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Above: that’s a happy face, if ever I’ve seen one. Leanne with her Australian Spotted Mackerel

THURSDAY 9 JUNE. Crump, crump, boom. Boom, cruuuuuump!! Island Head Creek is a remote wilderness estuary about 120 miles north of Gladstone. It is part of the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area, a vast playground for our soldiers and those of other countries. A live firing exercise is currently underway just on the other side of the high ridgeline to our west. Crump, crump, crump, boom. Another series of explosions shakes the air. Let’s hope they are good shots. Fortunately budget constraints limits the number of shells they fire to about ten per day so the peace and quiet is barely disturbed.


Today is the first windy day we’ve had at anchor, since leaving Gladstone 16 days ago. Quite remarkable. We’re expecting 20-25 knots this afternoon, so it will get too rough to risk using the dinghy. The up side is this gives us the first opportunity we’ve had to start work on Masala’s inaugural Epistle for 2011.


Early this morning, before it got too windy, we took the dinghy across to our favourite fishing spot in the estuary, just opposite where we are anchored. Dial-a-Fish, we call the headland. Which species would you like to eat today? We troll from the dinghy using a hand line with a middle-sized Wonder Wobbler lure. Leanne does the fishing, I’m just the boat driver.


After throwing back two flathead that were too small, Leanne was onto something heavy. We landed a nice Estuary Cod, commonly known as a “Greasy”, the first Cod we have ever caught. I found out the meaning behind its name when trying to fillet it – it kept shooting out of my grip and threatening to scoot overboard.

Shortly after the Cod, Leanne hooked something big enough to take skin off her fingers as she tried to haul it in. After a struggle we had a fabulous Australian Spotted Mackerel well over half a metre long, thrashing around in the bottom of the dinghy. These powerful predators are great eating, best cut through the backbone into meaty steaks. Enough for three meals, by the look of it.

The Cod we had fried in a coating of flour and lemon-pepper seasoning, with a salad, for lunch. Its flesh is