Having conquered the Kimberley by sea, it was time to take to the skies again. We head down to Kununurra and meet up with the guys from HeliSpirit. They specialise in scenic flights and heli-fishing, which involves spotting the best fishing grounds, lobbing right next to them and flicking in your lure.
Millie is all fished-out after a week aboard Cannon, but the idea of exploring the gorges and waterfalls from the air is enough to get her off the hotel bed and into the sky. Nick our pilot fires up the gleaming Robinson 44 and moments later we’re soaring towards a secret river. Slotting into a narrow chasm between two red rock cliffs, he lowers the bird onto a convenient rock platform. It’s the prettiest gorge we’ve ever seen – even prettier than the Instagram photos we’d salivated over on tourism feeds.
Abandoning the joystick, Nick assembles a couple of three-piece rods rigged with choice lures. A couple of throws with the casting net later and we’re stocked with live-bait. Nick sure has the moves and Millie is looking way too impressed with his handiwork. It’s time for me to snag another barra, I reckon.
We notch up a few mangrove jack while soaking up the serenity. After an hour or so, Nick calls it barra o’clock. We clamber aboard the chopper and fly over more rivers and pools with Nick peering out the window searching for metre barra. He spots a few, but finding somewhere to land is a challenge until he settles on a narrow flood plain west of the Cambridge Gulf. Every cast is a hook-up and there seems an endless supply of willing barra under the lily pads. Millie racks up the numbers, while Nick goes with quality, donging an 85cm donkey. It nails a baby Roosta popper right at his feet!
Before heading back, Nick has a treat in store. He’d tucked away a cool bag with a six-pack of icy Matso’s beer and we slurp happily. Nick detours over the Cockburn Ranges – yes, unfortunate name – swooping and buzzing through a maze of sheer cliffs that peer down into countless beautiful gorges. The cliff sides are stained black and Nick explains that in the wet season, the entire range is pretty much a huge waterfall.
This place really is the Wild West. Unless you’re partial to millipedes in your underpants, we reckon flying is the go. The bird’s-eye view showcases the rugged beauty of this remote landscape. We shudder, remembering that in a few days time we’ll be out there, all alone in our 4X4.