Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Breaking the 'Goodoo hoodoo' Fly away west

Fly-fishing is traditionally associated with mountain streams; now anglers are taking this graceful art to the coast.

Story and photos Peter Morse

The wild and windy emptiness of the ocean meeting the great silent, still, space of the desert happens in a few places in the world, all of them very dramatic. Much of the Western Australian coast is a meeting of desert and sea. It begins at Zuytdorf Cliffs north of Kalbari, where huge ocean swells smash against the coast sending a mist of salty sea spray far inland, and for the purpose of this story, ends 1000 kilometres north, at Exmouth.

Along this coast you can stand on a beach with the deep blue crashing surf of the Indian Ocean in front of you – at your back is a rim of blinding white coastal sand dunes concealing the desert and its escarpment of worn ancient reefs filled with fossilised coral remnants. Stunted desert figs grow on the ridges and in the cracks in the rocks; wedge tailed eagles have no trees to perch on, just low bushes and rocky outcrops. Away from the cool of the sea, among the rolling red sand dunes and sparse mallee scrub it is fiercely hot. Dusty western desert kangaroos are plentiful, but all life here walks, flies, and hops a fine line of survival.

The sea is another matter, it teems with a wide variety of life. The range of fish species is impressive, especially for those shore-based anglers prepared to walk that extra mile away from the crowds of the winter months, or to visit the area during the blazing heat of summer. North of Carnarvon, past Quobba Station, the coastline becomes a landscape of pure white sand beaches separated by rocky headlands and long stretches of old reef ledges that offer excellent platforms to fish from.

Sadly, habitat destruction and over fishing have reduced cod numbers to a fraction of their original population. Though many casual anglers dream of catching a Murray cod, in the past consistent success has come only to dedicated cod anglers. Today, however, things are improving for our largest native freshwater fish. Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 37 October/November 2004

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