a camping trip of ridiculous proportions

camping under the bridge

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More Warren River Trout

There’s no better way to cement our trout fishing prowess then to immediately follow up our first ever trout success with another successful trout fishing mission. This time round Mal, Hong and James joined in the action.

The trip started out with beers and pizza at the Pemberton Hotel. The pizzas were delicious and huge! We boxed up the left overs, chucked them in the car fridge and headed into the forest to find camp by the Warren River.

It drizzled throughout the first day but since we’re super tough we went fishing in the rain. Wet, steep, muddy slopes along the river bank, combined with a couple of beers, was a recipe for a few muddy bum slides and some exciting close calls at the water’s edge.

A few trout were caught, some undersized and a couple just a tick over the minimum 30cm mark. We smoked them up in the fish smoker using banana peel and garlic for the smoke source. The trout tasted fantastic. I’m glad to report the lingering salmon flavour from the fish smoker has completely disappeared after we burnt it all off on the previous camp.

James did not come prepared with waterproof boots or waders so suffered with soggy boots for most of the trip. After drying them off by the fire one night, he was keen to try to keep them dry the next day. He improvised a solution for the wet boots but it was a dismal failure – see photos.

trout fishing warren river


Warren River First Trout!

After years of demoralising failure, finally, Hong and I have caught our first trout! And what a feeling! No longer are we taunted by this long running black mark hanging over our fishing capability. We are successful trout fisherman.

First trout was caught in the Warren River, near Pemberton, over the course of a camping mission during the Western Australia Day long weekend. Sharni came along for the camp too, although did not do any fishing, instead enjoying some reading and relaxing in the awesome forests in the area, as well as some fancy coffees and food back at Pemberton. The gargantuan trees and beautiful waterways in the region are really tremendous and make a great place to camp, trout fishing or not.

Both Hong and I caught a few undersized trout which we chucked back in. Then one of us caught a sized trout big enough for keeps. I won’t say who actually caught it, not because it wasn’t me who caught it (it could have been me), but because it was a team effort. I’m not just saying that coz it was Hong that caught the fish. We both posed for photos to celebrate the awesome teamwork. Although we will always remember the great moment of catching our first trout, the specifics of who actually caught it are so unimportant that it won’t be long until we’ve forgotten who actually caught it.

We cooked our sole trout in Hong’s fish smoker. The same fish smoker we used a couple of months before to cook Australian Salmon. We noted the pungent smell of leftover fermenting salmon before cooking the trout but didn’t think it would affect cooking. How wrong we were. It was Australian Salmon flavoured trout for dinner. Yummy. We left the fish smoker on the fire that night to burn off any remaining salmon remnants.

Whilst camped up at Big Brook Aboretum, mushroom hunters visited to collect some orange mushrooms to eat. They said they weren’t sure of the name of the mushrooms. To me they did not seem very knowledgeable about mushrooms. It is not known whether they survived.

Visiting the facilities in Pemberton to download a brown-load, we noticed some black nightshade growing in the park. The ripe black berries are edible and taste slightly sweet with hints of savoury tomato-like flavour. They’re supposed to be pretty good for you, plus they’re free food, so we chowed down on a few. Apparently the leaves can be boiled up and eaten too but we didn’t try. Don’t eat the unripe green berries, they’re poisonous. They’re ripe when they are black and effortlessly fall off the plant.

kangaroo eating carrot


Wrights Bridge Camp

For the Anzac day long weekend we headed down to an old favourite campsite of ours with some friends – Wrights Bridge camping area on the Blackwood River. It’s a picturesque spot in the forest with good camp sites and is close to Balingup. We stepped it up on the luxury level compared to the super frugal easter salmon mission. We had extravagant camp oven roasts, fancy cheese and wine and visited fancy establishments in the area. We visited Nannup and checked out some antique shops, had a drink or two at the Balingup Tavern and hit up the Heritage Country Cheese factory for some delicious aged cheese to suit our sophisticated pallets. The kangaroos that hang out at the cheese factory are quite tame and willing to get up close to visitors and pose for photos, particularly if you dangle a carrot in front of them. But then the lady running the cheese shop pulled out her biggest attraction – the little joey that she rescued from the pouch of a road killed kangaroo. What a little cutie! Some quick attempts to fish the Blackwood proved fruitless. The ever elusive trout are still on my things to do list, having never caught one in the wild (I have caught trout from the Pemberton trout farm). I think next time we return to these parts we will have to make a serious attempt to catch trout.

easter australian salmon deepdene


Easter Camp Deepdene Beach

For Easter I teamed up with Hongo (again) for a traditional Easter salmon hunting mission in southwest WA. Our location of choice – Deepdene Beach, near Augusta – the place where both Hong and I landed our first salmon many years ago.

For this camp, for food, we decided to take only potatoes, carrots, onions and flour. The idea was spawned from Spudshed’s 9 cents per kilo sale on potatoes, carrots and onions and the desire to do away with the old wussy excuse of “Wah Wah Australian Salmon aren’t very nice eating fish I’m a big fussy baby” and actually eat the salmon we catch, along with any other fish we managed to land. This would be a good motivator to actually get off our ass and do some fishing. And maybe, when we’re hungry, Australian Salmon might actually taste good. That’s what we hoped.

food for easter camp

The food we took for a six day camp for two people.

Despite not being on the 9 cents / kilo list and being quite expensive (at a cost of several dollars), we included flour in our menu so we could cook up some beer damper to add some variation to our diets. So armed with Hong’s fish smoker and less than $15 worth of food, we set off on our six day adventure (we also had condiments like salt, oil, chilli powder, garlic and tomato sauce and of course a couple of cartons of beer).

First day on camp saw a salmon caught and immediately filleted and put into the smoker. It’s been a few years since last eating Australian Salmon so I had forgotten it’s unique smell and flavour. As soon as that smoker cranked up I was reminded like a swift punch to the face. Damn that stuff stinks like sh!t when cooking! A pungent, asphyxiating fishy bouquet that permeates far and wide. The taste is similar. We struggled through eating most of what we cooked and I suffered the rest of the day with a rotten fish taste in my mouth. How much more salmon did we eat for the remainder of the camp? ZERO.

smoking australian salmon

Lift the lid and the campsite is engulfed in the pungent aroma of Australian Salmon.

smoked australian salmon The occasional, rawer chunk of salmon tasted not too bad. We made a mistake with the smoker, putting it on the fire instead of using the little metho burner. This turned it into an oven and overcooked the salmon. The more cooked, the worse it tastes. We planned to try again but were somewhat disillusioned by the experience and managed to catch plenty of better stuff to keep us fed (mulloway, wobbegong shark, silver brim, herring and whiting).

Check out these dudes who rocked up in their V8 powered four wheel drives and set up shop right in front of our camp. Out of several kilometers of empty beach! And proceeded to fish and make noise into the early hours of the morning and then pack up and leave. Nice one. That’s our tent in the left foreground.

friendly fishermen at deepdene

Did we make it on the news? Whilst Hong was battling to land a large salmon this helicopter hovered above us for a bit. It was a pretty big salmon, I’d say yes it was newsworthy. I hope my hair looked ok in the shoot.

salmon season news helicopter

Some friends joined us for a few nights. I reluctantly admit we did steal some of their sausages, baked beans and Easter eggs to supplement our diet. Some other noteworthy events include assisting a four wheel drive recovery for some dude who thought it was a good idea to do a u-turn into the water, a trip to Augusta for beer and lunch at the pub on Easter Sunday and an Easter egg hunt around our camp site.

Simple food was fun. Easy to pack, no lengthy food prep, no washing up. Plus it’s super cheap. Next year I think we need to toughen up and eat a bit more salmon!

heat trap for night fishing belvidere beach

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Leschenault Penisular Beach Camp

Ol’ mate hongo, of BFC fame, joined me for a quick camp down at Leschenault Peninsular on Belvidere Beach. Having hit up spots north of Perth so many times over the years, we thought we’d try somewhere we haven’t been before. It’s a great beach – deep, clean, hardly any weed and protected by the rocky groin that forms the Leschenault Inlet cut at the southern limit of the beach. There’s lots of small fish around – we caught some small herring and tailor but nothing worth writing home about. A few tailor were just legal size so we promptly cooked them in Hong’s fish smoker.

The area is renowned for dolphins and we saw a butt load of them around the joint. Some came so close to shore we thought they might beach themselves. Then we would have heroically rescued them. Unfortunately got no photos of the dolphins.

It was pretty cool at night so we constructed a sand shelter. It is a wind break and heat trap for comfortable night fishing. It was hard work escavating a few metric tonnes of sand by hand but was worth the effort. Thanks to Nathan for lending us the wood that his house used to be made of for firewood!

horrocks jetty


New Years Geraldton and Horrocks

For the new years break we headed to Geraldton and Horrocks north of Perth. New years itself we were in Horrocks relaxing at a friend’s beach shack which was great. It was blowing a gale most of the time so despite it being the middle of summer it was quite chilly. Sharni brought no warm clothes so can be seen sporting my favourite fishing beanie (which she hates). We took a drive out of Horrocks to the Bowes River mouth to check it out then on the way back tried looking for the aboriginal rock art at Willgully Caves. Couldn’t find anything apart from some extremely faint stick figures. Took us longer than expected whilst we scampered around the caves trying to find the art – we were hoping to get back to Horrocks to watch the New Years home made yacht race but we only caught the aftermath.

Back in Geraldton we hung out with Uncle Mick and the rest of Sharni’s family. Uncle Mick has a large property just out of town in Moonyoonooka. It was interesting checking out his property and looking at the animals and wrecked vehicles and tractors.

On the way home we took the standard photo of the Greenough leaning tree. Proof that it really does get windy up there.

Thanks to Tegan and Liz for letting us stay at their homes in Geraldton and Horrocks!



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