If there is a trip I really look forward to every year, it is this one. Lads-only annual fishing, camping and four-wheel-driving down at Yeagarup Beach. Every ANZAC long weekend, we pack our rigs and get ready for four days of chasing salmon and adventuring on the south coast of W.A.
Yeagarup is famous for it’s sand dues. Just a little south of Pemberton, Yeagarup dunes are the largest land-locked shifting sand dunes in the southern hemisphere! What a mouthful.
This year Quentin rode with me, we loaded all his gear in to the FJ the night before. Friday morning our mate Todd rocks up in his Nissan Navara ready to convoy down. We meet Jaron in his Mitsubishi Pajero at the usual ‘truck stop’ meet point on the freeway. We make our way south from home on Forest highway until we hit Bunbury, then we head down South Western highway towards Pemberton. Last chance for supplies because there is nothing around camp and we are about 1hr of 4wd’ing away from anything (including a water supply). There may have been a sneaky pie and apple turnover stop before we left Pemby!
Not far out of Pemby, off Vasse Hwy is Ritter Road. If you ever want to see Yeagarup Dunes, just look for Ritter Road! A little while along Ritter Road and we arrive at Yeagarup Lake and the “Leaning Marri” camp ground which is run by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW). Make sure you pay your national park fees at the rangers station and air down your tyres. Airing down provides a comfy ride, makes the terrain easy to tackle, and also doesn’t chew out the tracks. There’s always a sign here advising on the appropriate tyre pressures required to get you safely through the dune system. Today the sign says 12PSI. It seems to say 12 every year! I air down to 12 and the BFG all-terrains “bag out” nicely.
We make our way through the trails, past Yeagarup Lake toward the entry to the dunes. There’s a queue this year to get in! There is almost never a queue. We have some discussions on the radio predicting how busy it’s going to be down on the beach this year. It seems to get busier every year as the word spreads of this awesome weekend. Soon enough it is time to tackle the first challenge, the first hill climb and the entry to Yeagarup dunes.
We very easily just crawl up the first dune, nice and slow, so far, 12psi in the tyres is feeling just right. Quentin and I wait at the top for Jaron and Todd, once everyone is to the top we convoy for about 45 minutes to hit the beach through the dunes and trails ahead. It is like being on a different planet! It is a slow moving trip this year due to the increased traffic. The guy in front of us looks like he’s actually moving house, is that a TV I see in his ute tray?
We land on the beach and immediately increase our efforts to move ahead of other vehicles (more speed) in an attempt to be the first to a camp site that I’ve been planning on checking out. It really is a game of chance when there are more and more campers and fishermen each year. We travel up the beach and find the turn off in to our camp, the tyre marks don’t look very fresh, promising! Up and over the sandy dune to the spot and it’s…. empty. Within seconds all the lads are out of their vehicles and amazed at the spot. Flat, grassy, protected from weather, perfect. So perfect that for the rest of the weekend we had random’s driving past and shouting out “mint camp spot” from their rigs. Aye, we know it.
We setup camp straight away before anything else happens, a good way to secure our spot. The Jet Tent Bunkers are setup, Snow Peak fire pit erected, now we can fish. We all crack a beer and head to back over the track to the beach for a flick. So much excitement but no fish. Not promising, usually we’re hitting salmon instantly on some poppers. We sit on the beach for the rest of the evening and watch the sun set. Hopefully the salmon are around tomorrow.
Back at camp for the evening, the fire pit is blazing, the beer is flowing, steaks are sizzling, and the spuds are baking in the coals. Not much later, we’re all in bed at a reasonable hour ready for the fishing action the next day.
Saturday morning. Not a whole lot of rushing to get up and out of camp! The fire pit is cranking, bacon and eggs are a go. Tummies full, time to hit the beach. We find a decent looking spot to fish and the lines go out, again not much going on. Next minute, BANG, I’m on, and it feels good. My catch leaps out of the ocean and shakes its head in an attempt to ‘throw the hooks’. The action sees my pulse climb significantly. Like last year, I’m running the 9ft lure flicker, 12lbs braid on the Stradic 5000 reel. By no means a heavy outfit, just right for flicking lures, but 20lbs is probably more suited to this kind of fishing. Beaching 6 or 7kg salmon is no easy task on 12lbs. I fight the fish for quite a while, walking up and down the beach slowly tiring the fish until it starts to give in. I wait for the right set (waves) and bring it in. Quentin runs in to the surf with sandy hands and gets a good grip on the beast, out it comes, first hook up and catch successfully beached!
Not long later, Todd hooks up his first Sammy.
and then Quentin!
and then Jaron!
Spirit amongst the lads is raised, but it turns out they will be the only salmon we catch all weekend! Many herring are caught throughout the day. Many beers were consumed throughout the day.
We head back to camp, have lunch, head back to the beach and chill out once again until sunset. A spectacular way to end the day, enjoying some beers on the beach and chatting with mates.
On Sunday we decided to pack up camp and head home, a big storm was rolling in later in the day. We head in to Pemberton for a coffee and snack before the drive home. I’m glad we left when we did, other blokes who stayed down on the beach for the next couple of days reported that the weather was terrible.by