FRIDAY 15 APRIL PUNGALINA
Today was taken up with work around the safari camp.
We took a break from camp work, a bit before 11am, which was the approximate time the mail plane was expected, and all went to the house. O showed us the routine of taking the mail bag from where it hung on a hook in his house, doing up the strap around its neck, and getting ready to meet the plane. Because the house was close to the airstrip end, just the sound of the plane coming in gave us enough time to get from the house to the end of the strip by the time the plane had landed and taxied up. There was also a kind of large letter box, built by the end of the strip, for the pilot to put the incoming mail bag in, if there was no one to meet him.
We were introduced to the pilot – a young man. Our couple of small boxes of supermarket supplies were unloaded from the plane, incoming and outgoing mail bags exchanged, and the plane was away again.
I don’t think city people, who have never lived in remote places, could ever feel how important this once-weekly link to the outside world seemed. Today had quite low and stormy looking cloud and O had not been sure if the plane would even be coming in this morning.
With O, we moved the guest tent furniture from the container and set it up. Each tent had two single beds. There was a stand or shelves between them that would hold things like tissues, insect repellent, a 12v light, with a small rubbish basket under.
O was rigging up the camp lighting system. He had some solar panels in place to feed the tent lights and rolled out a wiring system strung across through the nearby trees. There was a master power board, with hinged door, on a stand near the donkey water heater. This power box also contained a couple of 240v power points, fed from the camp generator, where guests could recharge things like cameras.
The bedding and linen – such as it was – had been stored in plastic crates, in the container. I sorted through it all and found a few matching sheet sets, but mostly it was an odd array. The doona covers were matching, though, and good. All smelt a bit musty, so I arranged with O to use his washing machine at the house, tomorrow, to wash it all, before making up the beds.
The foot track between the camp and our Cane Toad Clearing was already becoming well trodden. It emerged at the camp beside the donkey hot water heater set up. When there were guests, lighting this and keeping it fired up was another of our tasks. Fortunately, John had plenty of practice at this, at Adels. Getting wood to fuel it would be another job.
We would set some of the solar lights along the foot track to guide the way at night – for ourselves, as we hoped no guests would need to find their way along it because of some sort of emergency.
Lots of plastic storage crates came out of the container and into the kitchen tent. O had put up a set of metal workshop type shelves in the kitchen, and two metal framed work benches, one of which had a shelf under. A fridge came from the container into the kitchen – a rather old domestic model. Apparently, I would also have a portable camping fridge to use as overflow when needed.
O talked about how he would have to get the camp work done quickly, so he could start on clearing the network of internal tracks that went to places of interest on the property. The cyclone in the wet season put down lots of branches and trees across the tracks. He had already cleared up some of the nearer tracks – like the one to Fig Tree, and to Squeaky Trees, where we also camped in 2003. There were some tracks that would not yet be dry enough to take the machines on, though.