Well, it was fun and games a couple of weeks ago when I took two good friends of mine to a remote lagoon on a Kakadu floodplain.
Melanie Ottaway and Sian Cassidy were up visiting from Noosa on their annual fishing pilgrimage to the NT.
They’re both a lot of fun and Mel fishes in my Barra Nationals team every year.
They are keen fishos for sure, regularly competing in fishing competitions on the Sunshine Coast.
After attending the Million Dollar Fish launch the evening of their arrival, followed by a dinner in town and the obligatory imbibing of a few drinks around the pool back at home, there was no rush to depart the following morning.
These girls like to fish but they avoid burning the candle at both ends: early start means early to bed the night before; late night means a sleep-in the following morning.
Packed and loaded, we departed a bit before noon, heading off for three days, and staying at my favourite Jabiru accommodation: Aurora Kakadu Lodge where we had two cabins booked.
We made it to the turn-off in good time, but immediately we were confronted with a bumpy, rolling bush track, strewn with corrugations and potholes, some of which weren’t immediately evident through the thick, powdery bulldust.
Three times we climbed down steeply into dry river beds, and then out the other side, the bottom of my boat trailer literally grading the top edge of the inclines.
It was a hell of a drive in and, as the three of us discussed, I needed to be constantly aware that my Landcruiser Sahara took this sort of challenge in its stride, cushioning everything that wretched track threw at it.
But it was a different story with the boat and trailer in tow: no dampening shock absorbers there; just leaf springs… so for much of the journey, we basically crawled our way in.
Finally, after nearly two hours, we pulled up alongside the hidden lagoon.
I jumped out first, keen to go to the water’s edge and check it out.
It had been more than a decade since I’d been here, and I marvelled at its pristine, natural beauty; after the bulldust and corrugations, the vibrant green and yellow colours of the water and the bankside vegetation of this magical Top End billabong were simply breathtaking.
However, what really took my breath away was when I turned and walked back to the car and boat.
I cursed out loudly as I looked at the shredded remnants of one of the four trailer tyres.
Normally, it would have been a simple exercise changing the tyre as I carried a 2.5 tonne hydraulic scissor jack that you can sneak in under anything.
The girls assisted capably as we jacked up and removed the tattered tyre and its seriously-broken rim.
However, it all went south when we tried to get the spare on and realised the trailer brake chamber had cracked and distorted, jamming against the brake disc.
The upshot was that the tyre would not go on the studs anywhere evenly.
The only answer was to remove the cast-iron chamber from behind the tyre completely.
I won’t go on in any detail, other than to say that, three painful hours later, the brake was off and the spare was on.
There was no time to waste as we had hardly an hour before we had to drive out again and make it to the highway before dark.
In went the boat and we began trolling.
It turned out there is a god after all: we trolled 50m and Sian’s Reidy’s Little Lucifer was smashed by a thrashing 70cm barra.
We landed that, took some pics and quick video, and turned round to troll back over the spot.
Bang! A spectacular 92cm barra latched onto Mel’s blue Little Lucifer.
It too was duly landed and celebrated.
And so it went on before we just had to get out of there.
Thankfully, we made it to the highway as the last vestige of light disappeared, and thankfully the trailer had behaved.
Melanie Ottaway with her spectacular 92cm billabong barra.
Sian Cassidy’s beautiful barra from the ‘bong came on the first troll with a blue Reidy’s Little Lucifer.