The Robinson Crusoe Tropical Experience on the Haggerstone Island

The Robinson Crusoe Tropical Experience on the Haggerstone Island

Haggerstone #Island, located on the Great Barrier Reef, of Queensland, #Australia is the perfect location to #relax and #explore! I stayed in a remarkable hut, went #snorkelling, ate amazing fish; including mangrove jack (delicious), saw crocodiles and much more!


You don’t need to be shipwrecked to join Australia’s answer to the Swiss Family Robinson on their Coral Sea idyll.

The ‘desert island’ has often been explored in literature and film depicting people who are marooned on a tropical island. As a result of the experience, they either discover a utopia or fall apart big-time. 

The jetty
The jetty

Haggerstone Island

This quintessential island paradise, is almost too good to be true, and the real-life story of the Turner family who live there is as remarkable as the most imaginative fiction. “Haggerstone is just a beautiful island and we’ve tried to build things in a beautiful way,” Roy Turner says simply. With courage and a measure of idealism, Roy and Anna Turner bought Haggerstone around 30 years ago when it was uninhabited and covered by jungle. 

Roy and Anna Turner bought Haggerstone around 30 years ago when it was uninhabited and covered by jungle

Initially living in tents, they caught fish and grew vegetables to survive. Their vegetable garden is now a cornucopia of riches, and the tents have been replaced by a collection of extraordinary buildings. 

To the jetty
To the jetty

The central lodge, The Pavilion, is a supremely practical design for the special requirements of life so near the equator, just off the east coast of Queensland’s Cape York. But, at the same time, there is almost an atmosphere of unreality about it, as if the designer’s imagination has run free and the ‘fantastic’ has been made real. Complete with coconut palms, an aqua lagoon and its own pristine fringing coral reef, Haggerstone is a picture-book tropical hideaway.

coconut palms, an aqua lagoon and its own pristine fringing coral reef, Haggerstone is a picture-book tropical hideaway

It is blessed with brilliant sandy beaches where turtles nest, an astonishing abundance of lush plants and the bewildering diversity of marine life of the Great Barrier Reef.

Welcome to Haggerstone Island, an idyllic world created by the Turner family
Welcome to Haggerstone Island, an idyllic world created by the Turner family

Roy and Anna are impressive people. With his restless energy, Roy’s life story fuses Ernest Hemingway, Keith Richards and Crocodile Dundee. 

With his restless energy, Roy’s life story fuses Ernest Hemingway, Keith Richards and Crocodile Dundee

As a teenager, he left the Victorian sheep farm of his childhood to join a band playing in Papua New Guinea. He then became a crocodile hunter, adventurer and more recently a renowned designer/builder. Roy’s skills and talents seem to span the practical (builder, plumber, gardener, fisherman, chef, sailor, furniture-maker) as well as the more interpretive arts of sculpting and wood carving. 

Fishing
Fishing

Unsurprisingly, he is a fabulous raconteur with few subjects off limit, and affectionately recounts stories of blood-curdling adventures and close escapes. In comparison to the robust exuberance of her husband, Anna exudes a beauty and sensitivity that serves to round out the couple. Though Australian, she grew up in the United Kingdom and her accent derives from her early years in an English boarding school. While looking for the wreck of the Pandora with her film-maker father John Heyer, she had stood on Haggerstone’s beach at the age of 19, never dreaming that one day it would become her home. When you stay on Haggerstone, you are essentially staying ‘with’ the Turner family. 

While your accommodation is private and secluded, you eat and drink with them, laugh with them, fish with them and will get to know them, and they are the ideal hosts for a stopover in paradise.

Paradise
Paradise

Food & Accomodation

In the epitome of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle; seafood caught from the waters surrounding Haggerstone can be served that evening with home-grown coconut (ground into cream) and herbs in the rustic pavilion. 

One of the accommodation options is the secluded Beach Hut with its ‘al fresco’ bathroom. The Tree House accommodates staff members.

By night
By night

The staff who help out on the island, describe Anna and Roy as “amazing cooks but totally different.” 

Dinner
Dinner

“Anna can feed 20 people with a pot of something that blows you away; a French casserole or a Thai curry,” she says. “Roy has ‘fanfare dishes,’ lots of frantic chopping and ingredients suddenly coming together. He does amazing food on the boat. A fish that was flapping an hour ago is suddenly sashimi or done in beer batter, or Thai soup, or prawns in cream and white wine, the food is stunning.” 

A fish that was flapping an hour ago is suddenly sashimi or done in beer batter, or Thai soup

In the epitome of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, a crayfish speared at sea can be cooked with freshly picked chilli, lemon grass and kaffir limes, and coconut cream that Gina has ground from trees on the island.

from  $3,466

7 Days on Haggerstone Island

ActiveAspirational
 Haggerston Island, Queensland, Australia
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The accommodation is even more remarkable. There are three unique and appealing huts for guests, each sleeping two adults or a family of three to four. 

The Lagoon Hut has an expansive deck to enjoy the sea view. Named after its timber, the Kwila Hut features a collection of Papua New Guinean artifacts. 

Named after its timber, the Kwila Hut features a collection of Papua New Guinean artifacts
Hut
Hut

The Beach Hut, the most secluded and rustic of them all, is fashioned largely from driftwood with large shutters opening onto the wilderness and a separate shower and toilet under the coconut palms.

from  $577

Beach Hut

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The Beach Hut, the most secluded and rustic of them all

Bathroom
Bathroom

Meals are enjoyed in the pavilion. 

The open-air bar offers respite after all the outdoor activities, and is a perfect place to mingle with the family and other guests.
The open-air bar offers respite after all the outdoor activities, and is a perfect place to mingle with the family and other guests.

With a library, couches, bar, kitchen and two bathrooms, the 350-square-metre building is an architectural tour de force, known as a ‘haus win’ or a ‘house with no walls’. An Indonesian-style thatched roof over a massive central beam of oregon timber is supported by 10-metre turpentine poles. 

The hut
The hut

Everything is slightly oversized, even the furniture and fittings of Daintree teak encourage a feeling of childlike awe at its daring and scale.

Location:

Haggerstone Island is about 10km south-east of Cape Grenville off the east coast of Cape York Peninsula. 

Flying in
Flying in

Getting there: 

Take a two-hour flight by charter plane (or charter a helicopter) from Cairns International Airport, landing at neighbouring Hicks Island. The boat transfer to Haggerstone from Hicks is about 20 minutes.

What’s included:

All accommodation, meals, fishing, snorkelling and excursions are included but drinks are additional.

To make the mosof it:

Bring sunscreen, sunhat, casual clothes, deck shoes, camera and a sense of adventure. 

Any time from mid-March until the end of January is the best to come to avoid the tropical wets. 

From above
From above

“A lot of people come here for the attractions of a resort. But you’ve got adventure land out there with a backyard bigger than the south of England,” says Roy, pointing to the sea beyond. “Last week we had to feed a croc so that we could get in to go fishing.” On Haggerstone, you can take it easy with a pleasant stroll, birdwatch, read or just relax. Children love it and, according to Gina, most adults enjoy the excitement of being somewhere a little wild.

most adults enjoy the excitement of being somewhere a little wild

“People come here to be scared a bit,” she says. “It’s like falling off the edge of the world but doing it in comfort.” Fishing is the most popular activity on Haggerstone, whether it’s in the deep sea, over a shipwreck, a pinnacle or a shoal. After the thrill of the chase to catch red emperor, coral trout, trevally, tuna or queenfish, Roy returns surplus fish to the sea. River fishing for barramundi, fingermark and mangrove jack (the most delicious fish in the world, according to Roy) provide an adrenalin rush of a different kind, as this is crocodile country. 

this is crocodile country

“All part of the attraction,” Roy says.

You can dive for crays with a spear gun or just snorkel in the pristine coral reefs. “Diving is amazing,” Gina says. “You can be in a school of blue fish swirling around you like a vortex. I even saw two huge dugongs last week.” Roy has built a charming jetty from 80-year-old weathered timbers with a thatched roof that reaches into the blue of the lagoon. It is the island’s ‘signature,’ a place of tranquillity and beauty. 

Marine life is so plentiful that, from the end of the jetty, you are likely to see a multitude of fish, turtles and stingrays in just a few minutes. “It’s an incredible place to be,” Roy says.

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