Everything you need to know about the King Ash Bay experience.
Vast and diverse, the Northern Territory is world-famous for its fishing adventures and visiting anglers often set their sights on King Ash Bay.
Each dry season (May to October), the King Ash Bay Fishing Club and community swell with the arrival of members and visitors who come to enjoy the great ‘winter’ weather (it’s warm all year round), the fishing, and the lifestyle. Many others drop in for a few days or weeks as part of a more extensive visit to Northern Australia. After receiving a warm welcome at King Ash Bay, you’ll want to return again and again.
Whether you’re looking to just get away, relax and explore the relatively unknown wilderness or you’re a keen angler looking for your next big catch, here’s everything you need to know about King Ash Bay.
The remote drive from Kununurra to King Ash Bay. (Image: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught)
Fishing at King Ash Bay
Come for the fishing, stay for the lifestyle, sums up King Ash Bay perfectly. With a two-lane boat ramp, hundreds of kilometres of sheltered, mangrove-lined rivers and creeks, and easy access to the Sir Edward Pellew Islands and surrounding waters, the range of fishing opportunities here is enormous.
Freshwater crocodiles are spotted lurking around the area.
Barramundi fishing is what draws most visitors, and while they can be caught all year round, most anglers prefer fishing for barra during the cooler dry season months. Aside from barra, there’s a wide range of fish available in the area. In the estuaries, popular target species include mangrove jack, golden snapper (fingermark), black jew, threadfin and blue salmon, javelin fish (grunter), and queenfish. Around the islands and reefs, these same species can be caught in addition to Coral Trout, Nannygai, Mackerel, Emperor (various types), and many more. The famous mud crab is also available in large numbers, so bring your pots with you.
King Ash Bay is a go-to fishing spot in the Northern Territory.
Fishing from the banks can provide some limited success, however, for the best results, it’s recommended to access a boat to experience the full potential of the area. Fishing charters are available through King Ash Bay River and Fishing Charters or NT Coastal Fishing Charters.
Swimming in the river is not advisable since there are crocs in the area.
King Ash Bay accommodation
At 1000 kilometres away from the nearest shopping centre and 700 kilometres from the nearest traffic lights, describing King Ash Bay as remote is putting it lightly, but in many respects, the area is a self-sufficient tiny town. Many visitors are amazed to discover that the bay generates its own power, supplies good quality water, and provides many other services you’d expect to find in a small community.
As well as accommodation, you’ll also find a service station, a well-stocked mini-mart, a nine-hole golf course, and Groper’s Bar & Grill with reasonably priced drinks and meals, entertainment, and communal activities.
King Ash Bay Caravan Park
Set in a natural bush environment, the best way to describe these remote camp areas is informal and friendly. There are no allocated sites and campers are free to choose their own camp area from those available when they arrive. There’s always room though in both the powered and unpowered areas and well-behaved dogs are welcome.
Visitors to King Ash Bay often choose to stay in their own caravans, camper trailers, or motor homes in the powered area. Being situated on high ground, this site is available all year. Toilets and hot showers are provided (as well as a dump pot for emptying caravan toilets) and coin-operated washing machines. Good quality bore water is also provided and it’s generally possible to connect your camper van or trailer to a tap. Small campfires are permitted but they must be attended to at all times and extinguished when not in use. Powered sites cost $40 per night.
King Ash Bay camping
For those who are camping in tents and swags, the very popular unpowered area (known locally as Genny Flats) is a lovely spot on the river bank, though it’s only available during the dry season due to the potential for flooding. Toilets and hot showers are provided. Unpowered sites cost $30 per night.
King Ash Bay cabins
For a touch of luxury, King Ash Bay has a variety of cabins available all year round with stunning views overlooking the McArthur River. They’re fully serviced with air-con and a variety of bedding configurations. All cabins have their own BBQ and outdoor settings, and they’re conveniently situated within walking distance of the King Ash Bay Fishing Club and boat ramp.
King Ash Bay houseboats
To up your game out on the water, why not stay on a houseboat? Located on the McArthur River at the fishing club, there are four fully equipped boats to choose from. The entertainment decks are great for relaxing with a drink and a BBQ and you can even fish straight off the boat. Prices are from $100pp per night plus fuel. It’s an excellent way to access some of the most remote fishing hotspots in Australia
King Ash Bay Lodge, Northern Territory
A little further away is King Ash Bay Lodge, nestled in beautiful gardens at the quiet end of town. Available all year round for groups of up to 12 people, you’ll find high standards of cleanliness here as well as plenty of extras to ensure your stay is as enjoyable as possible. On one side of the lodge, there’s a private, double self-contained unit, and on the other side, there are five twin-share rooms.
Things to know before you go to King Ash Bay
Located around 50 kilometres past Borroloola (along the Savannah Way) in the Gulf of Carpentaria, the bay is a full day’s drive from Darwin and approximately 650 kilometres from Katherine. There are many ways to get there but it really depends on how much time you have, your budget, and the time of year.
If you’re driving, you can take bitumen roads the entire way except for the last 21 kilometres. Make sure to carry enough fuel though because there are some stretches of road that are several hundred kilometres between fuel stations. However, the quickest way to get there (and probably the most expensive) is to fly via Darwin and then to the McArthur River Mine, where you can get picked up (approx one-hour drive from King Ash Bay).
Keep in mind that during the wet season, the road goes almost completely underwater and is very muddy. When the road is like that, you can only use a very capable 4WD to get through when absolutely necessary. However, during the dry season, the road is usable by all vehicles including 2WD sedans.
Venture across the long stretch of road to Borroloola. (Image: Tourism NT/Sean Scott)
With so much to see and do at the Top End of Australia, discover more about exploring the Northern Territory ahead of planning your next adventure.