WATERFRONT caravan parks have always held a special attraction for anglers, simply because fishing is as easy as pulling out a chair and then throwing out a line from a favoured position on the bank.
The Military Jetty Caravan Park at Golden Beach just south of Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast is ideal for just this easy, laid back, sort of fishing.
To get to this rather unique caravan park and camping ground, start by taking the turn-off to Caloundra off the Bruce Highway, around an hour north of Brisbane’s outskirts. Then, just before you enter Caloundra proper, you’ll see a sign on the right showing the way to Golden Beach. Once you’ve spotted this, keep on the main road south, Landsborough Parade, until you see Raleigh Street on your left. From there, as you drive along The Esplanade, you’ll soon see the Military Jetty and the caravan park opposite.
The caravan park isn’t large, but it doesn’t need to be to make it an ideal camping destination. It is located right on the water, with only the esplanade between the park’s entrance and the main channel leading up to the major Caloundra waterways or the Pumicestone Passage stretching south.
The Military Jetty Caravan Park (ph. (07) 5492 1288) is well established, having been there for years, and it has an appealing character that’s all its own. It’s a friendly establishment, with people smiling at me as I walked around with the camera. “Can I help you mate?” was the cheerful question many people asked me.
The sites here are well grassed and there’s a fair bit of shade available, and while there’s not hectares of room for tents, there’s enough. On the plus side are the hire vans, en suite vans, and cabins, all available at quite modest rates. A bonus is that pets are allowed, provided dogs are kept on a leash and that the dog’s owner cleans up any mess.
There is a small store attached to the park office and it’s open seven days per week. The shop has basic food items, drinks, some other groceries, bait, ice and tackle, and the staff can re-fill gas bottles.
Within 50m of the park’s entrance is Silver Bream Boat Hire, where you can get takeaway tucker, both hot and cold. The fleet of alloy hire boats are powered by 6hp outboards so you don’t need to have a boat license to hire one. More bait and tackle is available here as well.
Two quite prominent boat ramps are located almost next to the jetty. With the launching ramps so easy to access, and the hire boat office so conveniently located, there’s no need for anglers to own their own boat to enjoy a stay at the caravan park – and this is a very large bonus in my view. So often I hear the lament, “The fishing was great but I didn’t have a have a boat to really enjoy it”. Well, this certainly won’t be the case when you stay at the Military Jetty Caravan Park, because inexpensive boat hire is right at hand.
Fishing from the shore is, of course, a viable option. That little jetty is renowned as a spot to make great catches of both bream and luderick during winter, and you could hardly hope for a better place to fish. It’s quite sheltered from the worst of the westerly winds while still having plenty of available fishing room. The area is subject to a fair bit of tidal run so the idea is to make the use of the quieter current flow at or near the tidal peaks or during the last of the ebb.
Luderick, of course, like to hang around the pylons of the jetty, so if you’re using weed or ‘cabbage’ bait you should keep the float as close to the uprights as possible. Another very viable option is to fish for these rather shy fellows at night using yabbies, which can be pumped nearby. Once you have your yabbies, slip one onto a long-shanked whiting hook and set it up with just a tiny splitshot to allow tension to be kept on the line. Again, target the luderick around the pylons. The bite, such as it is, is merely a tiny ‘drawing’ sensation. The idea is to allow the fish to suck the yabby right into his mouth and then feel for his weight. From then on it’s up you as to whether the luderick stays on the line or wraps it around a pylon. Some really good quality bream are caught with this technique as well.
Another species worth targeting from the jetty, particularly at night, is tailor. The best tailor bait going is pike, and these can be taken from around the jetty by using a strip of squid or a bait jig. You can present the pike either as a live offering or with a four gang of hooks set up on dead fish. You simply cast the bait out and allow it to it swing in the current, or very slowly retrieve it, until a tailor takes an interest in it.
While some flathead are likely to turn up it will probably be the bream that make up the most of your catches. The main channels leading out to the bar at Caloundra can fish very well for bream, particularly as the full moon approaches.
All in all, the Military Jetty Caravan Park makes a great little home away from home and an excellent base. And if you get tired of fishing there, there’s a host of tourist attractions in the area. At the Caravan Park you’ll find pamphlets outlining the attractions in the area.
1) You can’t miss the building housing the office and store attached to Military Jetty Caravan Park on The Esplanade.
2) A view of The Esplanade at Golden Beach showing the handy picnic and shelter sheds, plus the boat ramps a little farther along.
3) A look at the Military Jetty showing the war memorial plus the cleaning table next to the jetty.