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Cape Jaffa crayfishing

Thursday, June 5, 2008
South Australia's Limestone Coast runs from Meningie to the state's second largest city, Mount Gambier. It is rugged, unspoilt and wild, and has spectacular caves. It is also an ever-growing wine region.

A three-and-a-half-hour drive from Adelaide along the coast takes you to Cape Jaffa. The thriving rock lobster fishing port has been active for more than 100 years. Everyone knows everyone and there is usual good-hearted banter between crews as they set their pots. During the peak of the season, which runs from October until the end of May, up to 30 fishing boats are moored at the jetty in Lacepede Bay.

The rock lobsters, or crayfish, are highly sought-after on international markets, but if you are there at the right time, you can buy one fresh from the ocean. The caravan park has a crayfish cooking facility so you can treat yourself to a succulent lunch on the spot.

Tourists often go out with the fisherman on a turn up basis. Just turn up at the jetty the day before and ask around. The crews enjoy having extra pairs of willing hands on board — they'll tell you what to wear (waterproof and warm is a good idea) and what time to turn up.

If you think you would enjoy the experience, here are a few bits of information which may help you make up your mind:

Locals say that Cottee's (and only Cottee's) red cordial is the thing to stop you feel queasy at sea. If you know you get seasick, take some appropriate tablets the night before. If you don't know and want to find out, lie in a dinghy on the water, and if you feel sick, you might just prefer to wait for the fisherman to come back in with their catch!

There is no toilet on board. Just a bucket and makeshift privacy.

Be prepared for some solid work. The boats go out early and usually stay out for five or six hours.

If you think that you can do it, here is what a day will hold.

Pots are laid out in the sea and those from the day before are found with the boat's GPS navigation. There will probably be around 50 and each one can have up to 60kg of crayfish. They are taken out of the pots, which are then re-baited and put back in the water for the following day.

Echo sounder vibrations let the fishermen know where there is a cluster or activity, and that's where they head to drop the pots in.

The quota system keeps the business and industry afloat and sustainable. Fishermen apply for a licence and a quota is set, ensuring there is no over fishing.


300km south of Adelaide.


It's all free — unless you want to purchase some of the catch!

Prices correct at June 5, 2008.

For further information

Kingston Visitors Centre
Littles BP Roadhouse
1 Princes Highway
Kingston 5275
Ph: (08) 8767 2404

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