Remote Groote Eylandt is a stunning place to visit and it offers some of the country’s best fishing.

Story By Alistair McGlashan

The fabulous fishing along the eastern side of the Gulf of Carpentaria has been well documented for years, thanks to easy access at places such as Weipa. However, the western side, off the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land, is still largely unexplored thanks to its remoteness. There are few roads and miles of country to explore from mangrove-lined creeks to coral reefs. Territory fisherman Andrew Paas says it’s one of the most inaccessible fishing spots in Australia.
The largest island in the gulf, Groote Eylandt, lies some 50 kilometres off the coast. Surrounded by clean water and extensive coral reefs, it is certainly a stark contrast from the rest of the gulf, which is murky and shallow. The name Groote Eylandt is Dutch for ‘large island’, and was so named by Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in 1644. Rob McCulloch, head fishing guide and co-manager of the new Escape Sportfishing Lodge, says it was sighted by Captain Willem van Coolsteerdt aboard another Dutch ship Arnhem in 1623 but wasn’t given a European name until Tasman came across it later.
Insulated by Arnhem Land, Groote and its surrounding waters have seen no fishing pressure at all and not surprisingly the fishing is incredible with everything from barramundi to sailfish, Spanish mackerel and coral trout. Television presenter and keen angler Andrew (‘ET’) Ettingshausen has visited the island many times and always raved about the fishing, so when the opportunity arose to develop a specialised sportfishing lodge he was on it in a flash. “It’s an amazing destination that has literally untold fishing options,” ET says. “Where else could you catch a barra in the morning then go catch a marlin in the afternoon?”

This story excerpt is from Issue #59

Outback Magazine: June/July 2008