We have just returned from a fantastic camping trip to Pennefather River, located north of Weipa.
Day one consisted of a long day of driving from Cairns to Weipa. We stayed overnight at the Weipa Camping Ground in a cabin and enjoyed a pub meal at the Weipa Bowls Club. The Prado had a staked tyre on the way up so we had to change a flat tyre in the morning.
The trip from Weipa to Pennefather River took about two and a half hours. The majority of the road was in great condition but the final stretch had severe corrugations followed by the challenging sandy “swamp track” to the river mouth. We dropped the tyre pressures of the car and boat trailer to 16psi.
The camping area on the river mouth has spectacular scenery but you may also choose to camp on the beach or further down the river. We launched the boat just outside of a natural lagoon situated just inside the mouth of the river. This lagoon holds three large crocodiles that are very timid. Over the course of the week, we only once saw the head (large!) of one of the crocodiles watching me cast for bait during a low tide and a few sets of “red eyes” when spot lighting at night.
Shower water from a bore is available from a tap/hose in front of Ranger Pete’s house and he said to take as much as we like.
There are two toilets under construction in the camp site area but they are not completed at this stage. There are a few existing toilets set up by previous campers but these cannot be relied upon.
Fishing during the week we were there was not that “hot” and we, along with the other campers, had more luck/action fishing from shore than in the boat. Using live bait caught in the lagoon, people were catching queenfish, trevally and big sharks at the mouth of the river. Talking to other campers, they report further up the river can produce barramundi, mangrove jack, queenfish, trevally, salmon and other species when the weather is good. However, you must be prepared to head far up the river (5km). Manta rays and sharks jumping from the water are a regular occurrence. The westerly winds were blowing hard for most of the week for us which limited our access to the river. We did get out of the mouth early one morning to the reefs just offshore and had our popper lures followed up on several occasions. People do regularly catch coral trout and other reef fish just hundreds of metres off the beach.
Many of the campers brought along four wheeler motorbikes and these were perfectly suited for the area. For example, they can head over to the lagoon to cast for bait the head over to the mouth for fishing. They can head down to the beach to watch the turtle eggs hatching at night or explore one of the many tracks in the area. If I had a choice between a boat & four wheeler bike for Pennefather, I’d choose the bike.
The weather at this time of the year was good overall but we did experience one huge tropical thunderstorm with lightning cracking overhead and massive downpours over the course of almost an hour. Luckily the OzTent was up to the task!
I also used a Spot GPS Satellite Messenger for the first time and had mixed results. I used it to mark points of interest and send a daily “check-in” email to family & friend. I’ve included the link to my Spot map below.
All in all, a fantastic spot and one that I look forward to returning to over the coming years.
Photos here – http://ozmatrix.com/gallery/v/holidays/penne10
Video here –