Australia is known for being full of strange, weird and wonderful animals. There are the cuddly ones – Koalas and Kangaroos and the like, which mostly just look sleepy and disinterested in their surroundings when you visit them in a zoo. There are the poisonous and deadly ones like pretty much every snake and spider in the country (that may be an exaggeration), and as far as I am concered, everything in the sea as well (possibly another exaggeration). And then there are the down right off ones. Like the platypus, and the beach worm. Wait… the what?
I bet you had never heard of the beach worm,
In fact, many of the Australians who also attended the Sundowner famil had never heard of these creatures either. Apparently though, there are no shortage of beach worms on the east coast of NSW and Queensland. I was unsettled to discover that thousands of these often two metre long worms are burrowing just under the sand at my favourite beaches this very moment.
It was only a short drive from Sydney to Sundowner Tiona Pacific Palms, a hidden gem of a caravan park with both lake side and beach side cabin and camping options. I had driven up the east coast of NSW on the Great Australian Overland Adventure, and yet I had never even heard of this place while doing my research.
The sun was beating down hard, summer was truely starting in Australia, and the atmosphere at Sundowner Tiona reminded me more of some of my time spent on the Pacific Island of Samoa, than it did of east coast NSW. We set up our fancy camping gear on the lake side of the property before heading over to the beach for lunch and a lesson in fishing. Coming from one of the most inland provinces of North America, I had never been fishing before. Luckily one of the Sundowner Tiona staff had come down to give us a lesson.
Lesson #1 – First you need some bait
The easy wait out of this one is to buy your bait, but the budget travel and adventure way is to catch your own! What would be a more natural and environmentally friendly solution to this problem than to use some of the thousands of beach worms which are just under neath our toes? But first we need to catch them.
Beach worms are scavengers, they clean up any of the dead biological matter that washes up on the beach. They have a keen sense of smell, and arn’t too put off by the vibrations of humans and other animals walking around on the beach. This makes them easy to lure with a little bit of dead fish. By dragging some dead fish along the shore, we enticed the beach worms to betray their hidden positions by raising their heads out of the sand. Once we had honed in on their location, all that was needed was a steady hand, some plastic pliers for added grip, and a great deal of skill to grab, wrestle, and pull the 1 – 2 metre long green worm from the sand. I say a great deal of skill, as Knoll from Sundowner was able to catch quite a few beach worms for our fishing excursion, while us city folk repeatedly failed miserably.
Even if you are not the most talented beach worm wrestler, you only really need one or two worms for your day of fishing. One beach worm will be sufficient for about 10 – 20 peices of bait, depending on it’s length.
Lesson 2 : Catching some fish
I’ve never been fishing before, but beach side fishing seems to be rather straight forward. Cast your line, stand around, wait, and try to feel if something bites at your line. Of course, this can be a little tricky since it is hard to tell what is a biting fish, and what is the current and surf pulling on your line.
In my case, it probably was a fish, as every time I pulled back my line the bait was missing, but there was no fish to replace it. I guess Australian fish are a little craftier than I originally gave them credit for.
Luckily for those of us with skills at neither catching beach worms or catching fish, there is a great little fish mongers and butchers in the town near Sundowner Tiona, so there is no need to go hungry.
The only thing I did catch that day was probably a bit of a tan, so all in all, the beach excursion was a complete success. Although I’m not sure if I am happier or not now that I know what lies beneath when I walk along the coast in Australia.
Our accomodation was provided by Sundowner Tiona, but all opinions remain our own