Darwin today is a sophisticated city of almost 100 000 inhabitants that still retains some of its pioneering spirit and irreverence of times past. It sits on a peninsula hemmed in by the large and still un-spoilt Darwin Harbour and miles of beautiful beaches on the seaward side. The area definitely is an Anglers Heaven.
The airport in Darwin is accessed from around the world via Singapore. It also has several flights daily from most capitalcities via Jetstar and Virgin.
Tourism is very important to the Northern Territory and accordingly Darwin and the Top End has a large number of accommodation from 5 star resorts to caravan parks. Accommodation can be tough to get in the peak traveller season of June to Sep so bookings should be made well ahead.
The Top End (Darwin Area) has 2 seasons only. The dry season and the rainy or wet season.
May to Sep is hot with rare rainfall and low humidityand typical daily maximums in the low 30’s and nights in the low 20’s. October to Christmas sees irregular storms and increasing humidity and temperatures. The rainy season arrives with the monsoons from Christmas to March (give or take a month) with great flooding usually happening.
Barra and other estuary species will begin to feed aggressively when the wet season has finished and the flood pains are draining into the estuaries, estuaries and streams. This is known as the run off. Pelagic fishing for Spanish Mackerel, Tuna and others warms up from Aug onwards and with the rising humidity, water and air temperatures from mid Sep onwards, all species are feeding well.
The Darwin region has a number of excellent fishing environments. These include harbours and estuaries, streams and streams, flood plains and billabongs widely known for the barramundi fishing. But please do not make the mistake of targeting just barramundi as the area also has numerous natural and man-made reef systems, and very productive bluewater, pelagic and game fishing.
You do not need a NT amateur fishing permit. However , recreational fishers currently need a temporary licence for recreational fishing on and over aboriginal tribal country and adjoining waters. Contact the Northern Lands Council (NLC) on 1800 645 299 or by visiting the NLC website on www.nlc.org.au . For recreational fishing access to the Tiwi Islands enquiries should be directed to Tiwi Enterprises on 08-8941 1162.
Everything in the NT is big. It’s a massive land with a tiny population and hence travel over big distances is the norm up here. Travel into remote regions should really only be done in well-provisioned 4WD cars with plenty of supplies on board. Roads in remote areas are usually dirt and frequently in poor maintainence. Many areas are restricted access Native lands where permits are needed. Every kind of automobiles can be rented here but generally only 4WD can be taken off paved roads.
Watch out for crocodiles.. And lots of them!
The entire north coast of Australia is crocodile habitat and they’ve been protected since the 1970’s so their numbers are rising. Estuarine or Saltwater crocodiles can be aggressive particularly during the breeding season from October onwards so great care needs to be taken and local guiding and information should be acquired. Box Jellyfish are commonplace from October to May and caution should be taken to avoid snakes when bush walking.
Heat stress could be a problem for locals and visitors alike.
Lodges, Guides and Charters
There are a multitude of professional guided fishing companies available in and around Darwin. And sadly some unprofessional ones as well. Visiting anglers should select operations with well established reputations. The blue water day charters out of Darwin will book out well ahead in the peak tourist seasons of June to September. The lodges will most likely book out early for the peak months of April and May and also October and Nov.
Most remote area lodges will require fly in on smaller charter aircraft from Darwin. This is in general included in the price. Most will also include all the needed fishing gear.
Wildlife, nature and indigenous culture are the primary reasons that general holiday makers come to the Top End. National parks, camping out and festivals are popular. The Darwin Cup horse racing carnival runs over two weeks beginning late July and the Darwin Festival features all types of music, performance and art during Aug.
Paul Collery runs Sports Fishing Adventures and Fly Fishing Adventures, companies that specialise in unique sports and fly fishing trips to remote areas around Australia, New zealand and the Pacific.The company is based in Darwin.