Fraser’s castaway caretakers isolated in paradise
KEVIN Hockey – currently marooned on a nearly deserted Fraser Island during uncertain times – is feeling a lot like the famous Tom Hanks Castaway character Chuck Noland.
“If anyone has got a Wilson volleyball they could send over that would be great,” he joked yesterday, referring to the ball in the popular movie which becomes Chuck’s friend.
Unlike Tom Hanks in real life, who recently departed Australian shores after recovering from COVID-19, Mr Hockey is hoping his forced isolation on Fraser Island will keep coronavirus at bay.
Kevin and his wife Adele left their Brisbane home four years ago in a motorhome to travel Australia.
On March 4 this year, they began work as caretakers of a group of holiday homes on Fraser Island’s eastern side at Poyungan Rocks just before coronavirus restrictions closed the island’s campsites on March 25.
The island’s resorts have also been closed.
Now effectively stranded on the idyllic island – which usually hosts up to 14,000 visitors over Easter – they are keeping themselves busy with maintenance on the holiday homes and checking the tide times so they can go fishing.
“There’s lots of weed here at the moment so it’s hard to do much fishing but we can fish for whiting and bream in the low tide and the gutters,” Kevin said.
“And we’re cooking that for dinner – fish and salad, fish curries, and fish and chips.
“It’s really good except for when Adele keeps catching more fish than me!
“We’re probably both introverted so we’re okay in our space but we also enjoy being with other people.”
Mr and Mrs Hockey have been able to have socially distanced interactions with the few others left on the island, including shopkeepers, rangers, police and the skeleton crew of staff and maintenance workers at the island’s resorts, but all visitors are currently banned until May 31.
“We’re sad – we don’t want it to be this way and we would rather it was open and visitors could come and enjoy the place,” Mr Hockey said.
“But if we had to be in lockdown then we’ve probably picked one of the best spots on the planet!”
Kevin and Adele write travel blogs for their website, indefiniteleave.com.au, and private message fellow travellers or those who are planning a trip and seeking advice.
Kevin and Adele had planned to work on the island until new caretakers arrived at the end of July, but those caretakers are in South Africa and unsure when they can fly out.
“If they can’t then we’re in a position to stay on and keep it maintained,” Kevin said.
Kevin and Adele – who have been married for 31 years – said they decided to travel around Australia because of the stress and “daily grind” of life.
“We just felt there had to be more to life than going to work five days a week, mowing the grass on the weekend, doing chores and then doing it all over again,” Kevin said.
He said he had noticed many more families taking a year out to travel with their children.
“Children only ever want one thing from their parents and that’s their time – they don’t have the stresses of work and home when they’re on the road,” he said.
“They sit with kids and teach them how to go fishing and set up camp and the kids learn so much.”
He said for now, they were content to continue with their work and wait for restrictions to be relaxed.
“Here on the island, it’s not like the normal Fraser Island,” he said.
Kevin said they are well stocked with food, and would not need to leave the island for fresh supplies.
“Thanks to Adele catching all the fish we’ve been able to stretch it out a bit. We’re very isolated but we won’t need to leave the island,” he said.