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Fraser Island 'disasters' key to successful fishing trip

Fraser Island 'disasters' key to successful fishing trip

Fraser Island 'disasters' key to successful fishing trip

11 September 2017

The annual Brisbane Streetlevel Mission annual men's fishing trip is about much more than fishing (no really!). Photos: Ryan Hook.

By Lauren Martin

Getting bogged, getting lost, putting unleaded fuel into a diesel vehicle and scrambling at the last minute to meal-plan and buy food – it sounds like the makings for a disastrous holiday but, in fact, it’s those moments that make the annual Communities of Hope Fraser Island Fishing Trip so life-changing.

“The trip is full of challenges,” says NSW & ACT Divisional Communities of Hope Coordinator, Major Bryce Davies. “Things that go wrong, things that you would think are a massive disaster ... but the edginess of that creates something that I think guys love; which is this sense of adventure and this sense of risk – the fact that we do it together and we build a team and we high-five each other.” 

For the past eight years, Brisbane Streetlevel Mission has run an annual men’s fishing trip to Fraser Island. This year, the trip included a contingent from a number of Communities of Hope locations in NSW, led by Major Davies.

It’s a time of bonding, togetherness, and, of course, fishing. But underneath the hundreds of photos of smiling men holding freshly caught fish, and all the technical jargon about rods and bait and how to successfully cast a line, is a raw experience of living life alongside others in a counter-cultural way.

Those who attend are at varying stages of their journey with The Salvation Army. A number of men have been going to Fraser Island for years and are regulars at Streetlevel Mission, their changed lives now an example that there is a different way to live. Others are newer to Streetlevel. In fact, one of those who attended had indicated his willingness to go on the trip but on the morning of departure had failed to turn up.

“But one of the guys who was coming knew where he slept so he went into the bushes and woke him up and then he came along,” says Major Davies. “So, he was literally homeless and sleeping in the bush and we took him off the street and gave him a place to stay on a camping trip. So, it’s that raw.” 

Other people who were supposed to come didn’t turn up or pulled out at the last minute. One late-minute change meant that the person who was planning the meals couldn’t be there, so all the guys were scrambling to plan and shop and prepare. But, according to Major Davies, these “hiccups” are precisely why the trip is so powerful.

“It’s the fact that we resolve conflict in front of people rather than sitting them in a classroom. We deal with our anger and our frustration and our sense of betrayal and all of those sorts of things, which are key triggers and emotional hotspots for people who are in addiction, people who are homeless, people in regular life actually. But we model a way of dealing with that in the moment. It’s not theoretical, it’s actual.”

Ryan Hook, a relatively new employee of The Salvation Army’s Australia Eastern Territory’s Communications and Fundraising Team, went on the Fraser Island Fishing Trip for the first time to take photos and video footage. “I think it’s important that The Salvation Army creates community [like this] because it gives a sense of belonging, and there’s a lot of people out there who feel like they don’t belong anywhere and I think that causes a lot of issues.”

He says he witnessed how the trip impacts the lives of those who attend, including his. “I haven’t had enough time to filter it through and think about what happened,” he says. “I do feel like it had an impact on how I think about things in general, but what exactly that is, I’m not really sure at the moment.” He does know, though, that he’s keen to do more Salvation Army mission and is excited to be working in an organisation that encourages such initiatives.

More than 2000 years ago, Jesus took a bunch of fishermen and modelled what it meant to live a life of love that ran at odds with the culture of the times. It’s still happening today, and the Fraser Island Fishing Trip is a good example of Christ’s love in action leading to changed lives.

Oh, and for those who are interested in the actual fishing? Around 156 fish were caught. And NSW took home the “State of Origin” fishing trophy. There is no doubt many more intricate and highly important details that this writer failed to include, and if you’ve got an hour or two, Major Bryce Davies would be happy to fill you in!

 

 

 

 

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