On returning from the island I found out my news had preceeded me to Noosa Flashpackers where the owners already knew I got the job! A celebratory dominos pizza and beer were shared after a much needed shower and laundry run. I quickly realised I had a lot to do before making my move to the island and I was going to be working with dropbear from the next morning helping them move to their new HQ. The next couple of days were spent cleaning, running errands and having a generally great time getting to know Hannah – a fellow last minute volunteer and the owners Hana and Mark. I was stupidly excited but also nervous, I was leaving Noosa and was about to spend a full four weeks on the world’s largest sand island with next to no service, wifi, or familiarity but hey, isn’t that what travel is all about?
On the morning we left it was another early start with the tour group and after convincing three Dutch backpackers that Dropbears were a real thing (sorry guys) we arrived at the eco lodge retreat, my new found home. There was no rest for the wicked as we helped set up lunch and soon Vicky had us reading our volunteer manuals and explaining what our roles would be. From cooking, preparing food, cleaning, gardening and bed making both at the campsite and retreat, it soon became clear that we would never have a shortage of things to do! Meeting the fellow volunteers was great and we all got on so well, it seemed crazy that people would be leaving so soon.
Our days were spent doing a few hours work for the true luxury of living in paradise and every day I was grateful that I had this opportunity. After about ten days I heard another brit was joining the team and the more I heard about her, I felt sure it was someone who stayed at flashpackers while I was on the staff. Sure enough, to my delight, Sophie turned up and it was an amazing reunion. It’s incredible how close you can become with people in such a short space of time when travelling and this was a great example for sure! From our sunbathing sessions whilst reading books, to many laughs and several trips to the bakery (donuts…) it was safe to say we were loving our island lives. The little volunteer family also had our (almost) daily ritual of an insanity workout which devastatingly lead to disaster one day. Sophie managed to dislocated her kneecap – remember when I said I could repay the favour of people helping me out with my shoulder? Luckily one of the other volunteers on the island, Meg, was a physio and with her advice and mine and Holly’s attempts at providing laughter and snacks we kept up Sophies spirits until her inevitable departure from the island. It was sad to see her go, especially in such an unexpected way but we had some great memories as our little team.
Cooking became a daily obsession with us trying to make the most of our diet based mostly on leftovers! Potato cakes became a firm favourite and I didn’t know how varied a meal you can cook up on a BBQ… Super Australian ay! Pizza nights and mainland snacks were a true treat as was a rather Pimms filled visit from Mama and Papa bear!! The tour guides were all amazing and each had their own stories to tell. Some personal highlights were Fuzzy’s songs, Garry’s star talks, and Dave’s didgeridoo lessons and story times. The local wildlife always provided entertainment with waiting for snakes to cross a road, seeing countless humpback whales, the two goannas (Gizmo and Godfrey) and my standout being a dingo pup. With evenings spent at the beach fishing at sunset, playing cards again humanity and generally enjoying each others company, it was a unique and special time.
I know they say time flies when you’re having fun but this month truly went in a flash. I was soon booked on to my departing tour and saying yet more goodbyes to some truly remarkable people. The passion, dedication, and love of a job and place from Mama and Papa Bear is something I have never come close to seeing before. They are a huge source of inspiration, and a breath of fresh air in an industry that so easily becomes about money. I cannot thank them enough for giving me this opportunity and I have recommended it to so many people who I know would appreciate it just as much as I have.
This was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful months of my life, never mind in Australia, and k’Gari and my dropbear family will be a part of my life forever. Wherever I go, I’ll take only memories but I’ve taken some of the best from here.