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Call goes out for Castaway memories

AAP logoAAP 29/09/2016 Jenny Tabakoff

To you they are memories of a happy holiday. But to Castaway Island, they're history.

The luxury Fiji island resort, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in November, is keen to hear from people who holidayed there in the early days, especially the 1960s and 1970s.

The 70-hectare island (known to Fijians as Qalito) was the first resort in the Mamanuca Islands group. Castaway was developed by the late Richard "Dick" Smith, and welcomed its first guests in November 1966.

Since then its white sand, sparkling water, coral reefs, friendly staff and get-away-from-it-all philosophy have cast a spell over many thousands of visitors - most of them Australian.

Castaway has had several owners - including Australia's Geoffrey Shore from 1992 to 2014. Today the resort is run by Outrigger, a US-owned group that specialises in absolute beachfront properties (including Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, on the Coral Coast of Viti Levu).

Part of Fiji's charm is the perception that it never changes, but that's not entirely the case. And to help the resort mark its 50th anniversary, Castaway's present management would like to know more about the early history - and bring it to life with photos and other memorabilia.

Many of those who stay in Castaway's 66 thatched-roof bures are return visitors - 40 per cent, according to general manager Steven Andrews. He suspects there's a treasure trove of memories out there, in the photo albums and cupboards of past guests.

Some of Castaway's staff have worked there for more than 30 years.Duty manager Lingo Reece is one such treasure. He began there in 1987-88, initially on the activities staff. Perhaps you took a photo of him playing volleyball with your kids.

He is used to being greeted by returning guests as an old friend. "It's like coming home to them," he says. "It's like family."

The resort would love to see your photos, film footage and memorabilia from Castaway's early years: happy snaps of the family outside your bure or at dinner, or drifting over the coral in a glass-bottom boat, or of a toddler having fun with an ever-smiling Fijian babysitter.

Perhaps you have a home-movie of the staff lining up to sing Isa Lei, the traditional Fijian song of farewell, as you left.

If you are happy to share your Castaway memories - and photos of you in a macrame bikini with a Farrah Fawcett-style hairdo, or wearing Stubbies and bucket hat - email Castaway publicist Donna Parkin at


GETTING THERE: Fiji Airways, Virgin Australia and Jetstar fly from Australia to Nadi, Most holidaymakers travel to Castaway Island on a South Sea Cruises boat from nearby Denerau Marina. The voyage takes about an hour and a half. Details:

STAYING THERE: Many people spend a few days each at Castaway Island and at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort, which is on Fiji's big island of Viti Levu, Details:

* The writer travelled as a guest of Outrigger Resorts Fiji.

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