Dundee Beach, NT
Dave’s fishing buddy Keith, and his wife Terina have become good friends of ours. They own a bush block with a small holiday house on it at Dundee Beach, which is 145km from Darwin. They kindly offered their place up for us to stay at and of course we jumped at the chance to explore new territory.
We opted to stay in Dusty in the front yard, which is an open grassy area surrounded by shady trees, with a fire pit and a view of the ocean – only 100 metres away.
We wandered through the front yard towards the bluey green ocean and soon we found ourselves on a cliff top with an astounding 180º view of a huge expanse of untouched beach.
We found an easy path down onto the sand, where we stood and stared in wonder. We seriously took minutes of staring to take it all in. The only sound was the waves and there was no one to be seen. We imagined this area would be a resort builders dream, but I guess not being able to swim in the ocean is a down turn. All the same, this is one of those hidden gem locations in Australia that is well worth the visit!
And believe it or not the fishing right there off the rocks was tremendous that afternoon!
While fishing off the rocks we were lucky enough to watch gigantic manta rays come in to feed in the shallows. We watched four rays spread out along the beach, splashing and rolling around to scoop up bait fish. Multiple times one came within metres of where we were standing and you can’t help but appreciate just how huge these creatures are. It’s hard to imagine but they are metres wide! We were rapt watching them for hours and had the biggest grins on our faces the whole time. Now that’s something you don’t see everyday!
Just to throw one more very cool thing into the mix, Dave spotted a huge croc cruising on by about 20 metres out. It’s the first one he’s seen in the ocean and I was spewing I’d missed it. Even growing up in Darwin I had never seen it myself. It’s one thing to see them in a billabong or river where they dominate the habitat, but it was another to see one so stealthy and cruising through what feels more like our domain. Despite them being ‘saltwater crocodiles’ they actually don’t live off the beach, they’ll generally just use the beach as a gateway when moving from one river to another. So it’s not a common site to see one at the beach (unless you’re near a river mouth which we were).
That night we had an amazing sunset and enjoyed our campfire dinner – the fresh salmon Dave had caught of course! The weekend had felt like a holiday. We were in heaven and loving this true territory experience.
We had an instant connection with this place and it was not long before we were back at Dundee beach to fish and camp over multiple weekends.
On one of those trips we joined our friends/the owners over the Easter long weekend and absolutely LOVED hanging out with them and experiencing a new side of fishing at Dundee beach. This time we got to head out in a boat ocean fishing! We didn’t have luck with our mud crabbing at the river mouth, but we did catch fish out in the deeper waters. Plus, I didn’t have to wait long to see a crocodile in the ocean – whoopee, on this trip I saw just that.
Another day we drove inland and dropped the boat into the freshwater side of the famous Finniss River. Famous for being the location where Darwin’s well known crocodile ‘Sweetheart’ was captured. Sweetheart was the name given to a 5.1 metre saltwater croc responsible for a series of attacks on boats in between 1974 and 1979. This made territory history because at this point in time crocs were not known to attack humans and boats. Culling was stopped in the 70’s but this had left an impression on the crocs who were used to being shot at, and therefore would normally disappear at the first sign of a boat or human. But not Sweetheart, it is said she attacked boat propellers!
We were seriously blown away at how beautiful this river was and started to gain a huge appreciation for just how scenic the river systems in the territory are. It was such a pleasure to cruise along this river – an abundance of bird life, fresh green water, pandanus lined banks with low hanging paperbarks draping into the water. We felt so privileged to be taken out with locals to experience fishing in the top end at it’s best.
Keith and Terina also invited us to join their group in a small and exclusive fishing competition. It’s an invite only comp, so we felt pretty lucky to be apart of it. Dave jumped at the opportunity to fish and I was happy being a spectator. Groups of competitors set up their camps over two locally owed bush blocks at Dundee and took off for a day to fish their secret spots. Upon return there was much fun in comparing stories and fish sizing, and of course all were looking forward to the presentation night with prizes up for grabs. We enjoyed a fun filled weekend of meeting really great people and enjoying group bbqs with a few cheeky drinks while exchanging stories.
Our year of visits to Dundee beach have left a huge impression on us and solidifies just how much we love the bush and lifestyle of the top end. This is what the tourists don’t get to see, and we are SO stoked to have locals welcome us and show us their hidden gem of a place. Dave and I do feel that we have made the most of our time here and experienced the best of what the top end has to offer – all from a local’s perspective.