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Festival celebrates the legendary barramundi

Karumba’s annual Barra and Blues Festival in May will be combined with the launch of an $8.5 million barramundi interpretive centre and the best fishing season in years.

Carpentaria Shire Mayor Jack Bawden said the outback town by the sea was gearing up for an influx of visitors as the recent floods had transformed the Gulf Savannah country in north-west Queensland into a lush green paradise.

“Our wetlands are teaming with birdlife and the fishing should be extraordinary, especially for those wanting to catch our famous barramundi. Locals have been reeling in enormous barra with some catches longer than 90cm,” he said.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Pip Close urged people to visit the Gulf Savannah and outback to support communities doing it tough after years of drought and then a flood.

Cr Bawden said the Barra and Blues Festival on May 4 and 5 would be a great weekend with ARIA nominee Ash Grunwald headlining the blues concert and the official opening of the stunning Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre.

“The ticketed concert on Saturday night also features singer Emily Wurramara, nominated for the 2018 ARIA Award for Best Blues and Roots Album, award-winning North Queensland blues and roots artist Tim Griffin, and local Normanton band Split Image,” he said.

“Other activities include free yoga, market stalls, free guided tours and barramundi feeding at the Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre, blues artist workshops, a Big Barra BBQ, and an outdoor screening of the legendary movie ‘The Blues Brothers’, with awards for best-dressed movie-goer.

“We are really excited to officially open the state-of-the-art Les Wilson Barramundi Discovery Centre which will enable visitors to discover the history, lifecycle and habits of the southern gulf barramundi that are bred in the hatchery.

“The interpretive centre also showcases the wetlands, mangroves, birdlife and flora of the southern Gulf. The centre originated some 25 years ago when a group of local fishermen set out to restock the local waterways with barramundi fingerlings to ensure a sustainable fishing future for years to come.

“They developed a barramundi restocking program and hatchery and, ultimately, a small interpretive centre which was upgraded to the new $11 million centre with funding from the Queensland Government’s Building Our Regions program.”

Karumba, a nine-hour drive west of Cairns, attracts about 55,000 visitors a year with most arriving for the barramundi fishing season from February to October.

Tickets for the Saturday night concert are $65. Find out more at or look for Karumba Barra Blues Festival on Facebook.