In some parts of southern Australia, Coronavirus outbreaks resulted in lockdowns, business closures and severe restrictions on travel and outdoor activities such as fishing.
In the less-Covid-19-restricted Northern Territory, it was the opposite: outdoors businesses boomed as more locals replaced their annual Balinese sabbatical with fishing or shooting, or both.
Darwin-based Fishing and Outdoor World manager, Ronald Voukolos, said the Territory Government was
a “champion” in its response to the pandemic, but there were still ongoing challenges.
“People’s behaviour during the pandemic was good.
There are places we couldn’t fish like Arnhem Land,
Kakadu and the Daly River, but it wasn’t a great Wet in 2020 so, really, we didn’t miss much fishing. We missed the Runoff, then the government rejigged some of the rules and we got access to Darwin Harbour,
Shady Camp and Bynoe Harbour,” Ronald said.
In southern states, many businesses were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ronald said FOW was fortunate compared with businesses like cafes and restaurants, which were harder hit by the tourism downturn. Outdoors-related businesses were least affected by the Coronavirus in the Northern Territory.
Ronald said locals made up the difference in outdoor sales. Aboriginal communities were in
lockdown, but locals came out and connected with country: “We ended up supplying a lot of
tackle to stores in the Territory and this, along with the number of locals who took up fishing,
made up the difference in our sales,” he said. “As a result, our business flourished
in tackle and firearms sales. “In the case of firearms, people started stocking up because of US supply issues, something the media tried to sensationalise as people arming themselves.
Price rises were going to occur, so people stocked up, and many Aussies took on the outdoors. Even better was for anglers is that
the fishing this season improved.
“We’ve had a half decent Runoff this year and the
competitions have fished well for barra,” Ronald said.
“Shady Camp, the Daly, South Alligator and East
Alligator rivers are fishing well, while offshore the artificial reefs are also fishing well for jewfish and goldies, while
there are early signs the billfish season is looking good.”
Ronald said the piscatorial success of the FADs, located
at Lee Point, Dundee, and North and South Gutters,
ere great additions to bluewater fishing around Darwin.
“And Point Stuart boat ramp needs to be opened
as this will open new areas and is on the To Do list.”
Ronald described the Million Dollar Fish promotion
as “a great incentive,” one that keeps people fishing:
“Realistically, it is not the gun anglers nailing
fishing comps who are snagging the tagged barra, so it gives hope for everyone, including Joe Average
angler, to go out and hook a $10k or $1m fish.”
Opened in 1972 by Ronald’s father George,
Fishing and Outdoor World is situated on the
corner of Cavenagh and Knuckey Streets, Darwin.
In the store, everyone, or so it seems, has
knowledge of fishing or shooting, or both.
Most of the staff are family orientated, so they
know what will suit customers’ needs, whether
chasing barra, hunting geese or reloading.
And FOW has one of the most diverse ranges of
lures of any store in Australia. This is not surprising
given the store’s long long history of association with
some of Australia’s most innovative lure makers.
Yeti products remain a shining light in sales.
“Yeti is an expensive product but offers the
ultimate in performance,” Ron said. “The company
puts performance and quality ahead of price,
and this is reflected in sales. Yeti has gone from
strength to strength; we were the first store to
have Yeti, now everyone wants the product.”
FOW is a one-stop shop for shooters, anglers, andanyone with a bent toward outdoors pursuits. AndRonald explained, “We have to make sure we are
keeping up with new product because people are alwayslooking for new product that might give them an edge.And therein is perhaps the toughest issue: getting
product. In the uncertain world of import and
export, maintaining product is one of the ongoing
challenges Ronald mentioned earlier. Next year,
FOW will celebrate 50 years in business, and
ou can bet London to a Brick that FOW will
continue to trade regardless of cyclones, pandemics,
and an assortment of business competitors.