Sweers Island – Gulf of Carpentaria

Sweers Island – Gulf of Carpentaria

Getting to Sweers Island is an adventure in itself. I flew on a commercial flight from Sydney to Brisbane, and then a small four seater charter flight to Sweers Island.

The adventure included refuelling stops at Chinchilla, Charleville, Longreach, Cloncurry and Burketown, all Australian outback towns, none of which I had visited. The Australian outback has to be seen from above, preferably in a small plane to attain any comprehension of its vastness. We only flew a distance of approximately 1738km, leaving Brisbane at around 7.30am, and arriving in Burketown at around 5.30pm. That very small part of the outback can only provide a fleeting taste of the emptiness of Australia.

Burketown was our final stop for the day. After bedding down the plane for the night, we went to Savannah Lodge in Burketown. What a lovely oasis it turned out to be. Relaxing on the verandah, surrounded by tropical vegetation, sipping a cold G & T, contemplating whether a dip in the pool would be pain or pleasure, I felt as if I had reached my Nirvana.

It is only a short flight from Burketown to Sweers Island. The salt mudflats, seen from above look like exquisite works of art.

Sweers Island, from above, looks like a little jewel.

Sweers Island Resort is a fishing lodge. For anyone who loves fishing, it is a little paradise. Maybe at this point I should wash my mouth out, but Sweers Island has so much more to offer than fantastic fishing.

Sweers Island is traditionally owned by the Kaiadilt people. One of the middens on Sweers Island contains shells dating back 5000 years. There are also aboriginal fish traps, although more fish traps are visible on nearby Bentinck Island, dating back 2000 years.

The birdlife around the island is rich and varied. A bird list, compiled by Lyn Battle, one of the owners of the resort, lists 114 species which have been seen on the island. I loved watching the Brolgas, daintily stepping out on the beach, running through the bush and flying. The Bustards were very entertaining, strutting around the resort as if they owned the place. Flocks of black cockatoos showed off the bright red splash under their wings. The wagtails flitted about. This one was right outside the window.

Willy Wagtail

The sunsets were spectacular. What better way to feel at peace with the world than to watch the sun go down in paradise, accompanied by a NZ Sauvignon Blanc.

A toast to the end of a splendid day.

We set off late one afternoon to walk along the beach to the red cliffs, to watch them turn red as the sinking sun hit them. In order to totally appreciate the spectacle, we had gin and tonic to toast the going down of the sun. Glasses. Who needs them – especially when you have forgotten them. A bit of deft juggling with water and tonic bottles provided an alternative to a glass.

I learned a lot about the aboriginal and European history of Sweers Island from Tex Battle, who owns and operates the Resort with Lyn. Middens and fish traps well predate European “discovery”. Early explorers visited, the name of Flinders ship, the Investigator was carved into a tree, known as the Investigator tree (what was left of the tree was sent to Brisbane), initials of William Landsborough, who was searching for Burke and Wills, and date of 1866 are carved on the walls of a cave, there are wells, an old lime kiln and old graves.

Sweers Island is a little bit of paradise in the gulf of Carpentaria. For those who love to fish, it is a perfect place to be. The Resort provides boats, and much more for fisher persons. For a non fisher person, there are beaches to explore, an enchanted forest to picnic in, birdwatching and lots of historical sites to visit.

To see what Sweers Island Resort has to offer, visit their website https://www.sweers.com