4-day blokes’ fishing and adventure weekend in Cairns
With a famous coastline of deserted beaches and rocky headlands – and with the world’s oldest rainforest growing right down to the sea – there are few places on Earth that offer the fishing and adventure options for a blokes’ weekend away than Cairns.
And being the second biggest city in Tropical North Queensland, with more nightlife options than anywhere outside a capital, once your fishing’s done, the action’s only just beginning.
So tell the boss you’re off to catch some giant barra, grab your best mates and book yourself in for this ultimate blokes’ weekend (or long weekend) away.
5PM: Just in time for Happy Hour
Arrive into Cairns during Friday afternoon or evening in time to sample its infamous nightlife, which never quits regardless of what night of the week it is. You might be 1700kms from the nearest capital city, but there are more options here for night owls than almost any other regional city in Australia.
Test your luck, or choose from four restaurants and four bars at Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, head for backpacker hotspots like the Woolshed Saloon Bar or Gilligans, or try some more sophisticated night options with great live music at cocktail bars like Earth Tapas and Cocktail Lounge and The Pier Bar.
AM: On the hunt for barramundi
Get yourself to some of the prettiest beaches in Australia, just north of town. There’s more on offer here than sunbathers in bikinis with some of the best off-the-beach fishing options in the state.
You don’t have to go far either; Machans Beach is the closest beach to Cairns International Airport, in Cairns’ northern suburbs.
The best time to fish here is over the rising tide – especially during bigger tides and when the weather’s calm.
At Machans Beach, fish around the mouth of the Barron River with live and fresh baits to nab some monster barramundi. The earlier in the morning the better around here, provided you didn’t stay out too late!
Then, head to Holloways where Thomatis Creek feeds out for giant barra and finish up your triple threat at Trinity Beach – its rocky headland creates a deep-water gutter, especially at the southern end, and that’s gold for whiting.
PM: Go jump!
Take the plunge of your life with your mates – AJ Hackett Bungy has the largest range of jump and swing options in the world. And it’s only 15kms from Cairns CBD.
Surrounded on all sides by tropical rainforest with views out to the Great Barrier Reef, you can ride with two of your mates on the Minjin Jungle Swing, or jump 45 metres straight to Earth and shoot straight back up like a flapping marlin using 16 different jump styles.
There’s no better way to scare the living daylights out of yourself – and test the bravery of your fishing companions.
8PM: Night Fishing
Take advantage of the fact everyone else is out partying by fishing the mighty Barron River by yourselves.
You’ll need a boat for this fishing excursion, but the river’s just north of Cairns. You can access it at Stratford, right beside the Captain Cook Highway Bridge.
Launch the boat and head right towards the head of Thomatis Creek. There’s mangrove jack waiting along the mangroves on every river bank here – though it’s the deeper holes by the bends of the river that hold the best fish.
Fishing this river also gives you the best chance of hooking huge barramundi – and that’s what it’s all about. Though the threadfin salmon here are also spectacular – and many say make better eating than barra.
AM: Fish the headlands
Get out early if you want to nab the biggest fish, and now’s decision time: you can either take your boat if the weather’s calm, or stick to land-based fishing if it’s a little unsettled.
Cairns’ Net Free Zone is home to some spectacular headlands just north of town which attract a truckload of big fish – the best headlands are between Yorkeys Knob and Taylors Point at the end of Trinity Beach.
If you’re taking a boat, launch it at the Half Moon Creek Boat Ramp or Yorkeys Knob Boat Ramp – but only if the wind’s below 15 knots as these areas cop the wind and swell.
These areas fish best over the larger tides and all three headlands are fed by nearby creeks so on these bigger tides bait is flushed out of the creeks, attracting barramundi and mangrove jack.
The Yorkeys Knob headland has a natural rocky groyne – and the sweeping tide moving down the beach creates an eddy of water behind it, which captures bait and schools of barramundi, salmon and mangrove jack.
Bordering north and south of Trinity Beach are two large rocky headlands, which are big barramundi and salmon magnets too.
PM: Practice your swing
Swap the rods for clubs and try some of Queensland’s best golf courses – they’re not far from the middle of Cairns and come with added tough cred. You’ll have to keep an eye out for salt-water crocodiles, built as they are right within mangroves and rainforest beside the Pacific Ocean.
Cairns Golf Club is the closest to the CBD, Half Moon Bay Golf Club is built right beside some of Cairns’ best fishing beaches, though if you want a challenge at one of Australia’s top public courses, take on 94 bunkers and six lakes at Paradise Palms, just 20 minutes drive north.
AM: Fish the inlet
Save some of the best fishing till last (and you’ll avoid weekend warriors). Stay for a long weekend and take to Trinity Inlet and its neighbouring flat – a huge tidal estuary that stretches on for a length of 85kms.
This area is a boat fisherman’s absolute dream – there’s creeks, drains and snags to fish for everything from golden snapper to grunter to big barra. Launch your vessel just out of Cairns at the Tingara Street/ Smith Street ramp.
There’s a number of options here depending on the weather. When it’s rougher and conditions close to the mouth are no good, fish the mid-to-upper reaches of the inlet. When the wind and weather make conditions closer to the mouth okay, it’s best to fish the creeks and flats closer in as they tend to have the larger fish.
If you get really good weather just head right out the front to an area known as Hospital Flats. These big mud flats hold plenty of bait after some heavy rain and attract a lot of barramundi. If you can’t get yourselves some decent fish along the inlet you’ll feel very hard done by!