Top End trip with kids

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 09:27
ThreadID: 68000 Views:3925 Replies:7 FollowUps:4
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Hi Guys

We're new to your site. We are contemplating a 6 month trip from Brisbane to Cape York, through the gulf and up towards Darwin with our dog and two girls aged 3 and 5. We would leave in a few weeks and take a Patrol wagon, 4wd camper trailer and boat (not bought yet) for barra and saratoga fishing.

My concerns are crocs with the kids and dog while we are fishing and camping along rivers even if we are croc wise and camp 50 m from waters edge. Therefore I'd like to take as big of a boat as possible but as we want the camper trailer as well i'm limited (i'd prefer to take a hornet trophy 4.55 with side console).

What do you recommend in terms of boat, outboard, and set up (ie roof top or camper top). Also, even though the misses is really keen do you think we're being silly taking the kids into croc country camping and fishing? I'm not sure if we should take the kids in the boat if we only take a 3.5m tinny. I've done a fair bit of Barra fishing and not hapeless in a boat but i'm still nervous about the idea.

One last thoung is that I was considering bringing my 21 year old nephew so he could help with the kids, boat, winch if req'd, etc.

Any suggestions would be great thanks.
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Reply By: Member - Tony B (Malanda FNQ) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 11:06

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 11:06
Dryden. Boat should have high sides, I like 12-13ft Min and a 15 hp will suffice. Mount it on the camper if you are towing one. Good to keep it off your vehicle.
Fishing remote and crocodiles is another thing. I have done it with my kids on the Cape and in the Gulf, remote rivers fishing off the banks and in the boat. We have had no problem with the kids to date. But and here is the but> We were fishing the banks of the Morgan north of Cooktown my two kids aged around 10 and 12 My Father and I. Spent the day walking the banks and casting lures and even cast netting on sandbanks, all ways aware that there are large crocodiles there. The kids would be apart from us trying there owns spots at times. We had a great day and told a mate about the spot. He went with his wife and two very large dogs the next weekend. The mate spent some time on a bank where my son had spent quite some time fishing the week before two days in a row, on the second day he left and the dog (very large dog) lingered. My mate heard a loud splash ran back and the dog was never seen again. The crocodile was also never seen.

Moral to the story it is not always safe fishing in crocodile country and you will not always see what is lurking in the depths.

I have been back fishing at that spot a couple of times and still not seen a crocodile, but we know it is there. Spoken Rule is not to go to the same spot at the same time each day to set a precedence. A croc will sit and watch and will set up an ambush opportunity.

Lots fish up North with no problems and more than likely you will be in the same boat. But you have to know the danger is there.

Have a great trip :-). Cheers Tony
AnswerID: 360310

Follow Up By: Member - RockyOne - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 12:22

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 12:22
Great message Tony B.. Every family venturing into those areas with or without their dog,should read it. I guess the folk will know that dog friends are unlikely to be allowed in legally to National Parks and they should also brush up on what drinks they can carry into community areas as the penalties can be quite severe. UHF (47mhz) radios are the norm up there. AM (27mhz) is ok if you want to listen into the people smugglers I guess
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Reply By: Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 15:54

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 15:54
A boat with good high sides like below I feel would be the minimum.

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Reply By: Dryden - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 18:02

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 18:02
Thanks guys for your comments. I think we'll leave our beloved dog at my sisters place! Seriously. The National parks issue topped it off. Do you think it's safe for the kids (3 and 5yo) to ride in a 3.5m tinny with high sides and a 15hp on the back up there. Othewise i'll bring my nephew so the kids don't need to come in the boat much.
AnswerID: 360387

Follow Up By: Member - Josh (VIC) - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 20:22

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 20:22
Hi Dryden,
Not so sure about being in the boat with the kids. I have not heard of a croc taking a 3.5 mtr boat but the risk is always there when fishing. ie. fish splashing in the water croc watching, kids learn over to see. We did the jumping croc tour in Darwin(worth a look) Gave me a whole new respect for these mighty animals. When we got up towards croc country we were very nervous about the crocs. Common sense has to prevail with them. We hear all the time of people being taken but they were doing dumb things, walking in to check crab pots, swimming across a river after getting drunk, walking along a river known for big crocs. They say the safe distance is 3 mtrs from the water when fishing. At the end of the day we decided it just wasn't worth putting our girls or our selves at risk so we were very careful. Yes we may have missed out on some fishing or seeing some things but we are still alive and having a great trip around oz. We are heading to cape york in june so I geuss I will be nervous again.
When we were in Darwin we saw a small croc (1.5-2 mtr) of the Stokes hill wharf. Two nights later some guys who had been drinking heavily were swimming there. We told them we saw the croc and they just laughed. We left as we did not want to have to worry about what could've happened.
Friends of ours were fishing near Kununurra. Their nephew caught a small barra. As he stepped back of the rock a croc snapped at him from the bottom of the rock. Noone even saw the croc until it jumped. That was the end of their fishing.
Better safe than sorry I say.

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Follow Up By: Top End Explorer Tours - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 21:11

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 21:11
Josh the answer is yes a 3.5 mt boat is safe, if you skipper it well, By the way the boat in Doug's post is mine.LOL

Leave the dog at home and fish with care.

Travel safe Steve.
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Reply By: Dryden - Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 21:30

Sunday, Apr 19, 2009 at 21:30
Thanks Guys.

Will not take the dog and will not take the kids out in the boat. We'll post again you've been a great help.

AnswerID: 360437

Reply By: Serendipity of Mandurah (WA) - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 03:08

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 03:08
Hi Dryden

I have lived in the territory for years but now in WA and would have to agree with the previous comments. We camped all over the territory with primary aged kids but would always take croc care. I always tried to find a high bank to camp on - 3metres plus so I would be up top or just plain camp a long way from water. Don't leave food or waste around as it will attract crocs or worse the bloody dingos at night. They will come into camp and take everything while you are asleep.

As for walking the banks on croc infested country - just don't do it. Crocs are smart enough to line up the kids rather than the adults. You could walk along with your kids right behind you and the kids will get taken. The only safe place to swim in the territory is a swimming pool in the caravan park. In any water hole if you can't see the bottom don't go near it. I have seen crocs over 5m lying in 500mm of dirty water.

With your tinny - 3.5 is fine for billabongs but can get a bit hard for run off rivers - especially with a 15 on the back. Unfortunately that is about all you could roof rack. The hornet trophy is just too heavy. If you go out don't over load a small boat with the whole family - it is just too scary. I had a situation where a 4m croc lined up my 8 year old and was going to take him out of the boat. All we could do was stamp our feet and briefly scare him away then get the hell out of there. That was a 4.2 m boat. I have had many crocs stalk the boat while fishing. And remember you only see 1 in 10 crocs. I hope they bring back the croc culls - there are just too many floating handbags out there for my liking. I have two bent propellers from hitting crocs unseen out in the middle of the water.

Most of the water holes around Darwin have boats to hire at the water hole or for hire in and around Darwin. Consider that as to dragging a boat with you. Unless you have a collapsible trailer it can be a real hassle to take the camp trailer out to a billabong just to launch the boat.

Dogs attract crocs. Dogs attract dingos. Dogs attract large ticks. Don't take them. Incident while living in Darwin - a guy walking his two dogs near Rapid creek and a pack of dingos comes out of the bush - kills the younger dog and severely mauls the pit bull mastiff. Bit unfortunate and never lost my dogs in Darwin.

Sounds like a great trip - and with a bit of croc sense you will have a memorable time.


Pic is on the South Alligator and my son is saying -'Can we go now - they are starting to move'.
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AnswerID: 360464

Reply By: Travelling Pixie - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 13:43

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 13:43
recently went up through north of Australia with an 8 and 10 yr olds.

tried some fishing in Darwin and Kakadu, gulf, north queensland and elsewhere.

to be honest, the constant worry about kids doing something unexpected made fishing so stressful it just was not enjoyable. fortunately we didn't have any dramas. i am sure kids that live in croc-areas are alot more savvy but for city slickers, expect anything to happen

towing a boat around, launching and retrieving at ramps (where crocs can hang out), kids leaning over the sides, finding somewhere to clean fish (when campsites often don't allow it)...i reckon just take some basic fishing gear, leave the boat at home and hire one if you feel desperate to get out on the water.

as nice as it would be to have your own, it would be alot of work

AnswerID: 360524

Reply By: Axel [ the real one ] - Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 14:36

Monday, Apr 20, 2009 at 14:36
6mth trip last yr , April thru September , 23,000 klm . ... 3.66 boat on roof , towing camper trailer ,, boat put in water ??????
TWICE ,,,, extra fuel used to cart boat = 1+ klm per lt ,,,,,, save your $$$ and do the odd charter , lots easier and local knowledge = better fish.
AnswerID: 360533

Follow Up By: Skog07 - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 21:16

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 21:16
Thanks Axel.
You confirmed an anwser for me. Looks as though the boat that I wanted to fit onto the roof top is too small anyway with the posts above to do a Cape trip later this year.
We will be chartering it.
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