Sailing,  Travels

Catch n’ Cook At Island Head Creek | One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish, MORE!

Casting away from the dock at Rosslyn Bay knowing it was just the two of us for a while was such a mix of emotions. The voyage north continues. Just us and our little home for the first time since Pittwater. It was a sad goodbye to Bad Mickey and Trishie the Menace who had jobs and land duties to attend to. Don’t think it will be too long until they are back for another adventure though!

Boy o boy does the boat feel MASSIVE now.

After having 4 people living on board for a month we don’t know what to do with all the space!

So off we went. Our first sail as a crew of two was actually really good! Besides a bit of beam-on swell, we cruised along, Rei, the newly named autopilot (in honour of our first crew member) even steered most of the way. Happy days! We were actually aiming for the Percy Isles which was going to be an overnight sail. With a bit of current pushing us up the coast and making such good time we decided to pull into Port Clinton around 8.30pm. For some reason anchoring in complete darkness seemed like a better option than an overnight sail. Don’t know if I would do that again… Or maybe at least wait for a bit of a moon to try it….

Actually no… Never again.

It was blowing a gale when we were at Port Clinton so tea and biscuits was the most exciting activity on the agenda. This wasn’t where we were planning on hanging out though. If we were staying around the area for a bit, Island Head Creek was meant to be where it’s at!

The crazy thing is there is really not much info about Island Head Creek out there online. It is in the middle of military training grounds so land activities are a bit limited but if you want to get the best out of the place read on! We ended up spending longer than intended while waiting for wind and we found out it is a pretty amazing place.

The one thing we had heard of was the fishing. It was meant to be off the charts so Nathan was quivering with excitement as we set off that first day.

Thus begins the tale of man-fire-food.

The first couple of nights we anchored a fair way up the creek near a little mangrove island. First fish off the bat were a couple of trevally and an orange spotted cod.

There may not be any fire involved in this particular catch and cook so instead of man-fire-food let’s go with woman-gas stove-deliciousness!

FEED #1:

Panko Crumbed Cod, Soy and Ginger Trevally, Salad with MMM Dressing and Rosemary Chippies

COD: dredge in flour, milk, crumb in panko then fry until golden.

TREVALLY: simply marinate small pieces in soy sauce and ginger for about 10-15 mins then fry. 

If you want to make your salads AH-mazing try my MMM dressing! 

1 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tsp mustard, 1/2 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, good squeeze of lime, salt and pepper.

After being invaded with sandflies and whatever other weird and wonderful mangrove critters found their way onboard, we picked up the anchor. We soon found our new spot for what ended up being the next week. Days were spent on fishing adventures, beach walks and exploring the little bays of mangroves. Some boats would pass through for the night but for the most part we had the entire creek to ourselves.

Ohhhh! And there were turtles EVERYWHERE!

On this particular fishing expedition, Nathan’s lure barely had time to hit the water before something SMASHED it. We knew it was a big fish and we were hilariously underprepared in our inflatable dinghy. Nevertheless, after a pretty good fight he managed to get the Giant Queenfish into the boat even after it broke our landing net.

I’ve got the man, he caught the food…. so now comes the fire!

Just in time for lunch too. Fresh fish, fire on the beach, no one else around… what more do you want???


Giant Queenfish Steaks on the Fire

Rub queenfish steaks in garlic & parsley butter then grill over open flames.

Obviously the fish was HUGE so there was plenty left for dinner as well. We went to explore the southern side of the river mouth in the afternoon in search of oysters. Honestly the scenery here is just awesome. Jagged rock formations, pine trees, untouched sandy beaches.

Just wow.

Fish caught. Check. Oysters picked. Check. Two hungry sailors. Check.


Crispy Panko Oysters and Soy Char Sui Queenfish in Rice Paper Rolls

**Public Service Announcement**

If you haven’t introduced Char Sui sauce into your life, you are missing out on one of the most wonderful things in the world of food. Grab it from the Asian section in the supermarket and watch your life change before your eyes.

OYSTERS: Pick and clean fresh oysters, dip in panko crumbs then fry. Enjoy with salt, pepper and lime.

QUEENFISH: Marinate in soy, ginger and garlic. Fry until mostly cooked. Coat in Char Sui sauce and continue to fry until fully cooked and perfectly sticky on the outside. Roll into rice paper rolls with whatever fresh veggies you have. For us, avo, coriander and red cabbage are a must.

In amongst the fishing trips we had found a little mangrove creek to leave our crab pot. All it took was a night and we returned to find the mud crab that looked like he had eaten all the other mud crabs.

He was a dinosaur!

We quickly stopped at a very “crocodilely” looking beach to get him out of the pot and Nathan duelled the beast into a bucket. And guess what?? It was almost lunch time! Ohhhhh yeahhh.


Mud Crab Sandwiches

Catch yourself a ginormous mud crab. Clean segments. Cook in boiling sea water for 15 minutes (thanks Trishie for the cooking advice!).

Make yourself a killer sandwich with fresh lettuce, mayo, salt and pepper and lime juice.

We explored Island Head Island at the mouth of the creek. Stunning island with water the most gorgeous blue. It is easy to forget you are at a river mouth. I think this island was my favourite part. Of course there was more fish to be had. I can’t believe we weren’t sick of it yet! A couple of trevally fed us for lunch. Happy days! 


Nandos Marinade Fish on the Fire

Mix up paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, chill flakes, salt and pepper in olive oil. Rub over fresh fish pieces. Wrap in afloil and cook on coals for 10-15 minutes.

This was such an easy mix to have with you, when you aren’t quite sure what you are going to catch.

On our last day we ventured to the eastern facing beach on the northern side of the river mouth.

Gosh this place just gets better and better.

Dunes for days that make it look like a dessert, crystal clear water lapping the shore and no other footprints except for two scallywags walking around like they live here. We had definitely made ourselves at home around this place. A surprise doggy mackerel caught off the beach was a pretty good end to our stay here. and of course, there was one more fire.

We actually fed ourselves 2 meals a day with local catches for most of our stay here. These were just the highlights of a week filled with wayyyy too much good food and little bit of wilderness on the Queensland coast. Island Head Creek, you are just awesome.

Until next time.



  • Nev Lane

    Hi Nat and Kate, enjoy seeing your adventures along the coast. Nat didn’t happen to hook onto a rod and reel hey, I lost one at the mouth of Island Head a few years ago…….she might be a bit rusty by now.
    Safe travels and I look forward to seeing your next adventure.
    Regards Nev.

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