After over a month spent in Australia, seeing mainly just cities and beaches, we were craving something different…a new adventure with new experiences. And that is exactly what we found at Gagaju Bush Camp, just half an hour’s drive out of central Noosa.
We were picked up from Noosa bus station by Alan, the resident chef at Gagaju, and taken to the supermarket to get supplies for the three days we’d be at the camp. After our shop we soon arrived in what seemed like the middle of nowhere and were introduced to Kelly, Alan’s wife (she’s the one that really runs the show), and shown around the camp’s grounds before getting all checked in.
The camp itself is an incredible place, all sand and tents and huts…exactly what you want for a back to basics few days. The toilet and shower block leave something to be desired (the toilet is basically just a hole in the ground), but it’s a campsite, what do you expect!? In the two main huts are the TV lounge (with DVD player and a very large collection of DVDs) and the kitchen. The kitchen is excellently equipped with an oven, plenty of hobs and kitchenware, and enough seating and space for everyone to eat together. Just make sure you do your washing up and put everything away, or else Alan gets MAAAAD! At the other end of the kitchen is a pool table and there are plenty of other games too…theres a fantastic vibe about the camp and you’ll always find someone to chat to or play cards with, or just hang out around the campfire! Alan and Kelly’s awesome 6-year-old son, Adam, is always about too, playing games with all the backpackers.
On the eve of our arrival we just chilled out and chatted to our new friends who had arrived with us…they’d be in our canoeing group for the next two days. We also couldn’t really be bothered to cook that night, so we took Alan (a professional chef) up on his offer of burger burritos and a beer for $10…he cooks something different every night and you can opt in or out as you please…delicious!
That night we slept in dorms with all the other new arrivals. When I say dorms, I mean home made bunk beds that are kind of more like hammocks with solid sides. So if you sleep on your back, they’re probably the most comfortable things ever. I, however do not sleep on my back, so it was a strange night’s sleep to say the least!
It was an early start on Wednesday, as we had a briefing about what we would be doing over the next few days, before setting out in the canoes. We were a group of 16 (spread across 6 boats), all of whom were very nice and it made for a great day out. We canoed about 5km up the river until we got to a lake, then went a further 3km across the very choppy waters…there were a few hairy moments – the funniest being when we got stuck on a sandbank and had to wiggle about and push with our paddles in order to free ourselves! About 2 hours after we’d set off from camp we finally reached our destination, a little stretch of totally uninhabited beach…pure bliss. We hung out there for a few hours, just lounging around in the sun and playing in the water, while some of the others went for a walk to find a pub we’d been told about. Then it was back into the canoes to find a creek and rope swing for some more water fun before heading back to camp…that last hour of canoeing was like torture, no one spoke, everyone just had their heads down and prayed we got there soon…we probably canoed about 20km that day!
In the evening, after sorting out our tents for the next two nights and having showers in the dubious and mosquito-ridden bathrooms, we cooked some dinner and just chilled out by the fire with our new friends, chatting and playing cards, much like the evening before. We were all pretty exhausted so most of us were in bed by about 10:30!
On Thursday we were to head the other way down the river to another lake. Our group had dwindled in size a bit due to various ailments…from sunburn to ankle injuries, so this time we were only spread across 4 boats, making it much easier to all stay together (one of Alan’s main stipulations on our self led trip). We canoed for only about an hour this time before reaching the other side of the lake and the clearing where we left our boats. Then it was half an hour’s walk to the beach which, much to our disappointment, was not the beauty that Alan had described it as…the sand was grey and the sea was really foamy. But it was a good afternoon lounging in the shade all the same…man, was it hot in the sun! After a few hours it was time to head back to camp…the walk back to the boats seemed to take forever in the mid-afternoon heat, but fortunately it only took us about 45 minutes to canoe back…the wind was on our side this time! The evening took the shape of the two nights before, just watching movies and relaxing after the last two days of constant activity…I was fast asleep in my tent at about 9pm!
On Friday morning we slept in (or as much as you can in a tent with no pillow or proper mattress) and got our stuff together at a leisurely pace, before saying goodbye to the people staying on a bit longer and then heading back into Noosa to catch our bus to Rainbow Beach.
Our stay at Gagaju was as part of a deal with Wicked Travel when we booked our upcoming Fraser Island and Whitsundays packages (the same as a lot of people we met there), meaning that we paid only $50 for the three days and three nights, a pretty excellent price if you ask me…it’s an awesome way to spend a few days. You’ll meet some great people, eat fantastic food and get away from the norm…it’s definitely worth the trip!