The Northern Territory’s spectacular Dundee Beach provides a great stepping-off point for some of the country’s best barramundi and reef fishing.

Story By Bronte Smith

Watching the sun set on the Timor Sea is nothing short of spectacular. Emma Cartwright reckons there’s no better view of it than from the beachhouse balcony at Dundee Beach after a solid day’s fishing. And she should know. Emma operates Anglers’ Choice Fishing Safaris with Mick ‘Dundee’ Mannix, 165 kilometres south-west of Darwin. They offer a five-night, all-inclusive safari from Dundee, the gateway to the famous Peron Islands, which are the ideal location for barramundi, reef or light-tackle sport fishing.
A two-hour drive from Darwin down the Stuart Highway and across a dirt track will get you there. An even better option is a 20-minute plane trip allowing you take in the scenery across the relatively uninhabited Cox Peninsula. “We are the only fishing-charter business that operates barramundi and bluewater safaris from Dundee Beach,” Emma says. “We live at Dundee and our experience and local knowledge of the area gets the results our customers are after. We have our regulars that make the trip each year and they feel right at home.”
The group consists of eight guests – four on each of the 7.7-metre Southwind boats with twin 115hp motors, which Mick and fellow guide Paris Stephens find the ideal number to work with. The beachhouse can accommodate up to 12 guests, so with a charter of eight, there’s more than enough room for everyone. You wake up to a cooked breakfast, there’s a packed lunch on the boats and it’s back for a cold beer overlooking Fog Bay and some fresh fish or perhaps chilli mud crabs in the afternoon.
Mick has been fishing these parts for more than 15 years and as a third-generation angler in the Top End, he knows his stuff. “Dundee was a little bit of an unknown to most, yet it is so close to Darwin,” he says.
There’s a choice of reef fishing or going after some barra. Many trips last year saw clients casting lures to hungry barra in the morning then chasing schools of sailfish in the afternoon. If the wind is up then you can poke up the Finniss River and Little Finniss for some of the best barra fishing in the Territory. Sit back and enjoy the view – the abundance of birdlife and crocodiles will keep your camera rolling. Moving out from the Finniss along the rocky coastal headlands in Fog Bay also provides good saltwater barra fishing and some massive black jewfish similar to the mulloway from down south. “We fish for jewfish on the shallow inshore reefs around the bay,” Mick says. “Jewies have the softest bite on the bait but once you are hooked they go like road trains and can have people reeling to exhaustion. They are a great eating fish and freeze well in a fish box to take home to share with the family.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #69

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2010