Report: Inside the SWB Barra Challenge

HAVING fished the Secret Women’s Business (SWB) Barra Challenge for the last two years (2011 and 2012) it was clear to me that if the organisers wanted to attract interstate teams they needed a clearly set out format that all girls could be privy to before the tournament, yet not lose the fun of the actual event.

I was pretty excited to be invited to this year’s tournament and to comment on how it was run. This event is run by a group of member volunteers from the Palmerston Gamefishing Club. After last year’s tournament a group of ladies from the club got together and vowed to not let this tournament die and to make it one of the premiere ladies’ events in Australia. Kristen Noble, Chrissie Hurren and Heather Malone put their heads together and started the momentum of what was going to be a fantastic event.

Competing in the Barra Challenge comes via an expression of interest entry; this is because numbers have to stay limited due to the capacity to accommodate and cater for everyone at the Corroboree Park Tavern which is a fantastic venue.


This year’s event was held on October 4 and 5 with Trafficwerx NT the major sponsor.  Having the luxury of a major sponsor meant the Palmerston Gamefishing Club committe was able to raise money and donate $6000 to Carers NT.

The tournament is for ladies only – no male skippers or deckhands – meaning the ladies do everything from operating the boat through to fishing. There are a number of volunteer male marshals on hand in case of boat trouble or to lend a hand when launching and retrieving boats. However, most ladies were happy to attempt launches  themselves.


With 37 teams and 123 female anglers all arriving to set up camp at Corroboree Park Tavern the grounds came alive with chatter, pink feathers and frocks and stories of the road trip and pre-fish days. The atmosphere was exciting as they all took a seat for the briefing on the following two days’ events.

The ladies remained friends on and off the water with words of encouragement echoing  across the billabong. No wonder the barramundi were hiding as every corner you turned there was loud shrieking and fits of giggles!

There were boats ranging from 3m bathtubs through to rigs of approx. 7metres. The women were let loose behind the wheel and were having to make all the tough decisions of where to fish, whether to troll or cast and when to move. Some of them had new toys to play with such as electric motors and sounders as big as TV screens.

The main aim of the tournament is to catch the most and largest barramundi, however, saratoga are allowed but only worth half the points of a barra. It was good to see the committee working with NT Fisheries this year; with any barramundi caught the girls were taught how to tag them before release. This will give Fisheries an insight into the fish’s movements throughout the Mary River system.

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Although the barramundi seemed pretty elusive to previous years the girls stuck it out and on Day one and saw the following caught: –

  • A total of 10 barramundi tagged and released and 29 saratoga
  • The longest barramundi was 53cm caught by Bree Sing
  • The most barramundi tagged and released was 3 by Tina Moyle
  • The longest saratoga was 71cm caught by Alana Young
  • The most saratoga caught and released was 5 by Tracey Saliba
  • The leading team was a Cupla Qwyties & A Chill on 355 points

After boats were retrieved and re-fueled and fishing tackle prepared for the next day, it was time for the girls to line up for a fantastic buffet of food put on by the Tavern and over a few drinks enjoy the entertainment – by the Teazers, Jeff Udy and an iron woman event.

There were lots of laughs through tired faces and the fishing stories flowed. There was no talk of husbands, kids or families … it was all about the fishing, either this year or previous years’ memories. It was great to catch up with a lot of fellow ladies and just talk fishing.

Day two might have slowed the marshalls up, but the ladies after getting a glimpse of the top 10 were more than eager to get on the water knowing there was not much in it to win.

The weather hadn’t relented with hot humid days testing the girls’ spirits but they did not falter, although finding lily pads and the houseboat donated for use as the amenities block a welcome relief of shade out of the blistering sun.

It was another tough day but the ladies sweated it out until “lines in”. Some came back with smiles after managing a couple of fish while others hadn’t turned a reel.


Anticipation was building as it was presentation night when the champion team would be announced. Had a Cupla Qwyties and A Chill done enough to stay in front?

Day 2 saw fewer fish caught with only eight barramundi and 19 saratoga. Cupla Qwyties and A Chill were able to advance their lead catching a total of 14 saratoga and two barramundi over both days giving them a total of 522 points to take out Champion Team. Their tactic to target saratoga since the barramundi were scarce had paid off.


Reidy Lures donated a perpetual trophy this year for the Biggest Barramundi. It was fantastic to see this go to Amanda Parker from team Barra Patrol with a 56cm fish. Amanda caught it trolling a rock bar up the billabong and was her first ever-legal barramundi.

There were also a number of prizes awarded for the runner-ups, best dressed and creative photo with fish and sponsors’ products on display and best expression of interest. The night went on with lots of celebrations.


The morning saw the packing up of campsites through aching heads and a lot of hugs as teams said good-bye to one another and hoped to catch up again next year.

Palmerston Gamefishing Club already run a number of premier fishing events such as the Barra Nationals and now the Secret Women’s Business Barra Challenge has become on the of the largest premier events for ladies.

For full results of the 2013 event can log onto the SWB Facebook Page hSWB Facebook page and to register your interest for 2014 you can email

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