Apple of our isle

WORDS: Bridget Daley PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

Former Gold Coast radio star Bridget ‘Bridge’ Daley has gone from a top-rating breakfast radio show to life off-grid in the pristine and untamed wilderness of Tasmania.

FAMOUS author and poet Henry David Thoreau, wrote about his spiritual voyage, isolated in nature, and said it best: “The savage in man is never quite eradicated.”

Humans have an innate cellular sense to awaken their savageness. The call for me was deafening and a powerful force that was unwise to deny. Luckily for me, my soulmate, bestie and husband, Jamie, felt the same.

It’s interesting to ponder that we are all one decision away from a completely different life. We made that one choice – and it wasn’t easy. It was a military operation decision and carefully planned chaos that’s still an unfolding adventure.

I’ll paint the picture of where I’m scribing this story. I’m sitting on my vintage, lime-green wrought iron seat, perched on top of a behemoth granite outcrop, next to a metallic blue Bedford school bus on the summit of a 200m-high mountain on an island off an island off an island.

The most asked question I receive is how did I go from a career in breakfast radio on the Gold Coast to this pristine and untamed wilderness, living an off-grid life?

Chapter 1: Finding our savage land

 Jamie and I have always been avid campers. I used to own a 1979 V8 Sandman Panel Van and when I was single, any chance I got I would high tail it out of suburbia with my two pooches, escaping in the gurgling, bitumen-eating beast and into the belly of nature. Oh and I do get the irony of an environmentally unsound vehicle in the pureness of nature!

The beginning of COVID kick-started our Plan B. Like many people, we thought life had to be more than this? This virus abruptly changed life as we knew it. We wanted to stare it down and give it the middle finger. We wanted a five-year plan, to be in a position where we could grapple, tackle our way out of its clutches and find a freedom that wasn’t affected by some new government order.

The dream was to acquire a large slice of God’s country, where we could build an off-grid, sustainable and mindful existence. To strip back the layers like Magic Mike in a jockstrap!

After many hours of exhaustive searching, we found our dream on Flinders Island. Think Yellowstone meets the Galápagos Islands! The largest in the Furneaux Island group, Flinders Island is 1367 stunning square kilometres, bathing in Bass Strait, North East of Tasmania.

Our lot is 500 magical acres of pristine wilderness that encompasses a mountain and surrounding dense bushland. The 360-degree view from its summit is breathtaking and encircles towering rugged mountain ranges engulfed by Bass Strait. When you are on top of a mountain on an island, the ocean views are in every glorious direction. Being 200m high, many different weather systems unfold all at once. It’s a joy to behold.

Our terra firma looks like snow, however, it’s white from pure crystal quartz and granite. The energy from the ground is palpable and it glistens and sparkles in the sun.

The view beholds the jewel in the Flinders Island crown – the magnificent Mt Killiecrankie.It’s not just a mountain of pure size and scale. Mt Killiecrankie is bejewelled in gigantic outcrops of granite that glisten in the morning dew and change colour throughout the day from purples and burnt oranges to the most brilliant of rusty reds. The mountain laps Bass Strait, with turquoise bays and alcoves surrounding its glory. She is a sight to behold and one I don’t think we will ever grasp the pure beauty of.

Mt Killiecrankie also produces the famous ‘Killiecrankie Diamond’, born from the belly of the granite. A rare, clear to light green topaz, it’s so precious that many centuries ago the Queen sent a fleet to recover her bounty. Some of these jewels adorn some very treasured royal tiaras to this day. Tourists and local folk alike fossick for these rare and exquisite gems.

The instant love of this wild Eden was pure and ran deep and after spinning many plates, we managed to secure our savage land.

Chapter 2: The planned detonation

By 2021, thoughts of Flinders Island permeated every pore. It was the constant topic of conversation for Jamie and I and it was all-encompassing. How many years until we press the eject button? How do we start truly living our dream? What about my career in radio?

I had and still have a deep, passionate love and respect for radio. From the adrenaline-filled live-to-air dance, the creative nature of the beast to making real change, raising money for charity, my awesome workmates who were my radio family … the list goes on. It consumed 21 years of my life. I knew nothing else. I lived, breathed and devoured every morsel of it.

Radio is also an exhausting vocation. From the 3.30 am starts, taxing hours, planning and executing to late-night hosting gigs and weekend work, it was a beast that needed constant feeding. My health was suffering as a result and was all accumulative.

In 2021 after a few trips to hospital, doctors told me the only magic elixir was rest.

I was burnt out, my body was waving the white flag. I felt like I was sleepwalking through life like a zombie, rousing everything within me to pretend I wasn’t to the public.

There’s a saying that suggests “why work so hard to accumulate possessions you’re too busy to enjoy”. In my case, that rang oh so very true. We lived near the beach, in a beautiful bush pocket in Tugun, and I was too tired to enjoy the beach or friends or even the Currumbin markets on a Friday night. I was existing and not truly living. Maybe we could push our dream forward?

In March of the same year, our family suffered an unimaginable tragedy that broke our hearts. Our decision became crystalline in its purest form. Jamie and I had the gift of precious time, so it was time to blow up our lives and hope the shrapnel landed exactly where it was supposed to; carefully crafted not to implode or explode so much that it caused any casualties.

However, the first casualty was my sanity! So many ‘what ifs’. What if we run out of money? What if we couldn’t sustain our new life? What if the savage in me retreats? What if we made a mistake wanting this? How do I leave a career I spent two decades perfecting? Are we mad? What about my elderly parents? Where do we start in planning and selling our house, cars and possessions? So many casualties.

This required a seismic shift in thinking, fighting against the fright you’ve just given your logical side that has been set on a course of automatic pilot your whole life.

Telling my general manager and content director was tough. This was the real moment of no turning back. Walking down the hallway at work to a meeting I scheduled where they were sure I was signing a new contract, I felt an alchemy of unrhythmical palpitations, mixed with exhilaration and pure terror. This conversation was the birth of my new life, chasing my savage and mourning the old. I was fully supported and it was a perfect fairytale ending to my career and a joyful farewell. Work colleagues and listeners alike were very intrigued and interested in our adventure. I’ve found that they often hold a mirror to themselves. Could they do it? Are they too scared to chase their dream?

For Jamie and I, saying goodbye to our families was the toughest, especially my frail father. Dad was my staunchest supporter. He was an adventurer who lived life to its maximum and valued every small aspect of life. He lived on an island and still commuted to Brisbane for his dental practice. Our childhood was filled with fishing and boating adventures, island life, beach cricket and learning how to surf. Dad was so proud and said pioneering was in my DNA. He taught his daughters that life is a succession of eras and to always embrace the new ones.

That goodbye was the toughest and broke my heart. I refused to believe it was the last time I would see my father. Dad knew otherwise.