That fine drizzly rain that I’m so used to seeing back home.
I did not think it had the tenacity to follow me to the other side of the world. Yet here it is leaking from the grey blanket above and covering everything in its path in a damp mist.
I have taken shelter at the Caltex petrol station as I wait for my next adventure to begin. As the cars pull up, refuel and then drive off again only to be replaced a few moments later by another it suddenly dawns on me.
I am the only one here.
With only minutes left until the scheduled rendezvous how can I be the only one here? Perhaps I have gotten the meeting place wrong? A quick check of my email tells me otherwise.
As I look up from my phone a friendly face appears from inside a minibus that I hadn’t spot pull up.
My 1770 Castaway adventure has begun.
But not as I had expected it. There is no-one else joining me today. I will be “cast off” on my own. There is, however, another adventurer who is extending their stay so I won’t be completely on my own.
But wait, what is this adventure I speak of?
Just across the bay from the town of Seventeen Seventy lies Middle Island and camp 1770 Castaway. Billed as the area’s answer to Fraser Island there are clear warnings that this bushland adventure is definitely not for the princesses (and prince’s for the matter) out there.
To find out what else you can get up to up in 1770 and Agens water check out this post Agnes Water: 5 Reasons why you shouldn't skip it
By the time I had signed my life away back at the castaway offices and we had packed my bag and camp supplies (all the drinking water, food and wood for the fire is taken into camp) the drizzle had all but dried up and the day was looking brighter.
That was until we got to the harbour.
The rain it seemed had only moved so far as the bay and we had to go straight through it to get to camp. I was going to get wet.
A 20 min boat ride later and looking like I had been thrown overboard during the journey, we reached the beach.
Through the trees emerged the last batch of 1770 Castaway survivors and Serge – your 1770 Castaway adventure facilitator. I was to learn later that Serge actually lives on the Island and returns to 1770 when absolutely necessary- usually due to storms or illness.
My fellow castaways took one look at my drowned rat-like appearance and knew that they were in for a wet return to the mainland. They, however, would have access to warm showers on the other side.
Luckily, Serge already had the fire going so I was able to warm up next to that. Rain and campfire? Yes, it felt just like camping back home only with a bit more sand.
The 1770 Castaway camp itself was nestled behind a sand dune affording some natural protection from the elements. It also meant that from the water you would not know that it was there.
There were several hammocks strung up near the top of the dune giving great views back across the bay. Today, however, they were looking a little sad and lonely as the water dripped off the colourful material.
Wooden benches surrounded the warm glow of the campfire with 2 larger kitchen-esque tables surrounding them.
Everything in this camp had its place. From the fridges and Eskies (cool boxes) to the stoves – even the sharp kitchen knives had their own little living space.
Like all camps, there were multi-purpose ropes. First used to keep the shelter up before being commandeered to dry wet clothing. There was also a water tank. The main shelter had been cleverly designed so that when it rains the water could be collected for non-drinking purposes such as washing-up.
Then there was the toilet.
A short walk from the main camp and up a small flight of stairs you would find the loo with a view. Literally a toilet seat over a hole that leads to a composting bin this was an experience in itself.
By day you had a great view over the shoreline and by night and equally amazing view of the stars (subject to cloud cover).
Unfortunately, the rain that had plagued my journey here didn’t relent until early evening. All adventures were called off and soggy afternoon relaxing in camp was pencilled in.
While you are expected to bring your own food and alcohol there is a compulsory $5/night charge to cover the evening meal.
This was the best $5/night I have ever spent.
If you’re lucky enough to have Serge cook for you then you are in for a treat. I have been in Australia for 5 months now (at time of writing) and the meals he cooked for us are still the tastiest food I have had while I’ve been here. Proper home cooked food. My mouth is watering just thinking about all the flavours and smells and how cosy I felt afterwards. It was a damn good feed!
Your evenings, as with the whole 1770 Castaway adventure, are spent doing as you please.
With a roaring fire, good tunes (there is Bluetooth speaker plus access to electricity for charging your devices – although it is very patchy signal so make sure you download those Spotify playlists) and good company I spent
my evenings playing cards and chatting to my fellow adventurers.
One of the evenings entered late into the night listening to various different bands and trading musical knowledge with Serge. Ever eager to hear something new and different he would often ask us to write the name of a song or band down to investigate further for himself later.
Once the stars were awake so too were Serge’s “pets”.
Having spent so much time on the Island it was only a matter of time before he befriended some of its creatures.
While snakes, guanas and echidnas are amongst some of his wild friends, it the cheeky possums that live in the trees above the camp that are so obviously his favourite.
They come for snacks and are so friendly that you can even pet them.
However, they are super cheeky and their love for bananas saw them find their way into the fridge one night leaving a huge mess for us to clean up the following morning!
The 2nd day of my adventure brought with it much finer weather.
Clear, blue skies and a light breeze that despite being next to the sea did not have that salty taste to it.
With the tide on our side, we grabbed the kayaks and paddled across the small channel between Middle Island and Bustard Head. On the agenda was a little rock climbing and caving before heading up to check out the views from the lighthouse.
Stood at the bottom of the pile of rocks I was about to climb with no ropes I felt the familiar rush of adrenaline race around my body. Serge had made it look so easy – but no ropes? What if I fall?
I needn’t have worried, after traversing a couple of tricky spots I was at the top before I knew it. The reward was some stunning views.
Having taken many a traveller around this area, Serge likes to mix it up. Taking different groups on different paths up to the lighthouse.
We were lucky.
He took us round to the top of the caves that we had just been exploring for some more spectacular views.
As we strolled towards the lighthouse Serge kept pointing out different plants including edible ones and even made a colony of biting ants angry to demonstrate how they defend their home!
The lighthouse brought yet more great views.
The afternoon brought with it the highlight of my 1770 Castaway adventure, sand boarding. Not just any kind of sand boarding but sandboarding that ends with you flying into the water!
First, however, we had to get there.
That meant a little trip in a boat. A boat that I got to drive myself. OK, so the engine was pretty small but having never done anything like this before it was pretty exciting. Well, once I managed to get it started anyway.
Remember the rain that had fallen all day yesterday? Well, that rain had compacted the sand and compacted sand means speed. After hiking up to the top of the dune, I stood at the top feeling excited
The kind of feeling you get just before you abseil or jump off the diving boards at your local pool.
Kneeling down ready to go, I knew it was going to be fast.
I wanted to go but there was something stopping me.
That fear of hurting myself, of the unknown.
I could feel myself smiling and I began to laugh. I’d been in this place before and knew once I took the first “step” I’d be fine.
Damn it Rachel just go already!
A few deep breaths later and a momentary switching off of my brain and I was off. Sliding down the fresh sand and into the water below.
I now know why people choose to do the skeleton.
I was hooked, that adrenaline rush was something else. However, I didn’t quite have the courage to go for the “big one” mainly because it involved steering and for now going straight was enough. Baby steps my friends.
The great weather for the day then treated us to a chilled out sunset which then revealed to us a blanket of stars. Being so far away from any kind of town meant that we were treated to views that you usually only see in photographs. It was truly magical.
As the sun rose on my final day it brought with it the news that we would be catching a life from the LARC tour back to the mainland and not taking the speedboat.
Even though this would most certainly be a longer trip back, it would mean that there was a huge decrease in the likelihood that we were going to get soaked which was something I could totally get on board with.
Despite the 1770 Castaway not being anywhere near as survivalist as the film that it is named after, it is an adventure worth undertaking.
Especially if you’re looking for more of an Aussie bushland/back-to-nature experience without the hassle of investing in all the equipment yourself.
Since my adventure, the 1770 Castaway team have invested in their own LARC to take adventurers to and from camp. This has also allowed them to extend the number of options that they can offer which now includes day trips.
So even if you don’t really fancy the camping experience you can still “ cast off” for the day! (book you’re 1770 Castaway Adventure)
Until next time