DAY 326: Marooned on my own island

24 Jul

“OUT of interest, what are you going to do on Shark Island?” the skipper of the Captain Cook Cruises boat smirks. I’ve just picked the joint at random, back at the ferry terminal at Circular Quay, and handed over my twenty bucks.

From the distance, Shark Island looks to be a lump of rock with a couple of trees on it. It’s a good thing I brought a book.

While Shark Island’s a popular wedding location (I find the odd champagne cork), it’s a 250m-long, deserted beauty spot all other times. Today I’m the sole inhabitant, and I let loose with a couple of cartwheels as the boat pulls away. It’s mine alone for two whole hours. I can’t find my lighter, but never mind, never mind.

Over the next couple of hours, I entertain all my childhood Swallows and Amazons fantasies. I duck a fence and go for a paddle, which is English for wading, and find a bit of ancient crockery. I scratch my name on the bulbous sandstone formations with a jagged shard of clay (the forensics team will find that, should it emerge I’m not alone on the island after all), pick a path between aloe vera plants and palms, sit among the oyster shells on the beach, and plot the various routes out of here if I had to make a break for it (top choice: swimming to nearest buoy and sitting sheepishly on it).

Between 1879 and 1975, Shark Island was used as both an animal quarantine station and a naval depot, which explains the sinister, dilapidated stone buildings dotted around. I feel a lot like I’m being watched – you can’t tell me those rich kids in Rose Bay across the way don’t all have telescopes – but this is without doubt the best way to spend an afternoon in Sydney, or anywhere ever. And luckily the skipper remembers to pick me up again.

Keeper? Yes. I don’t reckon I’d go mad alone on an island, either. Not like Tom Hanks.

%d bloggers like this: