Noosa Everglades Gagaju Bush Camp Canoe Expedition was basically just another way of saying ‘Fat Camp.’ Apart from the first day, when I was busy catching crabs, I was made to row/canoe along massive expanses of Everglade. Without substantial food.
And there was no rest for the hungover.
Before setting off from the shops in a little convoy towards the camp, we were warned (and apologised to) for having to drive through “Wolf Creek territory” (camp supervisor’s words, not mine). After driving through it we realised why it was mentioned…
It was like a permanent slum. Built in the woods. Think Deliverance.
Any second now, someone is going to get Wrong Turn-ed.
Today, there was no canoeing planned. So we cracked open the goon WAY too early and I got sloshed on the tiny bit of river beach that we had access to. I was the first one to get in the murky water.
The river bed was slimy under my feet for a while and then suddenly it was gone… and I had no idea what was swimming beneath me.
I figured there would be fish but then my mind ran wild.
Ah man, what if there’s leeches? Do snakes live in rivers? Do the fish have teeth? Seriously… some fish have teeth. What if I kick a rusty metal pipe?
Someone suggested that I swim to the other bank.
How about no… there’s probably definitely crocs on that side of the river.
Just a couple of minutes later a few more of the group jumped in and I was made to swim to the other side. Or lose face as king river conqueror. I wanted to kill myself. This was the most exercise I’d done in years. But I played it off, floating about in the sun… wondering when something might come up and clamp its gruesome jaws around my body a la Jurassic Park style.
I don’t remember much else of my beach experience (I wonder why…) but somehow I ended up dressed and in the camp kitchen. Guy had put all my stuff back in the van whilst I ran amok, goon cup in hand and with no shoes on.
I probably stepped on something life threatening. I am in Australia.
I sobered up somewhat just as someone mentioned collecting the crabs from the traps further down the river. And OBVIOUSLY, I had the genius idea of following two strangers into the woods to do exactly that. Collect crabs.
I was venturing into the unlit woods, with two men I didn’t know, to catch crabs.
I begged and begged the Canadian (hereafter referred to as Crabman) to let me carry the only crab we were allowed to keep into the camp. I wanted to show off this behemoth of a specimen to my other van dwellers. It was the size of my head.
I promptly dropped it on the floor.
Chaos ensued. He yelled at me for dropping his dinner on the floor, his friend got pinched by another crab and I was like, “But Mum said it’s Okay to hold crabs anywhere in the triangle!”
He kept yelling at me and asking if I wanted to end up like his friend… who was now spouting blood all over the place and clutching his hand, apparently in enough agony to bring a grown man to tears. Somehow, we managed to bash the body of the crab until it was lifeless… and no longer attached to the claw that still had a vice like grip on this poor boy’s thumb.
I’m not sure how that guy got the crab pincer off of his thumb in the end… maybe he never did.
We turned our attention back to the crab on the floor which was moving around in some sort of elaborate dance. He did not look happy.
I’m not even sure who I’m referring to when I say he. It could be any number of the males surrounding me. The crab, the boy with limited use of his thumb or Crabman.
Once things were back under control, I was allowed to have the crab back. I think I was so pathetically useless at being an Aussie bush woman that it was somewhat endearing because Crabman still picked apart the (cooked) crustacean for me to try when we were back in the kitchen.
And that is how a Canadian helped me catch crabs.
Crabman and I spent the rest of the night talking about snowboarding and other such things. I’m pretty sure he told me his full name but I can’t remember it… it’s a recurring flaw of mine. I remember him asking me to list three things about myself that he didn’t already know and I started with, “I like flowers that look like cabbages.”
At first, spending the night outside of the camper and with someone new was exciting and really appealing.
In the end, it sucked.
I spent all night staring at the ceiling of a tent, fully clothed and half covered by a sleeping bag (but still freezing) wondering how long I was supposed to stay for…
Nah. Fuck being polite. I’m going to vomit.
GOON HANGOVERS ARE THE WORST.
Just putting that out there.
I started day 2 by crawling out of Crabman’s tent on my hands and knees, clutching whatever was left of my dignity in my hand with my bikini top. My vision went from clear to black. I could feel and hear my pulse roaring in my ears.
I was blacking out, which isn’t unusual when you’re drinking, but the day after? Really?
These episodes continued for the duration of the day.
In between waves of overwhelming sickness, I canoed like no one has ever canoed before. And then I ate hangover cous cous like it was going out of fashion.
On returning to the camp, I had a shower and I went to bed. At 4PM.
I FELT FRESH.
Everyone else was hanging out of their arses.
The camp supervisor had warned us that, in the direction we were heading today, the lake can sometimes be very shallow, forcing us to climb out of our canoes and pull them across the top of the water.
He also mentioned sting rays, which can be warned off (or smacked) by bashing your paddle on the lake bed in front of you. He also said, “if you stand on a sting ray expect it to hurt.”
I had a wonderful day canoeing. We pulled up on a little sandy beach at the lake and we sunbathed, and we searched for sting rays (and we found them) and we played in the kids playground.
It was glorious.
We were still living on cous cous though.
And I was starving.
The highlight of my day was a doubled up portion of packet beef noodles, drenched in black pepper. Then I went to bed… at a very late 7.30PM.
It felt like the longest three days of my life, but I have to admit that although it was grueling (it probably wouldn’t have been if we had bought ourselves something more filling than cous cous) it was a whole lot of fun.
Although the trip was supposed to be free with an excursion we had booked for later on in our travels, we had to pay AUS$50 per person to use the canoes and there was a AUS$20 deposit (which you get back at the end providing you didn’t leave the kitchen in a state).
We had an excellent group of people on our trip, the groups that arrived before and after didn’t seem to gel as well as we did. We went on to have other trips and excursions with our group further along the coast which was nice.
OZ FRIENDS. OOO FRIEND.
If you are given an opportunity to try Gagaju Bush Camp, please do. It’s hard work, but it’s hella fun. Next up: A few relaxing days in Hervey Bay… and a speeding ticket.