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Alex's Column 12/01/2023

Those great early rains have certainly left a legacy of floodwater across much of the Top End.

Old mate Andy Ralph always has his fingers on the pulse when it comes to what’s happening out Kakadu way.

“With good early rains filling the Alligator Rivers catchment, I recently drove Kakadu from top to bottom to check out water levels and it’s all good news: all the rivers and creeks are fairly pumping,” Andy said.

“While East Alligator River has been flooded at Cahill’s Crossing since December, it’s only now that the major tributaries of the mighty South Alligator have really got going during the last monsoonal burst and sending lots of floodwater downstream.

“Jim Jim Creek is flowing hard and, at Nourlangie bridges on the Kakadu Highway, the water is just under the road, a sign that it will soon start roaring out the mouth of Nourlangie Creek outflow a few kilometres upstream of the South Alligator boat ramp,” Andy told me.

“Speaking of the boat ramp, all the mud that has been sitting under the bridge this dry season is now moving downstream and starting to settle out the front of the ramp.

“Regular fishos will recall some huge mud-bars restricting access in recent years, and it looks like low tide could be a problem launching boats until the floodwater moves the mud down a bit further.

“While fishing the South Alligator is understandably patchy, now is the time to hit the numerous creeks and culverts that dominate Kakadu’s landscape at this time of year.

“Magela Creek crossing on Oenpelli Road is sitting around a metre and is looking good for barra, as is the South Alligator culvert just before the river on the Arnhem Highway.

“But beware of crocodiles… big salties are also hanging around to catch a fish, so stay Crocwise and stand well back from the water,” Andy advised.

Well-known Darwin angler, Wally Drescher, went to Shady Camp with his son Matthew last Friday.

“There was no one there when we got there about four in the morning,” Wally said.

“I thought Geezus, they know something we don’t.

“Eventually there were about 10 boats on the water that day.

“It was sad to see a big fish kill had happened: there were barra hanging from trees and on the mud all the way down to within 10km of the mouth, and the river stank,” Wally explained.

“There were at least eight barra over a metre, and a huge one bigger than 120cm.

“I was talking to some blokes who were at Shady barrage when the water was coming up.

“They reckoned fish were coming over the fresh side, swimming between their legs and everything.

“The fish were getting out of the toxic black water on the fresh side, and they were helping 80s and 90s over the wall to the salt side,” Wally told me.

“My advice is to not go out for a couple of weeks… don’t go tearing the road up.”


This huge barra was one of many that were part of the recent fish kill at Shady Camp.


Matthew Drescher fished with his dad Wally and they had to go right downriver below the black water before they could catch barra.


Magela Creek on the Oenpelli Road is doing its bit to ensure good Runoff fishing ahead.


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