Monday, October 31

Discover Weipa the exotic location in Far North Queensland Australia

By Mark Paton

Weipa, It's not a very exotic name but the largest town on the very tip of Queensland has some of the very best aspects of an exotic destination.

To start with there is the distance that it lies from the major population centres in Queensland, in fact it is closer to Port Moresby than it is to Cairns.  It's place in Australian history is assured as Duyfken Point just to the north of Weipa, is now agreed to be the first recorded point of European contact with the Australian continent.  Dutch explorer Janzoon, on his ship the Duyfken sighted the cost here in 1606.  This was 164 years before Cook sailed up the east coast of Australia.

My interest in Weipa stems from the fantastic fishing that can be had in the waters surrounding the township.  Weipa juts out into the Albatross Bay, surrounded to the north by the Mission River and to the south by the Hay and the Embley Rivers.  My Son and I have been travelling to Weipa for many years.

Access to Weipa is either via the long drive up the Peninsula Development Road, usually only accessible during the dry season, or you can try to find a berth on one of the boats that supply Weipa or you can take advantage of the two flights per day from Cairns that Qantaslink provides.

Accommodation options are limited, The Heritage Resort, The local camp ground or the Albatross Hotel.  We stayed at the Albatross Hotel which is owned by Queensland Brewing Icon Bernie Power.

The rooms are basic, but they are air conditioned and the beds comfortable.  The hotel has a wonderful deck that overlooks the Gulf of Carpentaria and some stunning sunsets whilst sipping a cooling ale.  The restaurant turns out some good quality meals and if you are lucky enough to bring home some fillets from the local waters, they will prepare them with great care for you.

On the subject of fishing we utilised the services of Lee Hodgetts from Weipa Sports Fishing,  Lee has recognised the potential of Weipa as one of Australia's premier sports fishing destinations and invested in two state of the art fishing boats.  You can access some stunning Pelagic fishing for Tuna, Mackeral, Queensfish and even Sailfish and Black Marlin.  To further highlight the versatility of Weipa you can easily access some superb fishing for Australias iconic Barramundi, as well as Threadfin Salmon, Fingermark and Mangrove Jack.  Some days you can target all the species in one day.  The local rivers have their own population of tasty Mud crabs.

If wildlife of a less aquatic nature takes your fancy, the opportunity to sight a huge number of bird species as well as some very large Saltwater Crocodiles can be taken with very little travel.  The crocodile numbers seem to increase every year and whilst wary of the eager eyed tourists manage to leave themselves on display long enough for some stunning photographs.  At night the procession of flying foxes seems to take hours.

The town primarily supports the huge Rio Tinto Alcan Bauxite mine.  In 1955 a geologist, Henry Evans, discovered the red cliffs on the Aboriginal Reserve, previously remarked on by the early Dutch explorers and Matthew Flinders, were actually enormous deposits of bauxie - the ore from which aluminium is made - and to a lesser extent tungsten.  The red cliffs that feature up and down the coast testament to the reserves of the Aluminium rich ore.  The mine runs daily tours of the mine area and its jumbo sized equipment.  An interesting note is that a large proportion of the large dump trucks are driven by women.

Weipa has a challenging golf course (the rumour about the croc in the water hazard may or may not be true) next door the bowls club has all the facilities that you would expect.  There is a post office and a well stocked supermarket in the town.  The local Tackle Shop come Newsagent is well stocked and offers good advice on what they are biting on.

Weipa is a destination that whets the Anglers appetite but has a history and raw character that will appeal to many who want to explore the wild north.

Weipa Sports Fishing
Lee Hodgets - 0431 427 129

Camp Weipa 
07 40 697 871

Albatross Bay Hotel
07 40 906 666 

We travelled with Qantas to Cairns and from Cairns to Weipa with Qantaslink.

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