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Yellowpatch: Curtis Island’s best kept secret

When people think of Curtis Island these days, its often in association with the new coal seam gas plants that have been erected there. And whilst the trio of plants certainly dominate the view of the island from Gladstone Harbour, it is by no means typical of the rest of this large Curtis Coast feature.

Curtis Island is the northernmost and largest of the group of islands that make up Gladstone Harbour. It is the third largest island in Queensland and excluding the developments on the southern end, largely untouched. Its perfect for fishing, camping, four wheel driving, hiking and boating and due to the limited access to the island, you’ll easily find a spot away from the crowd!

There are 4 main camping areas on the island, but by far the stand out for me is Yellowpatch! Yellowpatch is a remote campsite located on the north-eastern tip of Curtis Island, tucked in behind Cape Capricorn. It is accessible only by boat and is instantly recognisable by its distinct large yellow sand blow from which it derives its name. The camping is on a sheltered beach to the east of the sand blow in amongst a stand of native hardwood trees. It’s a really enticing spot which is frequented by anglers using it as a base to fish or crab in the adjourning estuary.

The other common visitor to Yellowpatch are the cruising sailers like ourselves. The anchorage in the estuary, once you’ve successfully navigated the mouth, is deep and sheltered. It’s a perfect place to layover for a few days or even a few weeks. It was here, at the foot of Yellowpatch itself, that we anchored up.

You may recall in an earlier article I wrote about my brother’s 40ft solar powered catamaran. This trip found us once again at sea on the ‘Solar Coaster’. We travelled from the mouth of the Boyne River around the southern tip of Facing Island and up the Eastern side of Facing and Curtis Islands to Cape Capricorn. Our plan on arrival was to do a little bit of fishing, a little bit of hiking, a little bit of canoe product testing and a great big bit of next to nothing. All in, the perfect recipe for an escape from the rat race.

We had bought 2 new canoes with us to test out on this trip, the square stern Kingfisher 14 and the Sprite 11 pack canoe with a new recliner style fishing seat fitted. Both canoes were designed for the fishing market and we wanted to wet a line in both to see how they performed in an estuary environment. The square stern Kingfisher 14 in particular we wanted to evaluate as a potential tender to a large boat such as ours. It’s a tough life sometimes having to go to beautiful places and mess around in boats, but we survived it. Both canoes performed admirably and will be added to our One Tree lineup hopefully in time for Christmas

The fishing during our trip was consistent, if not particularly fruitful. We did manage to land enough bream and flathead to provide a couple of meals but we certainly weren’t returning home with a freezer full of fillets. I suspect the empty freezer was more to do with the skill level of the anglers rather than the availability of fish to be caught. The water in the estuary is so clear you can see to the bottom in most places and there appeared to be no shortage of fish down there.

Having decided that fishing perhaps was better left for others, we took the obligatory hike up the sand blow. Its quite a hike to the top, but well and truly worth the effort! The view of the islands to the north extends to the Keppel group and includes the rugged Hummocky Island. The back drop of the crystal clear blue water against the golden yellow of Yellowpatch itself is incredible! The birdlife in the area is quite prevalent and we were lucky enough to see Whistling and Brahminy Kites circling overhead. Bet they were catching more fish than us!

The hiking in the local area at Yellowpatch is a little limited due to the surrounding salt pans. However, it is possible to hike through to the eastern shoreline of Curtis Island and up to Cape Capricorn Lighthouse if you’re feeling energetic. We weren’t…

The real attraction of Yellowpatch is just its attractiveness. Its a wonderful place to drop anchor and just unwind for a few days. The kind of spot were you can grab the boat and buzz around for a few hours or just cheerfully sit and watch the world go by. Anyone who has had anything to do with yachties will know that come 4pm its time for happy hour! Out come the cheese platters, salami and biscuits, all to be washed down with a nice bottle of wine thanks very much. We certainly weren’t about to depart from tradition. Even better when its on the beach watching the sun go down over the water.

So, with canoes paddled, hill hiked and fish caught, we headed off back home. In all, not a lot of much done during our week at Yellowpatch, but that is kind of the idea with places like this. If you’re looking for a spot to anchor up and recharge the batteries, there are few better spots. We will certainly be back for more.

If you want any information about the Curtis Coast, I highly recommend contacting Gladstone Region Tourism at, for more information about fishing canoes and how NOT to catch fish, give Dan a shout at One Tree Canoe Company. Happy Paddling :)

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