Cape York is that “pointy bit” above Cairns and is very remote with very poor vehicle access (4 WD only). Best accessed by commercial or chartered aircraft where you would fly for an hour north of Cairns landing at the established airfield of Weipa. There are a few flights each day but you would generally arrive around mid-afternoon and depart shortly after. Weipa is Located 838 km north of Cairns on a road that varies from the sublime to the horrendous. Weipa is a mining town with a population of over 3000 people. Although geographically part of the Cooktown Shire (a shire which covers 11 330 000 ha from Cooktown to the Cape) it is run by a Weipa Town Office under a special act of the Queensland Parliament which gave the town the status of a Special Bauxite Mining Lease and handed control over to Comalco Aluminium. The actual lease covers an area of 2590 sq. km.
The Weipa area was the first stretch of the Australian coastline ever explored by Europeans. The Dutch explorer Willem Jansz, sailing the Duyfken, first sighted the coast near Weipa in 1606. The northern point of Albatross Bay is still named Duyfken Point in honour of the expedition. Matthew Flinders was the first person to note the possible mineral potential of the area. In 1802 while circumnavigating Australia he noted that the cliffs around Albatross Bay had a distinctive reddish hue.
Missionaries arrived in the area in 1891 and a decade later the geologist C.F.V. Jackson noted the presence of bauxite. There was little interest in the mineral at the time – the gold discoveries at the Wenlock River were attracting much more attention. In 1947 further research into the mineral potential of the area was carried out but the samples were poor and generated little interest. It wasn’t until 1955, when geologist Harry Evans, realised that Matthew Flinders ‘reddish cliffs’ were, in fact, virtually pure bauxite that the potential of the area began to be exploited. The result is that Weipa is now the largest bauxite mine in the world. The known deposits are likely to last for another 250 years at the present rate of extraction.
The Weipa township is totally planned. It was built by Comalco and the state government in the early 1960s and the port of Weipa was officially opened in 1962. Since then the town has continued to expand. The town’s newest area of Trunding lies south of the old settlement at Rocky Point. Today Weipa is a mining town where bauxite is mined, washed, graded and loaded for shipment to the aluminium processing plant at Gladstone. In some instances the raw bauxite is shipped directly overseas. Weipa’s secondary production facilities include a calcination plant, which was opened in 1970, and a kaolin plant, which was opened in 1986.
To the south of the town, on the banks of the Embley, Hey, Pine and Mission Rivers are the strange phenomenon known as the Weipa Shell Mounds. These mounds contains something like 200 000 tonnes of shells which seem to have been placed in the area about 800 years ago. There are a number of theories of the origin of the mounds (some of which are up to 9 metres high) but so far no one has offered an entirely convincing explanation.
But now on to the important information – flyfishing of course.
The mining town of Weipa, the “oasis in the wilderness”, is known as the Barramundi capital of Queensland and is considered the jump off point to explore the remote wilderness of the western Cape York. The Weipa region also boasts some of the most pristine eco systems on the entire Cape. Having banned commercial fisherman from this area for many years has ensured the diversity of this very special place and makes it a recreational and sport fisherman’s paradise.
Fishing options are not limited to just Barra, and many of Australia’s premier tropical sportfish call these pristine waters home. A well-presented lure or fly will entice mangrove jacks, fingermark, trevally, queenfish, salmon (king & blue) and cod from the snags and trevally, queenfish, mackerel and tuna off shore.
The near shore reefs, sand flats and rocky headlands produce brilliant sight fishing for tuna, giant herring, queenfish, golden trevally and permit – all world renowned light tackle sport fish. It’s a truly amazing fishery!
Like all fishing, seasons do play a major part in your prime target options and Weipa is no different.
March – Early June
Immediately after the “wet” can be a truly magical time to fish this region but it is obviously subject to the length and severity of the rainy season. The weather in April, May and early June is usually near perfect and these months can feature the best fishing of the entire year. This is top time to target barramundi, jacks, queenfish, tuna and threadfin salmon.
Mid June – August
Mid-year in the tropics is the cooler part of the year, we don’t have a winter as such, and conditions are very comfortable. The trade winds blow off shore making this an excellent time to target the estuaries, rivers, beaches and headlands for queenfish, tuna, trevally and barra up the creeks.
September – December
Another top time to fish the top end, the weather is hot but so is the fishing! Most of our species are hungry and active prior to spawning and targets include barramundi, mangrove jacks, fingermark, trevally, queenfish and salmon. What this region does offer however, is the opportunity to easily fish various environments dependent on seasonal and prevailing weather conditions. No matter what conditions you encounter on your visit, there are a dozen or so different waterways and locations along the coast, north or south of Weipa, offering different fishing options.
How to FlyFish This Region?
Cape York flyfishing offers some of Australia’s finest. We count species rather than numbers of fish caught, and you can expect to empty your fly-box and perhaps call the rod company for that breakage guarantee, as you will undoubtedly encounter one that is simply too much to handle.
As Weipa is only a short flight from Cairns it is well worth the effort as the flyfishing potential is simply staggering. On arrival in Weipa you will be met at the airport and driven to your accommodation or direct to the mother-ship, which will be ready to sail. Land based accommodation includes a number of excellent options that we can arrange for you.
We separate flyfishing the Cape into either Land-based or Mother-ship charters. Land-based can range from one day to as many as you wish, while Mother-ship charters generally span six nights.