The RBK 2018 Retreat in Port Douglas

August 10th, 2018
The RBK 2018 Retreat in Port Douglas

First off, this wasn’t designed as an extravagant splash of cash just for the sake of it. Taking 20 people to Port Douglas for 6 days seems excessive, however even though we are accountants, we looked beyond the numbers and came up with the following justification:

  • We would have our 30th June planning day up there, the same as it would be here
  • Our quarterly culture day was incorporated as well, the same as it would be here
  • We think that these kinds of staff perks will facilitate long term staff engagement thus reducing staff turnover (which in our business is a massive cost)
  • Instead of paying recruiters fees, we rely on our internal culture to be the best marketing weapon in the search for new team members. So, instead of paying 18% per hire, we can spend it on ourselves!

I wanted to touch on this above, because I’m not keen on the usual social media self-congratulatory posts where everyone is trying to show off how good they are. We are just another business looking to gain an advantage by doing something a bit different. Humility is the key.


The overarching theme of the retreat was to immerse ourselves in the Far North Queensland Aboriginal culture and see if we can adopt some of the wonderful learnings of tribal culture, because let’s face it …we spend so many hours together. We are a tribe. We are the RBK Tribe.

Secondly, as directors we decided we didn’t want to leave Australia and experience another culture. We wanted to learn about our own culture, the beautiful Australian Indigenous culture that we felt we didn’t know enough about.


We divided into teams of 4 and each had a car from the moment we landed in Cairns. The amazing race was on!

We implored the team to step out of their comfort zone for the 6 days and get involved no matter how ridiculous it sounded.

We kicked the retreat off by immersing ourselves in the indigenous culture. The first thing we did was have a Team Totem Name Presentation. Each team was required to adopt a team totem, which is part of aboriginal culture, and that became the team mascot. The teams had to research their totem, what it means, speak to the local tribespeople etc. All the people in the Tjabukai tribe had a totem that reflects their life, so we did the same on a team basis.

The team at Tjapukai were amazing! They were so open with their tribe’s stories! The main thing we took from the morning was how proud of their culture they were and how happy they were to share their stories. A great education piece to start the trip.

Here are  some of the things we got up to:

  • Didgeridoo Playing Competition
  • Spear Throwing Competition
  • Boomerang Throwing Competition
  • Aboriginal Painting Competition
    We had Binna run through the basics on how to create an aboriginal painting, where their stories come from, and what techniques he uses to create certain parts of the landscape.
  • Mossman Gorge – Hike
    We did the full hike through the Mossman Gorge in constant rain, which was amazing! But, we had a secret challenge during the hike. We took Zoe in a pram and each team was judged on their selflessness in helping carry Zoe in a pram through the rough terrain. No-one knew it was a challenge, so it was a pure reflection on helping your teammates. The swim in the river was amazing!
  • RBK Values Performance
    The big one! The team had 5 days to come up with a performance of some sort which needed to represent one or more of the values of RBK. There was a lot of channelling of our inner Year 7 Drama selves!
  • RBK Planning Day
    We had our usual annual planning day over two days. We discussed our vision and mission as a team, and our 5 year plan. Prior to leaving we sent around a 100% anonymous SWOT for all team members to complete. As much as we wanted to read everything, our focus was getting into the weaknesses. As a company, we try to be super open to criticism and treat every issue as an opportunity to improve. We believe the only way to get better is to acknowledge it and work together as a group to improve the situation. So we thoroughly went through every weakness and threat and come up with an action item or plan to address each issue.
  • Flames of the Forrest Dinner
    This was one of the highlights of the trip. We had a beautiful dinner out amongst the forest, listening to amazing indigenous stories.
  • Jungle Surfing in the Daintree
    Up in Cape Tribulation, we went jungle surfing at an eco friendly zip line in the canopy of the Daintree. Amazing views with solid teamwork required to help the team members who have a fear of heights!
  • Hobby, Heartbreak, Hero Session
    Everyone got up and spoke for about 5-10 mins each. Outlined a hobby of theirs, a heartbreak they’ve endured and what it taught them, and someone they would consider a hero and why. A session like this is only as good as what we put into it, it was one of the highlights of the trip. There were tears and laughs, it was amazing.
  • Reef Tour:
    We went on a half day barrier reef tour out to the low isles which was amazing. There were sharks, turtles and amazing fish.

Overall, as directors, there wouldn’t be anything we’d change about the trip, everyone embraced the uncomfortable! The amazing indigenous culture of FNQ was amazing to witness and we have taken many lessons back and are in the process of implementing them into the RBK tribe. We can really see and feel the difference back in the business a month post returning.