1770 & Middle Island 29th September - 3rd October 2010
Oh My God I can't believe it's October already! We've already seen Christmas stuff in the shops out here, but thankfully it's not a touch on Woolworths vast array they use to display from August. It really hit me just how long we'd been away when I realised it was October (and it was actually on the 3rd, I kind of missed the 1st).
We had bit of a mishap with booking the coach to come down from Airlie Beach to Agnes Waters. This is usually done on an overnight Greyhound coach, but for some reason the travel agent decided to break it up and booked us a night at a place completely off the beaten track called Emu Park. This meant rather than the overnighter we actually had to get off at a town called Rockhamton and then get a 45 minute transfer to the hostel at Emu Park. It really was a whirlwind stay as we got us in at 8pm and left again at 5am the next morning, but it was a lovely hostel and sure it would have been a great place to spend a few days if we had the time. I also spent most of the evening trying to have a Skype call which very frustratingly kept cutting off, but we got there in the end and all I have to say on that gos bless video Skype. :)
We had one night in Agnes Waters before we flew out to Middle island and we were staying in a hostel called Cool Bananas. This is by far the best hostel we've stayed in and felt at home as soon as we got there. I think a lot of the vibe is because they don't have wifi, so everyone actually talks to each other rather than sitting around staring at their laptops. I of course am one of these latter unsociable types, but really enjoyed not having internet access at my finger tips - although the flip side is I now have an absolute tonne of stuff to catch up with. Oh well, no rest for the wicked.
As luck would have it we were booked into the same dorm as a girl called Danni who was also coming out to the island. We were told there were also 2 Canadian girls coming along too, and as coincidence would have it the three of us happened to sit next to them at dinner and quickly realised this was the island group. We were all very excited and I recruited Katherine into coming too. :)
Middle / Castaway / Naked Goon island
The next morning I woke up and was so excited. I was pretty glad to know that I do still get really excited about stuff like this as I was slightly worried I'd become a bit blaze with everything.
The plane that was taking us to the island, lands on the beach so we could only go at low tide. This meant our flight would be at 3pm and we were to meet beforehand at 2pm. As we had the morning to kill we all met for breakfast in the hostel and then jumped into Sarah & Angela's car for a little tour around Agnes Water & 1770. They are proper hippy chicks, and they live out of their big blue estate car which was absolutely covered in toiletries, camping equipment and clothes. We all piled into the car, covered in flower stickers, we had proper random tunes blaring and we drove out to a lookout over 1770. I love these moments - the moments when it hits you that you really are travelling. We didn't know any of these girls this time yesterday, and now we're driving around, planning the next couple of days, figuring out what we should get for dinner and singing along to the radio like we've known each other years.
After we'd been to the look out, we went to the drive thru bottle shop (can you imagine that in England - a drive through off licence - fecking hilarious!), loaded the car with enough goon to sink a ship and then hit the beach for an hour. We got some lunch, went food shopping and then went to meet the Pilot at the travel agents who was giving us a lift to the Airport. In hindsight maybe we should have purchased more food than alcohol, but where's the fun in that? ;)
We met our Pilot Bruce who drove us to the airstrip and I had some very interesting conversations with him about people onboard some of his flights who have joined the mile high club! Hilarious and it definitely kept my attention! As we were driving to the airport we kept passing through gates which I had to jump out and unlock and then lock again, but we were going into a forest. I said it's pretty strange for an airport to be in a forest and he started making jokes about it being called The Wolf Creek Airstrip! Heeeeello, do you not understand the issues I have trying to calm my highly overactive imagination?! And you're not helping.
We finally cleared the forest and arrived at a long field - oh my god, that's not seriously meant to be a runway is it?! Where's the airport? Then we saw the itsy bitsy teeny weeny plane. It had 4 seats, including the Pilots, a propeller on the front and all the luggage went behind the back seat and was held in place with a couple of those elasticated cables. As there were 6 of us we had to go over in 2 flights, so Selena, Danni & I went first and we crawled into the plane. He drove down the bumpy field until we got to the end, turned round and off we went.
It was proper rickety and we felt every bump and gust of wind. The flight over took about 15 minutes and was absolutely breathtaking. We past lots of sand banks and other small islands, before we reached the one we would be calling home for the next couple of days. Landing on the beach is a memory that will last forever. The landing was really soft and we cruised along the beach watching the waves rolling in about 10 meters from the plane.
Did I mention that this was a new excursion set up by the Pilot and as they hadn't been operating for even 2 weeks they'd given it to us for free?
Anyway, the Pilot dropped us off and went to pick up the rest of the girls and we took our stuff up to 'camp'. Camp was literally 2 tables with a gas ring on it, some folded up chairs and 2 canoes - can't get much more random than that!We eventually found the tents which were in a forest. The path was hardly trodden and we were constantly falling over vines that ran across the path - and this was even before we'd cracked open the goon! The other girls landed and we went over to the plane for our photo shoot. The pilot was getting us to sit on the wings and pose which was hilarious getting up and down, but certainly not gracious. We were then walking back to the camp when we saw 2 snakes mating on the beach. The pilot said they were Brown snakes which are very deadly and that we should stay away from them. Not a problem mate, but how do we make sure they stay away from us? Our phones don't even work out here and it's not like there's a local A&E just down the road, hell we didn't even have any flares!
We had already started collecting firewood so we could have a big bonfire on the beach (strictly speaking it was a National Park so we really shouldn't of, but there was no-one else on the island, so really, how would they find out, unless they read this of course). I've wanted to go to a beach party with a massive bonfire for as long as I could remember so wasn't going to let a small fact like that get in the way. As it had been raining the night before and a lot of the wood was damp I was worried we'd have trouble getting the wood to catch light and managed to convince the Pilot to give us some of the Aviation fuel from his plane. :) Oh the fun and games we had with that!
It was starting to get dark pretty quick, so half of us carried on collecting firewood and the other 3 started dinner. We were collecting everything from small sticks, to standing on trees and pulling them apart. Obviously they were still partly green, but they all burnt magnificently in the end.
Getting the fire going was quite an achievement even with the jet fuel and it took us about half an hour to get it going. Apparently Aviation fuel has a higher burning point than normal fuel, so it was only once the fire was going that it all of sudden really took off. We were so impressed that we'd made fire that we all started dancing round it like the fire goddesses that we were, chanting oogga boogga, oogga boogga. You maybe had to be there, but it was absolutely hilarious and we were all so impressed with ourselves. The girls brought the burgers down to us and we all sat around drinking our goon. We soon discarded the glasses because as soon as it was poured the glass started filling up with sand.At one point I went to put some more wood on the fire and by the time I'd come back my towel could no longer be seen - Selena thought it had been blown away or I was just sitting on the sand. That meant there was only one thing for it, we certainly couldn't waste any more goon and quite frankly no matter how much we drank we couldn't drink enough not to notice the mouthful of sand with each gulp, so we just started drinking straight from the bags. Lol.
We had a really good evening and sat around the fire cooking sausages in tin foil, toasting marshmallows, drinking goon and star gazing. The stars here were amazing, I can't even begin to explain just how bright the sky was. It also looks different to the night sky back in England due to the different star formations in the Southern Hemisphere.
Unfortunately it then started raining but we sat there defiant that a bit of water would not make us move - we're not made of sugar after all. And then the heaven's opened in another tropical downpour - oh yay! We then all made a mad dash up the beach, through the camp, down the obstacle filled paths and into the tent.
Now i'm going to set the scene here a bit, as if this had been filmed we could have made a lot of money sending it into all the 'you've been framed' programmes. When you walk around areas like this you have to stomp. The reason for this is it alerts all the snakes that you are there, they can move out the way and we don't end up standing on them and then get bitten. So we're running down a very uneven path that is basically slightly trodden down bush which is covered in bits of wood, grass, stones and has vines running across it so we're tripping up every couple of foot. Then there's the spider webs, vines hanging down from the trees and tree branches poking out everywhere that we're constantly running into. It's pitch black - not only are there no lights on this island what-so-ever, the moon is a cresent moon so hardly any light from that and we're also in a dense forest. It is absolutely pouring, so we're running in twos, one behind the other, holding a towel over both our heads. We're highly intoxicated, running, and singing the Stomp song which goes something like this - EVERRRRYBODYYYY Stomp, Stomp... stom, s, stom, stom, STOMP!
Anyway, we finally all make it back to the tent, which is one tent with a dome on each end, but we can't all pile in there cos there's not enough room. We were all soaked and covered in sand and we're trying to keep the sleeping bit as clean as possible. We eventually all got in and then noticed all the bugs, spiders, ants - you name it it's f***ing here - yuck, yuck, yuuuuck!!!!
Selena was on an alcohol fuelled bug killing mission and my god - hat's off to her, there wasn't a single little fecker left. Even when we had turned the torch off to go to sleep, we'd turn one of them on every now and again and the inside of our sleeping bit was full of them again! There must have been a hole or something, and these things were dirty - they are nothing like the bugs we have at home. I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess at what some of them were, but she got them all. :)
So after a not very good night's sleep as there was a huge tree root in my back, constantly thinking things were crawling on me, I could hear an animal that sounded like a very loud type writer - seriously WTF, other very strange noises, and my overactive imagination thinking this would be a good horror film setting with mad men running out of the bush wielding machetes, we all got up about 6.30. And what an awesome day we had.
We realised in the mad rush of getting back to the tent that we hadn't done up one of the cool bags, so a lot of the food was ant infested. We managed to all have breakfast, but we didn't have any other food and the Pilot wasn't coming back to get us until 5pm. Nothing for it - we must fend for ourselves, if we can make fire (granted we may have cheated just a tad), then we can sort this out. Selena & Danni went Fishing and caught 2 pretty big fish, and whilst they were doing that we were eating Oysters straight from the rocks, with a little bit of lemon squeezed on it. I must say I really don't understand why anyone would eat an Oyster - they are disgusting and you just swallow them.However, as the girls pointed out that was the freshest way anyone could eat one - straight off the rocks. :)
As we were the only ones on the island we also all decided to get some all over tans, and were all sunbathing butt naked all day - so funny. And we decided to take a load of Calendar girls style pics too.Just as well they didn't have CCTV on this island!
We went back to the camp and cooked up the fish for lunch and did some more sunbathing before it was time to leave. The plane ride on the way back was awesome and Bruce proper started to throw it around. He was waving the wings around, doing really sharp turns constantly making us feel like our stomachs were in our throats. Then he asked Danni for her camera and he put it on the dash board. The plane was ascending and then all of a sudden the plane was in a nose dive - I could see the ground directly in front of me out of the front window and I was sitting in the back!!! The three of us were screaming and hysterically laughing at the same time, and the camera he'd put on the dash board started floating back to us. So did Selena's hat that had been on her lap - it was so strange.He then opened the Pilot's side window mid air and the wind knocked my sun glasses off my head and they landed in the back of the plane.
It was such a great experience and when we got back we were all on an absolute high. It did make me realise though that 10 minutes of stunt tricks was more than enough and I certainly wouldn't want to go up in a real stunt plane that went upside and stuff.
All of the girls agreed that this was by far the best experience any of us had whilst being away. Absolutely spectacular. :)
The afternoon after we got back from Naked Goon Island was spent as a bad ass Biker chick. It was pretty nerve wracking as I'd never ridden a motorbike before, but how often to do get to be part of a Hell's Angels style motorbike procession? The fact that I didn't crash it still amazes me and I soooo want one when I get home.
The photos pretty much speak for themselves, and we spent the afternoon driving at speeds up to 80kmph and we drove nearly 80km over a few hours around the towns of Agnes Water and 1770. We stopped for some wicked photo shoots, got a big box of potato wedges which we ate whilst watching the sunset and then we all drove back in the dark.
I'm not going to write anymore on that cos quite frankly I'm losing the will to live writing this Blog. It's turned into bit of an essay.
However, I would like to say I'm currently writing this whilst laying in a hammock that's gently rocking from side to side, and is shaded by baby palm trees rustling in the wind. There's some soft ambient music playing, it's really warm, I can see gorgeous blue skies and Kathrine's sitting on the bench next to my hammock reading news stories. Chilean miners trapped underground - won't be out until Christmas, Terrorist threats on Europe, Palestine peace talks not going well (really?! Lol, they never do - surely it would be bigger news if they were actually agreeing on something for a change), murders in Scotland, hundreds of passengers in emergency landing at Heathrow, Saturday afternoon credit card company nightmare for B&Q, Sainsbury's and Tescos. Dear oh dear. I feel like I'm in a different world at the moment just swinging around in hammock, reading stuff that almost sounds like fiction. I'm sure it will all hit me like a tonne of bricks when I'm back, but for now I'm really enjoying not caring about anything.