes on the New England … It is a free camp with a forty eight hour maximum stay. (Camps Australia Wide 7 #148)

I am standing up on the track which the truckies would use.

There is plenty of room for large vans here, and it is a good spot for quick overnight on your way though to see one of the majestic national parks in the New England Region.

A beautiful rainbow embraces the motorhome

We enjoyed our friendly time in Maryvale but it was time to move on again. In keeping with our motto of taking it easy, we travelled just 200km after attending church first at Warrick. Our destination this time was at Heritage Park on Beardy Creek just north of Glen Inness.

Got to keep an eye on the rising creek levels

We generally average 80k/h but the hills slow us down significantly. Rob was very concerned about the brakes on the motorhome as they were shuddering something fierce when heavily applied. I was to drive within eyesight behind to reduce the stress on the brakes and to be within cooee if something terrible happened.

Hardly a soul in sight.

Nothing happened on the trip. The grounds are very wet and we chose not to camp at the ‘proper’ camp grounds as it was so boggy. instead we went just 50m further to what appears to be a very large truck stop. Rob reckons that not many trucks would stop there due to the approach from the road and they certainly can’t veer off the hard track. Once we had parked and settled, we enjoyed relaxing and looking out with the creek just metres away. We weren’t going to be doing much walking since there was a gently but constant drizzle of rain. We were watching the already high river to ensure that it wasn’t likely to go any higher.

Free Camping at Moura Apex River Park

The road here from Rolleston was probably the roughest Qld bitumen road we’ve encountered so far on any of our trips. We spent last night at the Dawson River Rest Area. It is a lovely spot on the banks of the river.

The rest stop is beside the highway but far enough away from the highway for its traffic not to be a problem. The town of Moura, Queensland is 7 kms away.

There’s heaps of room, nicely mown grass, hot showers, toilets and even free firewood delivered by a ranger. There is an honesty box for donations.

While maybe you’d like to catch a Barramundi which are apparently kept stocked in the river, as we’ve said before, we are not really fishermen.

Bus woes

While we were looking for a spot to camp, we noticed some serious noise coming from our gears, they were slipping. This is so serious that Rob has to investigate.

You can see the stretched chain here – it should be hanging like that!

Though there are problems to be expected from an old bus, we certainly didn’t expect to have problems with our gear chain as that was fully replaced with brand new ones that we had to have made for us in America just 14,000km ago. The bad news is that the chain has stretched. Rob doesn’t want to move on until he can do something. He decides to make a run to Bundaberg and pick up a nylon block or two to do a temporary fix.

Free camping at Babinda

Babinda has a lovely park set aside for free camping just about 60km south of Cairns. The park is on the other side of the  railway line from town but still within easy walking distance – maybe 600 metres.

 

Babinda Rest Area itself has good shade along the river though it is mostly closed off the campers now but there is still places to camp on grass or you can choose the flat gravel area above. I really recommend the gravel area in times of wet weather as it gets rather boggy on the grassy area as can be expected right next to a creek (which floods easily too!) It is a clean facility with limited covered picnic areas, toilets, hot water showers (gold coin operated) and a dump point.

The town has a couple of craft shops including a scrapbooking shop, cafes, mini supermarket, pharmacy, mechanic, pubs etc. So make use of the town as a thank you for having a free camp in the area. Without us free campers supporting the businesses, the town would suffer greatly.

We have stopped here before in 2012 and we find that it is becoming more and more popular as well as there are more and more RVs on the road now too!

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