The most extraordinary thing about sharing time with any individual in a remote location is knowing that human connection is inevitable. Every time I turn off the Princess Highway and point the Toyota Hilux towards my special camping destination, I smile and look at the eager Hard Cuddles participants and say, “nature is going to heal you down here as long as you are open to its possibilities.”

Strange things happen during Into the Wild and these strange coincidences happen all too often. I have spent time camping at some very special places up and down the East Coast of Australia, but for me, there is a strange pull towards Into the Wild. I have never been able to describe that feeling and in a lot of ways, there probably isn't any need too.

During these retreats, I allow males the opportunity to disconnect from technology and the pace of modern society, then reconnect with their true self. It's a chance for men to remember what it was like when they were young boys and the natural curiosity for adventure determined the outcome of the journey. Fishing, spearfishing, paddle-boarding, kayaking, swimming, and surfing.

Of an evening we all prepare clean food with each other then we sit down around a roaring campfire and discuss the experiences of the day. Individuals are afforded the chance to share their feelings under the cover of a starlit sky. This is where the magic happens, an open fire is more of a truth pit and some of the most remarkable self-realisations are easily discovered. So very healing.

 It’s nothing to see a pod of dolphins fly through the front of a wave riding the power of the ocean with effortless ease. Words will never capture how this moment affects a human being, it's so humbling to be in the presence of a dolphin. The true master of the sea. To see them in numbers having fun, completely present and totally conscious ignites something internally.

Gigantic humpback whales migrating with their young, slap the water with their enormous fins to move the wandering children in the right direction. A baby humpback whale came within 50 meters of my position in the kayak throwing itself in the air and smashing the water with its immense size. The ever watchful mother never too far away, always guiding and protecting.

One afternoon when we were all rock fishing two sea-eagles hovered above us eyes peeled ready for anything moving in the water and even though these majestic birds soared high in the clouds we could see the giant wingspan and it gave us all an idea of how powerful they are. Twice a sea-eagle glided down and hit the water looking for a fish to eat, we all starred at each other in silence.

I have always wanted to catch and eat a blue groper, it was explained to me that they are one of the tastiest fish in the sea. What makes them so special to catch is their size and bulk, they don’t give up without a big fight. Walking along the beach we noticed something lying on the shore, it was a big blue groper that had just passed away. We ate it and shared it with the other campers.

The nocturnal marsupials are ever present as we ate this meal, possums, wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, and echidnas. The most special of all the marsupials was the endangered bandicoot that took a particular liking to one of the men on the camp that needed its healing energy. The bandicoot touched his foot completely comfortable with our presence.

We caught much fish on this retreat and what was exceptionally special about eating them was how we disposed of the remains. We tossed the skeletons into the bush, waiting for the goannas to slowly wander over and engulf every single morsel of the leftovers we could not use. The complete circle of life, nothing is wasted.

I took the men to a stone gorge in the middle of the bush, a private oasis where freshwater had carved itself numerous waterfalls and several large pools that allowed us the opportunity the plunge ourselves into the cleansing water. The pools were layered and I spent time floating with the stillness of nature. Such simplicity and silence is just another chance to heal the body.

One special evening around the truth pit of the open fire we shared some truths about our personalities and begun to understand the importance of balance and emotional openness. We let ourselves be totally vulnerable with each other, we healed as one. Rather than talking, we listened to each other and observed our own strengths within one another.

We went Into the Wild with unknown potential and left as a united band of brothers. It's impossible to encapsulate the true essence of this journey in words, ultimately we left parts of ourselves with the animals, we left parts of ourselves within the fire and we left parts of ourselves with the sea. In return, the wilderness gave us all the grounding we needed to find inner balance.


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