Outback rain dumps fish on Lajamanu residents in freak weather event

Annie Hesse
Updated February 27 2023 - 1:00pm, first published February 22 2023 - 12:31pm
Fish have been raining from the sky in Lajamanu. Picture via Facebook.
Fish have been raining from the sky in Lajamanu. Picture via Facebook.

In an episode of 'Only in the Northern Territory', Outback rain has dumped live fish on residents in a small community on the edge of the Tanami Desert.

Residents of Lajamanu said the freak scaly phenomenon occurred during a heavy storm, when fish suddenly started to "rain from the sky".

"We've seen a big storm heading into my community and we thought it was just rain," Central Desert councillor Andrew Johnson Japanangka told the media.

"But it wasn't just rain - it was water and fish coming across our community.

"When the rain started falling, we saw fish falling as well.

"It was the most amazing thing we've ever seen.

"There were many fish, too many," he said.

In other news

The councillor said it wasn't the first time residents in Lajamanu, 560km from Katherine, had witnessed the strange event.

"This is not the first time this happened ... it happened a few times."

Reports show fish fell from the sky in Lajamanu in 2010 and 2004, in a phenomenon caused by strong updrafts over rivers and lakes, according to weather boffins.

The fish, which were the "size of two fingers" are believed to be freshwater spangled perch - dropped from the Outback sky possibly hundreds of kilometres away from their habitat.

Katherine bestseller author says fish falling from the sky in the NT's Outback is nothing new.
Katherine bestseller author says fish falling from the sky in the NT's Outback is nothing new.

Knickers full of fish

Katherine bestseller author Toni Tapp Coutts remembers a similar phenomenon from her childhood at Killarney Station in the Victoria Daly region of the Northern Territory.

"One wet season we headed out for a rain dance," she wrote in her book "My Outback Childhood".

"We jumped, squealed and slid in the mud, throwing mud balls at each other - and there were thousands of little silver fish, no more than an inch long, flapping all over the ground.

"We ran around, picking them up by the handful.

"We raced home, fists and knickers full of fish."

Mrs Tapp Coutts said she remembers thousands of fish "flapping on the red ground and in mud puddles".

"The fish phenomenon occurred a number of times - and to this day it is not an unusual occurrence in the Victoria River Region.

"It seems that, through a quirk of nature, the fish hatchlings can be swept up in a wind squall over a river and dumped hundreds of kilometres away by rain."

Annie Hesse

Annie Hesse

Northern Territory Correspondent

I am an award-winning media and communications professional with experience across print, digital, social and radio broadcast, as well as photography and videography. I am the NT Correspondent at Australian Community Media and I write for my hometown newspaper, the Katherine Times. I love telling people's stories, and I am passionate about giving those a voice who may otherwise remain unheard. When I am not busy putting pen to paper, I spend time in my garden, go bushwalking or travel across the Northern Territory, Australia or the world. In my spare time I write, illustrate and publish books.

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