Cooinda Lodge should be a bucket list stop-off for southern travellers heading north into Kakadu via the Stuart Highway.
The waterway was narrow and flanked on one side by lotus lilies, on the other by paperbarks, Arnhem bamboo, pandanus and mangroves, all of which backed onto a vast, verdant wetland. This was Yellow Water Billabong in Kakadu National Park. We were working small, small paddle tail plastics; casting the lures into snags, waiting for them to sink and then retrieving them slowly. Every now and again barra, sometimes two or three at a time, would dart out from the snag cover and follow our lures to the boat.
On what turned out to be the last cast of the day, my companion Adam Firth’s lure was taken near the surface by a saratoga. In a millisecond, his braid was turned to knitting amid the twisted, decaying grey branches of an old paperbark. The lure retriever came out at about the same time as a crusty old croc, about the same length as our boat, surfaced within a rod length. The croc barely moved; it was almost stationary against the current flow as it watched us with its dark yellow eyes.
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