From King Ash Bay we made our way to Cobourg Peninsula via Edith Falls and then drove the rest of the way very hungover after a night on Mitchell St in Darwin.
Cobourg Peninsula (Garig Gunak Barlu) is on the northern side of Arnhem land. To get there you need to drive through Kakadu, cross Cahills crossing when the tide is right then continue about 250km through Arnhem land to Coburg. There’s two camping areas there, one for people with generators and one for those without. There’s plenty of campsites and hot showers with bore water. The national park service only allows 20 cars in at a time and you need to book in advance. The Park closes at the end of October. While we were there, there were only a handful cars.
There’s a plethora of activities to do at Cobourg Peninsula, some of them include; fishing from your boat, fishing from the shore or filleting fish that you caught from your boat or from the shore. There’s plenty of fishing options including numerous reefs within the bay, a creek or two, rocky headlands and some offshore reef all within an easy boat ride.
We fished pretty solidly while we were here. It took us a day or two to find our feet, and there was only one spot with live bait that we only found on our second last day but that didn’t stop us dragging in a fair few fish with plenty of variety. Some of the fish caught included: barracuda, good size cod, coral trout, spotted mackerel, barracuda, diamond trevally, golden trevally, barracuda, barramundi, big sharks, mangrove jack, sweetlip and we also caught a few barracuda.
On our last day of fishing we felt reasonably accomplished, satisfied with our efforts, a little cocky like a pimply teenager that just grew his first pube and now considered himself a big man. Our first pube confidence which had taken a week to nurture was all undone in about an hour. First of all Kev wrestled a huge shark (below) which showed him who was boss by snapping his rod in twain.
A few minutes after that we noticed a Croc sneaking it’s way into the creek, stealthily hugging the mangroves acting like it owned the place.
With all of my first pube confidence I said to the others, “That one isn’t even that big, probably only 2 or 2 and a half metres.”
It slowly worked it’s way until it was directly off the starboard side of the boat, still hugging the mangroves. It then went back under water and changed its direction to swim directly to the side of the boat. It surfaced 2 metres from the side of the boat and stared at us, the two and a half metre guess turning out to be more like four and a half, it was the length of the boat. It continued to stare. We stood motionless, the only way to describe the intensity of the moment is to reference the hbo medieval thriller Game of Thrones. We were Jon Snow facing off the army of undead white walkers from a rickety raft, while all else was stunned silence.
But instead of being ruggedly handsome and courageous Jon Snow we were more like this guy from The Simpsons.
First pube confidence completely shattered, broken just like my wavering voice as I said, “I’ll st-art the mot-or, Kev pull up the anchor!”
We saw signs of crocs all around Cobourg. From crocodile crossing at the campsite to croc slides on the beach.
The theory that crocs only live in dirty creeks was proven wrong. This croc slide was about 20km from the nearest creek.
We made a day trip to some ruins called Victoria settlement. This settlement lasted from approximately 1838 to 1849 when they called it quits after numerous deaths. You need to travel there by boat, but once there you can do a walk around the ruins. There’s descriptions for each ruin.
Cobourg Peninsula is also home to the nocturnal Indonesian Bantang cow, easily confused with the delicious Indonesian Bintang beer. Indonesian Macassan (from Sulawesi) people traded extensively with the aboriginal people up this way, before the white man came. The Indonesian sailors often took young aboriginal boys as deck hands on their ships. I think it’s funny that a large part of Australian politics often deteriorates to scare mongering about boat people, while the history of ‘boat people’ in this part of Australia pre-dates white settlement.
Mmmmm roast pork…
How to get there:
From Cahills crossing follow the signs approximately 270km to Cobourg Peninsula. Make sure you have enough fuel for the return journey, the last place to buy fuel is at Jabiru. It’s about a 620km round trip from Jabiru, and you’ll need some extra fuel for sight seeing, trips to the boat ramp etc.
A permit for Cobourg costs $232.10 for one week and must be applied for online a week or two before you intend to go there.
There’s a reasonable boat ramp and you can leave your boat in the water. Most people leave their boat at the boat ramp with their gear, theft here doesn’t seem to be a problem.
There’s a wetlands drive, a coastal drive where you can pick mud crabs from under the rocks (crab pots are prohibited). It’s also worthwhile breaking up the fishing with a trip to Victoria settlement.