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Mateship, adventure and a sense of belonging on Fraser Island fishing trip

Brisbane Streetlevel volunteer John Allen enjoying a sunset fish with the men during this year’s Fraser Island fishing expedition.

Every year for the past 10 years (apart from a two-year break due to COVID), men from The Salvation Army’s Brisbane Streetlevel Mission have taken a one-week 4WD fishing trip to Fraser Island, Queensland.

We link with another group of men connected to Peter Janetzki and his church and have strong bonds with many of these guys who have taught us and supported us over the years.

This year, 16 guys and one female came along, and for a whole week, we were immersed in the vast variety and beauty of the world’s largest sand Island. It is truly a remarkable place – freshwater lakes and streams, rainforests and seemingly endless stretches of wide, sun-drenched beaches.

Many of the guys had never been to the island before; for some, this was the first holiday experience they had had since childhood. Instantly, the sense of support and camaraderie was evident as we worked together to set up tents, arrange food for the week, and organise rods and tackle for significant beach fishing sessions. We caught heaps of good-sized fish and ate like kings.

Major Bryce Davies and Hans Van Der Vlist on the fishing trip.

Every day, we sat together as a group and shared our highlights from the day before. Many shared about the friendship and the fun and banter of the group. There was always a comment about the sense of awe – found in the sunsets and the sunrise, the vast sky and surging ocean, the breaching whales and the soaring eagles.

People appreciated the service offered to each other, such as preparing amazing meals, teaching guys how to cast or bait hooks or just making a coffee and sharing a chocolate.

We planned out our days – learning to cooperate and accommodate each other and ensuring everyone had a great time.

We had time to have significant conversations together as we sat on the beach or around a fire at night. I recall many significant chats about important issues and found the environment and the context lent itself to vulnerability as there was plenty of time to listen and share deeply.

For many of the guys who attend this trip, it is by far the highlight of their year. They love the mateship, the adventure and the authentic sense of belonging and connection to the Salvos. The love felt within the group was palpable.

This event undoubtedly helps some of our most vulnerable and marginalised people feel hope and confidence in the Christian way of life and in the people of The Salvation Army.

One of the participants was Lawrence Besant, a Salvos Outreach Worker at Villawood Pathways mission in Sydney. Read his reflections on the Fraser Island fishing trip here.

Inspecting some of the day’s catch before cooking them up for dinner.


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