We went to university, joined the Monash University Bushwalking Club, fell in love and went hiking/climbing/caving/canoeing nearly every weekend, for six years as well as studying for five degrees and training as secondary teachers. We taught for 12 years before we found Cape Tribulation, in Far North Queensland, and fell in love with the place, especially the rainforest, the isolation and the tropical climate. The variety of fruit was amazing – fruit we had never heard of – and which tasted so different to the traditional apples and oranges.
There was land for sale – abandoned grazing land which had been cleared of rainforest in the 1960s – and we spent money saved from two years of teaching in the Northern Territory – money intended for world travel – to buy the land. We spent 25 years establishing an orchard and making our life in the Cape Tribulation community.
We set up an organic farm and applied the philosophy of permaculture to Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm. As our trees started to produce enough quantities of fruit we offered an exotic fruit tasting to visitors who were interested in unusual fruit and permaculture. Thousands of visitors from around the world arrived on our doorstep to discover the delights of exotic tropical fruit.
We spent 18 months overseas working and hiking – Digby had a contract with the UN working in Samoa with the Ministry for Agriculture. Then we returned to Cape Tribulation full of renewed energy and opened our Bed and Breakfast cottages in 2001. We tried to offer the kind of hospitality that we experienced and enjoyed in Bed and Breakfasts while hiking in Ireland and France – where you arrive as a guest and leave as a friend.
In 2010 we installed farm managers, and spent 6 months hiking the Appalachian Trail in the USA – 177 days and 2150 miles from Georgia to Maine. After that our lives were not the same again. We wanted to experience more of the simplicity of life as ‘hiker trash’, away from civilisation.
Breast cancer in 2011 was a wake-up call. Life is short – start hiking before it’s too late. We sold the farm and ‘retired’ in 2014, with plans to do many long distance hikes as well as bring together the journals, stories and photographs of all the walks we have already done into one place – here.
Welcome to our website Footloose and Free
Alison and Digby Gotts