Item 5 – Googa Experience & my own near death experience

I arrived at Moreton Island today at about 2:45pm.  Moreton Island was chosen for a few very specific reasons.  1.  I have never been there despite spending more than 50% of my life living within 10 minutes of Moreton Bay.  2.  It would be impossible to tap out in the middle of the night as I needed a ferry to get there and back.  3.  It is right out of my comfort zone as it contains all things that I find abhorrent and meddlesome, i.e. sand on things, midges (biting insects that like sand), ants and drop toilets.

Ben declared that my packing skills were way over the top and that I had enough gear with me to last a week.  I am happy to have proven him wrong.  Every item that I packed, which was meticulously planned 5 minutes prior to departure, was used and appreciated.  The only things that did not get used were my camp fan and first aide kit and they are two essential items that I never go camping without.  In fact, I’d prefer to forget clean drinking water than my camp fan.

My plan to abstain from making friends was thrown into pandemonium when I discovered a whole heap of backpackers on the barge.  Luckily I managed to circumvent camping anywhere near them to avoid the temptation of joining in their frivolous activities.  Ben thinks I’m having a midlife crisis.  Maybe I am.  But turning 40 is a big deal and there are a LOT of things that I’ve always wanted to do and have never done.

Despite having been extensively trained in tent erection by Rohan, I still struggled to get it done.  Which was the inner?  Which was the outer?  Which was the fly? Why is there only two bits of material? Where do the pegs go? Were does the one pole go???  Eventually, after about half an hour and a lot of swearing I was all set up.  I could not have been prouder of myself if the tent had had more than one pole!!

I went for a walk along the beach, snapped some photos and then retreated back to my campsite to read my kindle.  I’m currently reading a book about William Shakespeare and I am learning an awful lot.  Most of what I’m learning is that what I thought I knew about him is only conjecture as there is hardly any surviving information about him.  In fact, we aren’t even sure what he looks like.  Of the three likenesses we have of him 2 were done years after his death by people who did not know him and the third is a painting that has been discovered by someone or other that perhaps could be Shakespeare, or perhaps could be someone else entirely from that era.

Dinner was a greek salad and then I decided to go to bed at 6pm so that I could arise early and go hiking to find more animals.  6pm is waay too early for me to go to bed.  I was hoping that my book on Shakespeare would put me to sleep but it is hilariously funny.  At 8pm I decided I needed to pull out the big guns – sleeping tablets.

The sleeping pills I took were obtained in the UK.  Fun fact – England hands out drugs like they are lollies. You can buy super strength sleeping pills, original sudafed (without showing ID and being interrogated like you are perhaps are a druggy) and you can still purchase panadeine and nurofen plus – ALL OVER THE COUNTER – no script required.  It’s almost like England trusts their citizens not to become drug abusers or dependants.  Needless to say I came back from England with a small supply of each.

By 10pm I was still awake so decided to google exactly what was in these miraculous sleeping tablets I obtained in the UK.  Do you know what I found out??? They contain diphenhydramine – which is basically the Australian version of original Benadryl (without the delightful taste that brings back so many childhood memories).  No wonder they weren’t working on me.  I remember being given liquid Benadryl by the soup spoonful as a child to make me sleep….  ahem…  I mean – when I had a cold.  I probably have a super high tolerance to that drug.  Just to be sure I took 2 more.

By 11pm I was batshit bored and hungry.  My greek salad and blueberries had barely touched the edges and I couldn’t for the life of me find my Malteasers.  So I opened a packet of Sweet Potato Crisps instead.  You know, the purple ones you get from the health food isle at Woolies and Coles?  Can’t remember their proper name at the moment.  I happily ate away at them whilst still reading my book on Shakespeare.

This is when the absolute WORST thing happened – I almost died.  What I haven’t mentioned about my Shakespeare book is that it is written by my favourite author, Bill Bryson, who can make ANYTHING seem funny.  With a mouthful of crisps I read a single sentence and immediately burst out laughing.  Big mistake.  Within seconds I was choking on my chips, coughing and gasping for air.  There was no one around to hear my raspy attempts at coughing or could hear me yelling out.  I was banging on my chest and spluttering.  My life literally flashed before my eyes.  I could see my own tombstone reading “Here lies Bianca Davis who choked to death on a sweet potato crisp whilst reading Shakespeare alone on an island”.  Finally after coughing and coughing I could feel it coming back up.  I grabbed the nearest bag (which just happened to be the bag containing ALL my food) and spewed.  A whole heap of sweet potato chips, a couple of undigested blueberries and a sleeping tablet came flooding out.  This is the first time I have been happy about Cole’s new super strength ‘reusable’ bags.  At least they don’t leak or tear easy.

Relieved that I was no longer about to die on my own, leaving my children motherless at such a young age.  I decided not to go outside my tent again incase I ran into any serial killers (I listen to too many true crime podcasts).  It’s fine to joke about your own mortality but when you come face to face with death it’s not joking matter.  Besides, choking to death on a sweet potato crisp would not make a good true crime podcast (unless they surmised that someone came in and killed me by force feeding chips to me then making me laugh – or prosecuted Bill Bryson for turning such a lame subject ,William Shakespeare, into a book of such hysteria).  Because of my decision to tie up my food bag (subsequently saying goodbye to tomorrows food supplies) and NOT venture out to find a bin, I was forced to sleep next to my own vomit.

The smell of vomit must have reached every animal on the island (of which I found few during waking hours) as for the next hour I could not sleep as I could hear them all outside my tiny tent discussing, in their tiny squeaky high pitched languages and scratches, how best to obtain such a delightful smelling substance.

Worried that my sleeping tablet was vomited up I took another and then recorded a FB message for my family incase the animals made it in to my tent and ravished on my body, comatose from too much Benadryl (original).

I think I finally managed to go to sleep at about 3:00am.

I woke the next morning at about 10:30 and felt like I had a MASSIVE Benadryl hangover.    In fact, I’m surprised that I did wake up.  It was only the faint memory that I still had a second packet of blueberries in the esky and a packet of tic tacs in my handbag that drove me out of bed.

Determined to not let my dreadful night spoil my experience I packed up most of my stuff and set off on a ‘hike’. Basically I wandered up and down the beaches snapping photos of things I found of interest.  The most exercise I did was climb 1 metre up a sandhill to take a photo of the water from behind a pink banksia (totally worth the climb).  Unfortunately, during this climb I lost my phone.  I did not realise that my phone was missing for another 30 minutes which meant I had to frantically retrace my steps.

Deciding that the most likely place it fell out of my pocket was when I climbed 1m up a sand hill I spent a good 20 minutes digging in the sand but AMAZINGLY – I found it!!  I was so happy!!!  Second crisis of the trip averted.

I am now cozily sitting on the ferry on my way back to reality and I’m totally glad I had this experience – albeit 24 years late and slightly different.

Being completely alone with yourself is very cathartic and something that I rarely get to experience.  I am always so busy with a million things and even a walk with the kids is peppered with numerous questions (mostly from Rohan) about animals, what he can eat, where we are going, when can he buy a new silkie etc.  I remember our trip through the Daintree rainforests was met with a lot of groans every time I stopped to take photos of something I found of interest (usually tree fungus).  To this day I maintain those photos are creative genius.  In fact, I will link them to the bottom of this page.

Being able to enjoy your own company is a skill which I have never had and after these last 24 hours I would say that I am getting there.  I definitely want to do it again.  Next time I might only take soft foods though.

I almost forgot!!  A good travel writer is supposed to tell you about the place they visited. I traveled to Moreton Island on a ferry called Micat.  It was the cheapest and pulled up directly in front of where I wanted to camp, a place called the ‘Wrecks’.  I was hoping to be able to regale you all with a tale about the wrecks much like the tale of the Batavia (mutiny, torture, lost fortunes from 100’s of years ago) but alas, I found that the ‘Wrecks’ were purposely dumped there to create some kind of barrier for small ships.  Coral is starting to grow on them so divers are pleased.  But it is still just another example of humans dumping their waste and then declaring it a place of natural beauty.

The history of the island reads like most of Australia’s history.  It was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous Australians before being happened upon by Captain Cook, who erroneously claimed it was connected to the mainland and called it Cape Morton despite it having already been named for thousands of years – Moorgumpin by the traditional owners.  It wasn’t until 9 years later that Matthew Flinders discovered it was actually an island, not part of the mainland and changed it’s name from Cape Morton to Moreton Island (I guess spelling wasn’t his strength).  European settlements happened not long after, in order for  the white folk to have a good place to hunt and kill whales, and disputes between the Europeans and Indigenous owners of the land ensued.  Gradually this led to most of the 100 strong Ngugi people being killed or driven out.

The site of the whaling station, where 600 whales were slaughtered annually, is now known as the luxurious Tangalooma Resort.  This is where tourists or people without 4WD’s can visit the island for an exorbitant price.

Those of you with 4WD I would highly recommend using Micat and coming over for a weekend or even longer.  Most of the people on the Island, outside of the restricted ex-whaling station now known as Tangalooma, are grown up Fogans and are really lovely and extremely helpful.  If you are wondering what a ‘Fogan’ is, it is another term I coined (honestly, with the amount of terms I am coining lately I will go down in history as second to only William Shakespeare with gracing the English language with more words) you can find a description of the term here:

Just before I sign off and post this baby to FB I will also give you another snippet of information that I learned on my solo adventure.  Moreton Island is the worlds 3rd biggest sand Island.  Due to it being impenetrable (by me, I was not climbing sand dunes) I would suggest taking a 4wd and exploring.  I really want to come back as there are descriptions of some simply stunning places and as I arrived on foot, I was really restricted to a very small area without having to hike for miles.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blogs.  I am still working on getting more than 7 views a day so every share or like helps.

Love B xx.

Here are my pics of tree fungus and rainforests FYI. I maintain these are creative photographic genius: