Fishing Barramundi in Darwin, Australia January 2014

Today is FUN … We are in Darwin and invited to one of the biggest Barramundi farms in Australia, HUMTPY DOO BARRAMUNDI.

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In the morning we jump into our car and are happily driving westwards as the farm is located half way between Darwin and Kakadu in a remote part of the Northern Territory right at the Adelaide river – we have 72 kms to drive , about 1 hour with the car.

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On our way to the farm we see lots of animals on our road – lizards, birds, kakadoos, kangaroos …. the sun is bright and we are in good mood.

Actually a Barramundi is an iconic Australian fish that can live in freshwater as well as in saltwater and dominates many tropical rivers and has been an important part of Australians’ diet for thousands of years. Barramundi is the indigenous Australian name of this fish and means “large scaled fish”. Their habitat includes streams, rivers, lakes, billabongs, estuaries and coastal waters

The Barramundi is prized by recreational fishers for its taste, size and fighting spirit when hooked. They eat almost anything, including other barramundi, and can consume prey up to 60 per cent their own length. They can grow up to 200 cm in length and 60 kg. During their lifecycle, they change sex from male to female.

Internationally, barramundi are known as Asian sea bass, giant perch or giant sea perch. They are distributed throughout coastal areas from the Persian Gulf to China and southern Japan, south to Papua New Guinea and northern Australia.

A barramundi needs 24 months to be nutured from a larvae ( 5mm ) up to a harvest size. A large female fish can have up to 32 millions eggs per season.

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Today we are guests on the farm and will visit the whole area and learn how barramundi is bred. Moreover we might have the chance to catch some Barramundi fish as well – let us see.

Once we arrive at the farm, it is Dan, one of the young owners of the farm , who welcomes us.

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His whole family is also living here – his wife , his 2 kids , mom and dad and the whole staff of the farm. They are great, super friendly and Mom who is a little chubby is also warmly welcoming us – what a woman!

The kids are wearing Tshirts with the Turkish flag to welcome us.

She tells us that she has a little surprise when we will come to their living area. Dan proudly tells us about the family’s story and the beginnings of the farm. The farm is in mid of the wilderness right at the Adelaide River – it needs a lot of water , this is why they are well situated over here.

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There were crocodiles, , mozzies, lizards , monitors, mangroves and there was a dream. This is how Humpty Doo Barramundi was built in 1993 and the dream started to become true.

– monitor –

From the earliest days the family started with little money, no land , no knowledge but a strong vision of what could be, they worked with recycled equipment and building materials, assisted by volunteer laborers, to develop Humpty Doo Barramundi as the professional and dynamic organization it is today.

It was a big fight and struggle in mid of this wild area – the fish is attractive to so many animals in the surrounding but the family could settle down well , started with a harvest of 300 kg of barramundi fish per year and grew the business steadily every year , sold it allover Australia and became one of the biggest farms in Australia.

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Dan is showing us around – the big basins where the fish is sorted by size and where they grow allover the year. They also need to protect the fish from other animals around.

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We are happy to see all the units of the fish breeding and then the preparation of the fish for the transport and the packaging in ice.

There is a also big board at the back of the farm where the workers need to fill in any information when they see some animal close to the farm eg the crocodiles which are around and coming out of the river and approaching the fish farms.

They need to write down the size of the animal and report the timing when they have seen the animal. Security on the farm is one of their priorities – for the fishes and also the people living on the farm.

Yes, we are allowed to do some fishing – we get our fishing rods – I am very curious on how to do it and whether I will be able to catch some barramundi fish.

Dan is helping me and shows me how to hold the fishing rod , how to throw it into the water and how to handle it to attract the fish to come to the rod.

Unbelievable the first fish is hung on the rod – my godness , it is so heavy and strong so that I cannot hold the fishing rod by my own.

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Dan is running and helping me to get the fish out of the water.

It is still alive and really huge ! Silver , glimsy and very strong – what a nice animal.

I ask Dan to get it back to the water – so we throw the fish back to its pond.

We continue fishing, it is really hot , the sun is shining.

We get our cold drinks – fishing is really great fun.

I have the chance to get 2 more Barramundis to my rod. Again I cant manage to get them out of the water by my own and need help. These 2 are also very huge and beautiful.

I also throw these back to the pond as long as they are still alive. It is really a great experience, Dan is very helpful and friendly and is telling us how they grow the fish over here.

After our fishing exercise we are really tired due to the hot weather as well.

Mom is calling us to their farm house – she is waiting for us with her surprise.

We step in – this farm house is really interesting – lots of stuff around, Mom has baked some cakes for us, tea and coffee is ready.

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Dave has prepared some Barramundi Carpaccio and also some grilled barramundi fish – so delicious!!!

We have fun in the farm house – the kids are running around , we have some music and eating our great dishes and drinking our tea and coffee – outside the crocs , the lizards , the monitors are around – the windows are huge and down to the ground and protected with some wire nets as the people in the farm house need to see the surrounding to know whether everything is safe or not.

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This is really a special place .

Mom is also inviting some of the workers to get some cakes and coffee.

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The men are looking as if they are out of an adventure film – their shirts, workers pants, a little muddy – I have never seen such boots – they are some type of caterpillar boots but they are so thick that I have the feeling that even if a crocodile would bite them, it would have no chance to bite through – they are that strong !!! My Godness!

Mom is happy to serve all of us as her guests – thanks to Dan , Mom and the whole family we experienced a special day and enjoyed that beautiful day altogether.

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Meanwhile the demand for Barramundi not only in Australia but worldwide is rising and the small family business was rising as well.

Today the Humpty Doo Barramundi farm is one of the largest in Australia and the family is also proud of having won lots of awards such as the Large Business Seafood Award at the 9thNational Seafood Awards in Sydney, the global environmental recognition (the water treatment system is the first of its kind in Australia. They recirculate their salt water using a manmade wetland to ensure optimum water quality for the fish while minimizing the need to release water back to the Adelaide River._) …. In Australia.

But also the struggle still holds on – in Feb 2014 there was continuous heavy rainfall in the region for several weeks so that there was a flood which covered also the access of the farm to the main road . However, the crew at Humpty Doo Barramundi knew what to do and they airlifted the fish to interstate markets instead of transporting the fish via the road as usual.

Not an easy job to survive in that remote region in this wilderness and to grow this kind of business – for this reason we all fully respect Dans and his family’s efforts throughout the years and their big success.

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