High school trip to North West Island, Great Barrier Reef
Waves have eloquence. They bring to shore the stories of faraway lands and depths of ocean. They are whisperers of news while they wash the shore. The tide brings tidings to this island, 75 kilometres from her mainland neighbours though only a turtle swim to nearby masthead.
You might think, being an island in the midst of big seas that it would be a quiet existence but days are bustling with the come and go of noddies, pairing and nest building, raising their chicks. And under the pearly light of moon, the shearwaters nourish their young, calling comfort to each other in ethereal cries. And turtles heave themselves shoreward, sighing heavily with the labour of digging a safe haven in which to leave their eggs.
Then there are the visitors to the island. Firstly Ella, graceful and slender as the beach Casuarina. She is the ARTIST, painting the ever changing dance of light on the water. She turns a walk into a work of art and wearing a dress into an occasion.
Then there is Bella, the ADVENTURER, whether setting off solely around the island at sunrise or in writing a pithy song. There is a love of life in Bella and a craving for experience to match the boldest pirate of long ago.
Sashka is the NURTURER and CELEBRATOR of life. Gentle, generous soul. The footprints she leaves on this island will linger, a memory of one who came and opened her mind and heart.
Olive is the POET, navigator of rich inner worlds. She invites her companions to ride with her the highs and lows of her island “wuthering”. Watch out! I have heard her cackle in the moonlight!
Gali is the PROBLEM SOLVER. Every group needs one. He is the human version of the swiss army knife. His mind is the gadget for every tricky situation, physical and emotional. He builds friendship bridges and when they are tested by storms he builds then again.
Oscar is the COMMEDIAN. Spontaneous, playful and always sharpening his wit on the funny side of life. Like any comedian worth his salt! He is a little bit wise beneath the waves of humour. ….So is that what it means to be a “wise crack”?
Lem is the SHAMAN. He names what he sees going on, not always tactfully. Charming, unpredictable and sometimes a little scary, he demands respect. And he is the one you go to when there is serious heavy lifting to be done.
Willow is the DEVOTEE of life. She is the amazed, wonder filled exclaimer of life. “OH MY LORD!” she says. She is also braveheart – facing her fears and standing up adamantly for herself.
And then there is Dan, the MAGICIAN. Player of cards and man of tricks, revealer of nature’s treasures and dissolver of boundaries. Man of many guises, man with Frisbee, man with a sea star in his hand, man with the child alive in his whole being.
Then there is me, pull and tug like a tide, insistent as a sunrise, believer in mermaids, sharing the wisdom from the book of nature, lifting the veil on that which is beholden in the heart’s eye.
The island has been generous host to us all. We guests leave her table, appetites sated. We have experienced her boundless beauty and the rich intricacy of life on the reef. We are in deep gratitude for her existence. We leave the island with a clearer understanding amongst each other, 8 days on an island has its challenges; from the isolation, minimalist camping, facing fears, to the social cohesion of the group.
As for me, the island has become a friend to call up when I need some nourishing. I’m leaving her my number, one day she may have need of it and I will without hesitation, be there for her.