You always think that tropical islands are something that happens to other people. And yet earlier this year, I found out I was lucky enough to be able to visit North West Island – a tropical island in the Capricornia Islands about 6 hours off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
Right now, I’m sitting in a house in Hervey Bay in Queensland – an awesome place to visit in itself. In the early hours of Saturday morning, I’ll be jumping onto a ferry (that looks like a glorified version of the troop transports used in the Normandy landings) and setting sail for the island.
The island itself is just 1km² and approximately bugger-all above sea level. If a tsunami approaches, we’ll only be able to run inland for 500 metres before we start running back outland again. Hell, if a 2 metre wave approaches it’s brown-trouser time.
Luckily, most waves are broken up by the coral reef. From the beach, we’ll be able to walk for 400 metres through 2 feet deep water along the top of the reef until we hit the sudden drop-off. I can’t explain this to you if you haven’t seen Finding Nemo.
You know that bit where the school field trip group arrives at the edge of the coral reef and there’s a big drop-off? That’s what it’s like. And, just like in the movie, this is where you’ll find sharks. Not playful ‘I’m trying to act tough but I’m only the size of a cod’ sharks but big whopping proper ‘I don’t need to act tough because most things get out of the way for a 12 foot length of muscle with teeth at one end’ sharks.
Things that can kill you
Here’s a short extract from Wikipedia on the bull shark:
The bull shark is named for its well known unpredictable, often aggressive behaviour. Since bull sharks often dwell in shallow waters, they may be more dangerous to humans than any other species of shark, and, along with tiger sharks and great white sharks, are among the three shark species most likely to attack humans. They have been known to hunt in pairs and can suddenly accelerate and perform acts of aggression. Bull sharks are highly territorial, attacking anything that comes into their territory.
And if the bull shark doesn’t get you, you have the perhaps more embarrassing death-by-octopus scenario. The blue ringed octopus, while small, is ‘perhaps one of the most venomous animals in the world’.
Wikipedia doesn’t hold back:
The blue-ringed octopus pounce on their prey, paralyse them with venom and use their beaks to tear off pieces. They then suck out the flesh from the victim’s exoskeleton.
And I’m not even going to mention the jellyfish and mere cone shells that can cause you pain.
All of these dangers actually add a bit of spice to the island. A tropical island that has no wildlife that wants to kill you is not a tropical island. It’s the Isle of Man. You need a taste of the wilderness to add something unique to your adventures. I hope that I see at least 3 things that could kill me while on the island, and coconuts falling from trees doesn’t count.
In the meantime, I’m sitting in Hervey Bay keeping an eye on the weather forecast. Rain and wind so far.
Obviously I won’t be logging onto the internet while on the island so I’ll post an update and photos on my return. For now, I’ll leave you with this …
A survival guide to Brisbane Airport
- Brisbane airport is quite large. Transport between the domestic and international terminals costs AU$5 by train or bus but if you’re flying on Qantas, show the T-Bus driver your ticket and you can get on the bus for free.
- You can check-in to your next flight a maximum of 6 hours before boarding so check your bags in and then you can walk around freestyle.
- Checking your bags in early is also a good plan because the money-thieving mafia bosses that run Brisbane airport charge you AU$4 to hire a trolley. They purposefully built the airport to be very long and thin to maximise the distance you’ll have to drag your bags because you’re too tight to pay $4 for a trolley.
- If you’re at the airport for any length of time, jump back on the T-Bus and you’ll get a free ten minute ride to the DFO – a large indoor mall of outlet stores with some nice cafes.
- When going through customs, declare that all your footwear has been used near grass, farms and dying animals. You’ll get every piece of footwear cleaned for free.
- Don’t forget that you’re in Australia. Ensure you arrive at the airport wearing some form of Kiwiana. I chose a ‘Flight of the Conchords’ t-shirt to remind the locals of New Zealand’s awesome influence in the novelty comedy band industry.
While writing this, I had a phone call from some members of our group that are already on the island. They proudly report that the rain has destroyed 40% of the camp and they have lost two people while snorkelling due to the heavy rain reducing visibility. Sounds like an adventure to me!