We had planned this fishing and camping trip for a couple of weeks and the original plan had been to motor up the Bribie Passage on the Friday afternoon and possibly get an evening fish in and then get out at dawn the next morning. I had worked from home on the Friday with the plan of getting away around 3 to 4 pm giving us time to get to the camp site and set up camp before dark. The boat and the truck were fully packed and ready to go and then the weather had a different idea. The clouds came over, the wind got up and right on the point of leaving the house the lightning flashed, thunder boomed and we took cover in the shed.
We sat forlornly in our shed, with the fully packed boat still inside and watched the rain bucket down and felt quite depressed about our plans. We watched for twenty minutes and then decided we were not going anywhere tonight, it would be too dangerous to put the boat in. We unpacked the esky with the beer in it and headed back to the house to get wet inside as well as out. Perhaps tomorrow would bring a better day.
We went to bed thinking that we would not get our fishing weekend after all and I was quite depressed about it. We should not have worried, as it often does in Southern Queensland, the day dawned beautiful and we were up before it, quickly repacking the few things we had unpacked from our camping kit.
We were putting the boat in off the ramp at the marina just as the day was beginning, the time was magic. We loaded the boat with the remaining things in the four-wheel drive before heading out the marina and setting course for North in the passage. It all sounds very grand, we had never had so much gear in the boat and the poor old thing did not make very good time at all, but at least the water was calm and so the trip was noisy but pleasant.
Al is not the best of sailors and she really appreciates it when the weather gods put on special days like this, it gives her a chance to enjoy the magic of the surrounds in the passage. On the way to our destination we passed the National Park campsite of Poverty Creek. We had been up here a few weeks early and I had called in to show Al what it was like and to see if we wanted to use it in preference to the Mission Point camp site.
As we had slowly moved into the beach at Poverty Creek, we saw a Dingo nosing around on the grass flat by the beach. The Dingo was up in a narrow piece of the grass and not far from the cover of the bush. When the boat approached the beach, the Dingo decided it was better to watch than be watched and quickly slipped into the bush and disappeared from sight. We remembered this as a warning to us and we would ensure we remained Dingo smart at our destination camp of Mission Point.
We arrived at Mission Point camp about 15 minutes later, and found ourselves a campsite. We were very early and there were only a few other people there, including a boat that had arrived at the same time as us. We found a campsite south of the amenities block and a good distance from any of the other campers. Now it was time to unload and set up tent.
After getting in the way setting up the tent, I went to get the self-registration form from the self-registration kiosk along the beach. There was another group of people who arrived at the same time as us with their family setting up camp not far from the facilities block. Sitting on the small beach in front of a single man tent was a man in his early thirties. He had a frying pan in his hand and some nice looking small fillets of fish, which had been freshly fried, with a coating of flour.
I recognized these small fillets to be those of Whiting, a small but very edible fish that can be caught around the beaches in Bribie Island and in the passage.
“G’ Day” I greeted him. “Hows the fishing” This is the probing question all fisherman ask other fisherman when they are looking to find a snippet of information the best place to fish. We never really expect to get a definitive answer but if we are lucky it provokes a discussion where the fisherman asked will give away enough information to help the fisherman asking a hint to the location of that elusive fishing spot we never find.
“Right Here” he responded freely pointing at the water not more than three meters away. “If you just drift down the channel right in front of the camp grounds there is plenty of Whiting just off the shelf, I used yabbies as bait and caught a good feed” His accent told me he was a fellow traveller from New Zealand, this may have been why he was so free in his information.
“Great thanks” I replied trying not to show any sign of excitement over this revelation that had taken me completely by surprise.
“Nothing like fresh fish for breakfast” he enthused “As he scoffed down the fish fillets directly from the pan they had been fried in.
“Yeh, you’re right. Thanks I’ll see you later” I said as I went back to the camp with the registration paper in hand and a piece of fishing intelligence that was gold firmly in my mind.
Al was well underway into getting the tent sight set up as our home away from home. I told her about the fishing tip I had had from the fellow fisherman down the way and we filed that for future reference.
Seeing that guy eating fresh fish made me hungry and so I set up the stove and cooked a feed of pancakes for breakfast. We both imagined having fresh fish instead and then dismissed it as a flight of fancy. The pancakes were good anyway and set us up for the day.
We spent the day around the campsite enjoying the wonderful scenery, and took the boat a little further up the passage to anchored near a mangrove island. We stopped here to fish on the premise that I had caught fish here once before and therefore there must be plenty more. Well that was another time I was wrong I must have fished it out last time. I did catch a huge mud crab that gave up on the bait when it broke the waters surface. Lots of mosquitos caught us and we decided that after an hour or so this was not as much fun as sitting on the beach having a cold beer. I reasoned that there was not much ice in the esky so if we were to have ‘em cold we might as well get in now.
About a year previously Al had purchased a thing called a bait pump. This is a long stainless steel tube with a rod and plunger in it. The pump is about 600 CM long and about 50 cm wide. We had attempted to use it before but we were not really clear on what we were looking for in the mud or even where to start.
After a couple of beers and some sun we decided that we would try and use our bait pump for real. I had brought with us some frozen bait which I had dumped after the mid day fishing time. We needed some more bait if we were to do any more fishing.
Al and I spent a couple of hours on the mud flats of the receding tide, her pumping and me picking up the spoils that came out of the tube. The predominant catch was very a small pink crayfish looking creatures about 2cm long. After a couple of hours we got good at bait catching and we had a bucket with about fifty or so in. These must have been the Yabbies that my Kiwi fisherman friend was talking about. We also caught some solider crabs and a beach worm. The beach worms are very long worms of about 300 to 400 cm long and quite treasured as live bait.
I was now excited about fishing again, it doesn’t take much to get me excited about fishing. It was clearly going to be time for a dusk fish; this would be a dusk fish I would not be forgetting for a long time.
The tide was well out by about 4 O’clock and the beach in front of the campgrounds had lengthened to reveal a section of mud and then a section of rough volcanic rock before the beach fell off into a deep channel. I asked Al if she wanted to fish and she preferred to sit on the beach with a cold beer and a book and watch. Catching the bait had been very rewarding and she did not want to spoil the aura of that.
I loaded in my fishing rods and the freshly caught yabbies and pushed the boat to the edge of the water. I was full of anticipation for the evening fish, and had a secret desire to provide the evening meal from my endeavours. The afternoon was beautiful, the sky was clear and the air a warm 26 degrees.
I put my left foot in the boat from the transom end, and scooted the boat forward with my right foot. It moved a little in to the passage but not far enough to float freely. I gave it another big push, it moved a few inches further, it was still not floating. I looked up to see a couple sitting about 50 yards away in their boat drifting along the passage I intended to fish. They were causally taking an interest in me launching into the deep water to join them fishing.
I scooted the boat with a strong push from my right foot, suddenly the boat dislodged from the rock bottom that had been preventing it sliding into the deeper water. It propelled forward, as my right foot slipped into a deep crevice of rock. I was stuck, my left foot in the boat and my right foot stuck in a hole providing a more than adequate anchor. The boat was continuing to travel out, and my expertise on the athletic pass time of doing the splits was being tested to the maximum.
I glanced at the couple that were fishing, and of course they were now paying a significant interest in my attempts to launch the boat. I was glad that my unfortunate circumstances were amusing some one.
I mumbled the only thing I could under the circumstances “Bugger”.
I had the naive thought that I might be able to get out of this spot of temporary embarrassment without really being notice if I exerted an extraordinary pull on my right leg to pull it free. As I did the pain became equally as extraordinary, and by this time the boat had finished it’s outward travel into the waters of Bribie Passage. Having decided that there was no way in splitting me in two the boat came back as quickly as it had gone out and ran over me.
Now lets have a quick review here. I had my left foot over the transom of the boat, I had my right foot stuck in some kind of rock hole and the actual boat was over my head in about 18 inches of water. I do not panic often, but I felt this might be an appropriate time to give this form of emotion a try.
I am not sure how I did it, I think the panic helped, but I gave a big heave with my left leg and managed to remove it from the boat, I then scrambled clear of the rock hole, the boat headed out into the passage with me hanging on the back. I am now hanging off the back of the boat, the rock ledge has disappeared and who knows how deep the water is below me, but my feet were not touching the bottom.
I finally dragged my self up over the transom and flopped on the floor of the boat. I was sopping wet; the pain in my foot was coming in huge waves and at each one I was expecting to pass out.
I raised my head and looked around, the couple that were fishing close by, were still fishing. and Al was sitting on the beach with a beer and a book. The sun was shinning and apart from my shock, the world looked as peaceful as it did when my ordeal started.
I dragged myself onto the seat, started the motor and headed out to a suitable spot to start drift fishing. After having taken all this effort in getting into the boat, I might as well not waste it. Anyway nobody may have noticed my antics.
I fished for another hour, my foot was killing me, and I caught two fish. Neither was worth keeping and so they were returned to the bastard ocean.
When I got back in the conversation went something like this.
“Nothing worth having. I had a bit of bother putting pushing the boat off”
“Yeah I noticed”
“I thought you might have helped”
“Didn’t want to make too much fuss, I might have embarrassed you”
Oh well, it was steak for dinner and perhaps we would have some success in the morning.
On dusk and early evening the mosquitoes reached plague proportions and with an extremely painful foot that was now blowing up like a puffer fish, I do confess to retreating to the tent for a while.
Sleep was difficult that night, my foot was painful and a group of young lads had set up camp about 20 yards north of us. They spent the night drinking and going in and out with the boat fishing.
As it grew light Al suggested we push the boat out for an early morning fish. The dawn was just beautiful and no matter how many times you hear that it is the best part of the day, it still is.
We pushed the boat in on the low tide and headed a few yards off shore to drift up the passage with the tide just returning. Our yabbies from the night before seemed to have survived all right and it was time to give them an early morning swim.
We started to get bites early and within the hour we were motoring back in to have fresh for breakfast. It has been a long time since I have had to process a fish for eating, we usually put them back after capture. Breakfast was wonderful and we made it last as long as we could.
With my foot in a state of disrepair we did very little during the rest of the day except sit in the sun and occasionally drift out for another fish. We never had the same sort of success as we had at dawn.
As Sunday moved on we watched people packing up camp and leaving. On Saturday there had been a large square looking catamaran arrive with about seven or eight tin boats of a similar size to us either being towed by it or travelling along side. The occupants of this had set up a bit camp about 150 meters to the North of us. These guys took the longest to leave. The place fell quite but for a large 40-foot motorized pleasure craft that turned up late in the day to anchor and have the evening meal.
We slept another night and got up first thing on the Monday to pack up and leave. My foot was extremely painful but I was learning to live with it.
After a day at work, I went to bed on Tuesday night and woke up with a very sore foot. It was so sore I could not stand to have the bedding on. At around 3 am I could not stand the pain any more and I got Al to take me to Caboolture hospital.
“You have Gout” said the doctor with the Purple Hair.
“Gout!” I replied in disbelief
“Yep Gout” He repeated.
“I Can’t have Gout. I jammed my foot in a rock crevice and probably crushed it.”
“It is Gout” He repeated with insistence, I suppose any doctor with purple hair has trouble being taken seriously. “Gout can be triggered by a trauma, you have gout trigged by jamming you foot in a rock crevice.”
He gave me injections to reduce the swelling and extra strength pain killers to reduce the pain and wrote me a doctors note to have the next three days off. He also gave me another doctors note for my local doctor whom he advised me to see in the next day and if I was still worried about the foot being broken perhaps I could get it X-rayed.
Well I tried to get hold of my Doctor as soon as it was morning enough, only to find she was off sick and would be for two weeks. Good stuff. The people at the reception said they would try and get me in to one of the other doctors. Three days passed and they never managed that.
About a month later with the pain in the foot coming and going I went to my doctor who laughed when I told her I had gout and sent me off for an X-RAY. She was right the X-ray showed a broken toe, she told me not to do anything silly and take it easy with it.