Triple Tail, Salmon or Barramundi?
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself going fishing in Broome. But that’s exactly where I ended up – knee deep in the waters of Roebuck Bay, with some of the keen Year 9 students from Broome Senior High School.
Follow the Dream
Working on the Follow the Dream after school program https://broomeshs.wa.edu.au/specialist-programs/follow-the-dream/ for Indigenous students at the school is a privilege. I assist with tutoring English, mentor students and help with homework assignments. And this week, the wonderful, hard-working co-ordinator, teacher Tim Gray, arranged a special fishing trip for Year 9 students and their tutors.
The School Bus
I haven’t been in a school bus since I attended Hastings Girls’ High School in New Zealand, off to compete in hockey matches and athletics at schools in Hawkes Bay.
Of course, the scenery here in the north of Western Australia is vastly different from the dry scorched farmland of Hawkes Bay. Surrounded by its signature rich red soil and red dust, the countryside around Broome is spectacular. Once we were off road, the old school bus was in its element, traversing the corrugations and soft red sand with ease.
Arriving in Roebuck Bay, the first thing I saw was the ‘You are in crocodile country – beware’ notice. And indeed, the mangroves at Crab Creek are well known as a croc home.
Once all the fishing gear was unloaded we each grabbed a bucket and, backpack on, off we went, across the rocks to the water.
The tides here in Broome are absolutely stupendous – over 11 metres – the sea can seem to vanish and then come flooding back. The low tides expose kilometre-wide mudflats – and that’s what we had to walk over to reach the water.
Not having proper reef shoes, I wore my usual runners, and pretty soon I was squelching through the mud, sinking at times to ankle height.
Crabs and Coral
On the way, some of the boys were delighted to catch the sweet tasting blue crabs and they were tossed into the bucket with great glee.
A huge trumpet shell fish was eagerly seized.
We were mindful of the beautifully coloured exposed live coral as we gradually made our way to the sea. Then it was a matter of keeping up with the ebbing tide to cast our lines and hopefully snag some fish.
There was much hilarity and re-casting of the lines as we moved further and further out to sea. The coastline seemed to recede even further and I must admit, when I looked down at the murky water, I had a moment’s panic when I saw a big crab swim by and someone yelled out ‘stingray’.
The Broome Hovercraft zoomed past us and onto the mud flats, heading for the coast with tourists eager to experience the famous dinosaur footprints. It’s the less muddy, easier way to see the dinosaur footprints.
As the sun set, the keenest people were still in the waters of Roebuck Bay, desperate to secure a catch. A group of us had headed back to where we had left our gear, and as it was getting cold, I took my jumper out of my backpack and discovered it was wet through. Silly me – my backpack had been sitting on the wet sand.
Hungrily, the students raided the food rations, and devoured them very quickly so by the time the others finally emerged from the water about 6.45pm there was nothing left for them to eat!
Except maybe the small shark that they had managed to catch!
Staircase to the Moon
“I think we’ll wait until the moon comes up until we make our way back” Tim said. So we stood in the inky blackness until a blood red moon rose from the horizon. “Blood red means Barramundi” one of the girls said to me. We watched it slowly climb the sky, creating a “staircase to the moon” effect across the tidal mud flats. Then, half an hour later, our group made its way slowly back to the Broome Senior High School bus, aided by torch and moonlight.
What an experience! I would say it was a “one and only” because I’m not sure I would do it again. It took quite a lot of stamina to clamber with the younger ones across all the rocks and the mud flats, however I’m pleased to say that this granny didn’t lag too far behind!
The moon did look amazing as it rose from the horizon and drew itself up into the sky. It created an eerie glow and was spectacular.
All in all, another magical experience in Broome – the town by the bay, in WA.