This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2005 Travels June 24

FRIDAY 24 JUNE     PUNGALINA

Up early again to do the last big group breakfast. There were all the usual items plus most guests wanted the hot cooked offering: fried tinned ham, creamed corn, baked beans on toast.

I finalized the drinks tally in the book, for guests to settle with O or A.

After breakfast, the group headed off, in the billycart, to the plane. Their next stop was Mt Borraidale, in the NT. They were effusive with their thanks and comments written in the guest book – which was set out on the table beside the tent, along with general information about the place for their perusal over their time here.

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I think they were genuinely regretful that their stay here was not longer.

Some comments from the book:

* Don’t want to leave. Hope to return. Love and thanks to all.

* Outstanding. Thanks to all.

*Memorable moments in our lives.

* Our second trip. Witness to the wonderful improvements and assistance given by W, A, E, M, Wendy and John. Thank you.

* Fabulous place. Wonderful people. Thank you.

I was quite surprised at how much I was valuing the feedback in the guest book. Guess it was just good to have all the hard work appreciated.

No tips from this group though!

We all saw them off at the airstrip. Watched the plane disappear into the distance. Could not feel too much of a let down, though, because there were still guests to look after, and M to continue to show the place to.

The mail plane came in. What I had thought was a small grocery order tallied to $232.60! Usually I did not see the invoices for the weekly order, but today it was left in with the goods. I was amazed at the cost.

The two remaining guests relaxed at the camp for what was left of the morning, and went out with O, sight seeing, after lunch. I think they really enjoyed experienced the camp in relative solitude.

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I quickly made a sponge cake from a packet mix, for tonight’s trifle dessert. Made up jelly.

I felt able to experiment a bit for lunch, with only the two to feed. Made a pull apart loaf of bread, with some herb and cheese filling. Great success – to be repeated. Served it with leftover cold zucchini soup, salads, zucchini slice. Fruit and cake followed.

Fortunately, there was a good sized queenfish in reserve, in the freezer. I was able to wrap that in foil and bake it for tea, with jacket potatoes and sour cream, salads. Dessert was wine trifle – very well received.

During the morning, the pilot guest offered to take M up for a flight in his plane, which was an aerobatics one. They flew over much of the property, often quite low down. As they came back towards the airstrip, pilot saw the billycart, being driven down the airstrip. He presumed it was O, and said to M that he would give him a fright. They came in really low and at quite a speed, roared over the billycart then climbed steeply. Because of the noise of the billycart engine – and a degree of deafness – the driver didn’t hear them coming behind him and got one hell of a fright when this plane suddenly roared over, just above his head. The only problem was that it was W driving, not O, and he was none too impressed, to put it mildly!


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2005 Travels June 23

THURSDAY 23 JUNE     PUNGALINA

The usual early start and breakfast, but today the cooked offering was bacon with cooked tomato halves.

Today was another “out” day. so lunches and smokos had to be packed. A had made blueberry muffins for me, from a packet mix, early on, so they were fresh to go. The zucchini slice would be the basis for lunch, with packed individual containers of salad – potato, bean, lettuce, tomato wedges, leftover rice salad. I remembered to pack knives and forks with lunch! There was still some cake left to go with the muesli bars for afternoon tea.

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Group out sightseeing today

A and M did the usual cleaning.

The two guests who came independently in their own plane, had decided to stay on an extra night from the rest of the group, so I had to work out the meals for them and plan ahead.

I made bread, including some French sticks, for tea. Made curried zucchini soup, to be chilled and served cold. Made coleslaw, green salad, tomato and onion salad. Put together a fancy fruit salad for tonight’s dessert.

Assembled a nibbles plate – the usual items. They seem to have been very well received – and all eaten – on the previous nights, so I saw no need to vary same much.

I tallied up the drinks consumed from the drinks fridge, from the honesty book, to make the final departure and payment quicker in the morning.

Tea was to be BBQ style, but cooked on the stove. O had brought down defrosted steaks, and mince, from which I made little hamburger patties. Marinated the steaks in red wine and garlic. I sliced onions ready to fry. Made chippies from potato and kumara, diced, and baked those in the oven.

When the group was back in camp, cleaned up and relaxing with nibbles, I fried the patties and seared the steaks, on the stove, and fried the onions, keeping things warm in the oven. It was a bit of a juggling act.

Being the last night for A’s group (all but two), dinner was for just about everyone – I catered for seventeen. W and A came down from the house, O and his daughter, M and John all joined the group.

Over the time, I’d had some pressure to eat with the group, but really preferred to be arranging the next course, getting started on clean up, and the like. But I had gone in and sat round the table, talking with the guests, when coffee was being had, and also joined the campfire gatherings. The company was very enjoyable.

The chilled soup, with bread, was served first. Mains were as described – meats, onions, chippies and salads. The steak was a bit tough. Fruit salad and whipped cream came last.

There was another final gathering around the campfire, with mints, cheeses and coffee.

A couple of campers had been booked in to arrive today. O had organized for W to show them down to the Squeaky Trees site and get them settled there.

I was really pleased that the boss’ first visit seemed to have gone really well – at least from the catering perspective. But could not relax, just yet.

 


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2005 Travels June 22

WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE    PUNGALINA

Another early start.

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Donkey working hard to heat water. Switchboard box to right

Breakfast was a yesterday. But today most of the guest opted to have cooked bacon and eggs as well, so I was quite busy.

O brought down a large partially thawed barramundi, from the freezer. This one, at least, had been scaled before freezing!

Today, the group would be out all day. I made up lunch sandwiches that would keep without going mushy: tinned ham, cheese, cold roast beef, and little packs of salad. Sent out apples and oranges, muesli bars, biscuits, and the remaining cakes for smokos.

The group being out gave me a clear run to get ahead for the rest of their stay. A had been coming down from the house for the past couple of days, helping with the tent checks, amenity cleaning with M, and with some kitchen hand work in the mornings. Today she collected guest washing – they had been asked to leave out any that they required doing. She took that, and the tablecloths and used tea towels back to the house to wash.

It occurred to me that it would be a good idea for S to arrange, for the future, a washing bag for each tent, with its name on. This could prevent mix up of clothes. Calico would be a good material to use. If we were coming back next year, I could make up same, at home, if S hadn’t gotten any.

One of the very early morning jobs for M had become removing numbers of little rocket frogs from their perches on the cisterns in the toilets. Our previous toilet inhabitant, Gertie the green tree frog, had finally become discouraged and removed herself permanently. The rocket frogs were cute, but very messy!

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Rocket frogs and their mess

I managed to get up to the house, to the computer in the office room, and put in the orders for the next supply truck, just in time for the deadline. It was a rather massive order, that I’d been collating over the past few days, whenever I could snatch a bit of time. The Woolworths order included 106 different items, with multiples of a lot of those, like six half kilo packets of dates and six jars of cheddar cheese spread, six kg of plain flour. The wholesalers order included 12 tins of tomatoes, 10 litres of long life milk, 12 packets of dried green peas, and so on; in total there was an assortment of 83 cans of food in that order, 20 kilos of washing powder, and items like kerosene, fly spray, food wrap. The greengrocer’s order was of a similar scale: 20kg potatoes, 10kg onions, 4 dozen eggs, 4 kg zucchini, 8 bulbs of garlic, and so on.

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The old Silver Bullet van that housed the office, beside the house

Back at camp, I made some loaves of bread and a cooked savoury zucchini slice, biscuits, and a date loaf. Prepared the salads for tonight’s meal: rice salad, Asian style pineapple salad, and a green leaf one. Made mango cheesecake for dessert. Also made potato and bean salads for tomorrow.

Prepared the barra for cooking – it was large and would only just fit in the oven – diagonally, and with its tail curled up! Put spring inions, garlic and ginger in the cavity, to flavour it, and wrapped it in foil for baking.

Made up the pre-dinner nibbles – the usual assortment, making sure I added some of the gifted gravlax.

A had brought back the guests’ washed clothing during the afternoon, along with my clean tablecloths. She couldn’t remember which items belonged to which tents, so we had to leave it on the outside table for them to collect! Not best practice, when underwear was involved!

When I was finalizing dinner, the guest who had brought the gravlax came into the kitchen tent. He suggested that I heat a cup of peanut oil in a saucepan and then pour the really hot oil over the skin of the baked fish. It worked really well – caused the skin to sizzle and go really crisp. I would definitely “keep” that method!

The meal was successful, with the various elements fitting together well.

It turned into another evening by the campfire, with didge and guitar. There was no shortage of interesting conversation, that I could hear drifts of, as I worked in the nearby kitchen tent.

The group was slightly earlier to retire tonight – they’d had a busy day.


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2005 Travels June 21

TUESDAY 21 JUNE     PUNGALINA

We were up early to get on with the day’s work. John had to do an early stoke of the donkey. Then he fired up the generator, after filling it. That was a bit of a wake up call for guests!

Breakfast orange juice was decanted into jugs from the long life bottles and cartons.

I set up breakfast on two outside tables.

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Breakfast table by the creek

Cereals in their plastic containers were put on the table: muesli, Weetbix, cornflakes, Bush Cereal. I put tinned fruit into a large bowl and set that out. Jams, spreads, butter in dishes went on the table.

Once the guests had wandered in and helped themselves to all the above, and looked to be ready, I started toast slices cooking on the wire burners on the gas stove top. I used some of the breadmaker loaves, which had turned out pretty dense – white and wholegrain.

I offered a cooked breakfast, but no one wanted that this morning. Good!

I must admit that I enjoyed the mug of really strong, coffee bag coffee, that I drank while organizing all the above.

O arrived while the group was breakfasting. He had remembered to bring the defrosted steaks I needed for tonight. Having W’s A up there in the house really aids the organization!  In theory, the steaks were the really tender ones that could be pan grilled. Hmmm… I dithered a bit about how to serve the steaks, wanting to differentiate the beef from last night’s. In an ideal world, I would have something other than beef to serve! I decided just to pan sear it and serve with brandied peppercorn sauce.

The group was going out and about for the morning, so I organized the tucker box with biscuits, muesli bars and carrot cake. I made sure there were a couple of esky drink containers of chilled water for them to take.

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The group was off to visit Croc Hole and other attractions

After they had departed, it was the breakfast clean up and dishes.

Had to go up to the house to fax off the order for Friday’s plane. It did not seem a particularly large order – mostly for A at the house – things like tea, cereals, sliced bread, dried fruit and nuts for cooking with, long life milk, potatoes. But I did order lettuce, tomatoes, gravox, dried yeast, kabana type sausage, honeydew melon, zucchini.

I took back with me packets of frozen dinner rolls.

I prepped for lunch and tea. Hard boiled eggs, made potato salad, organized the makings for sandwiches, put together a fruit platter featuring rockmelon, honeydew melon, watermelon, paw paw, pineapple. Made a raspberry ripple cake slice, from a packet mix – not impressed with same; decided in future to use home made raspberry slice recipe from my AACo cook book.  Made gazpacho soup and put it in the drinks fridge to chill.

The tents had to be checked, water jugs refreshed and put to chill. At least, the guests are expected to make their own beds and look after their own tents. The showers and toilets had to be cleaned, and the dining tent straightened up after last night. Fortunately, the table cloths would do another night, before I would have to send them up to A to wash.

I prepared open sandwiches for lunch, on grain bread. Each person got two: a sliced cold beef with lettuce, mustard cream, potato salad, dill pickle; a smoked salmon, lettuce, alfalfa, sliced pickled onion, capers, tomato, slice of hard boiled egg. Served the raspberry ripple slice, and fruit platter.

They ate lunch outside, with the big table moved into the shade.

While they ate, I organized the tuckerbox for the afternoon’s outing, with the same assortment of biscuits and cakes and muesli bars.

Once they had gone off for the afternoon, I turned the leftovers from the fruit platter into a fruit salad for tea, with the addition of tinned mango and lychees. Whipped a bowl of cream to go with that.

Prepared potatoes in foil to oven bake. Made a big green salad.

The pre-dinner drinks were being had at the Escaprment, to watch the sunset from there, so I made up the nibbles for that: nuts, salsa and biscuits, salami and tinned cucumber slice rollups, eggplant strips, olives.

The group came in briefly and freshened up, before going off again to the Escarpment. I then had the tuckerbox to clean out.

I set up the dining tent, put the potatoes in to bake, made the peppercorn sauce, heated the rolls.

I had to try to make a guess at what time the group would return – not easy. I had planned the meal so that it would work around a flexible time. Tonight’s was a lighter menu, after the big roast of last night.

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Group visiting Totem Pole Cave

Once the group was back and organized and had been served a bowl of Gazpacho soup with bread rolls, I put the steaks on to sear and cook. Served the steak, with sauce over, potato – with bowls of sour cream; guests could help themselves to salad. The steaks were not too bad, though not really prime beef tender! The fruit salad and cream followed.

Eventually, the group gravitated to the camp fire and I put out the cheese platter and mints there.

After we had done the dishes and cleaned up, we went out there and sat with the group. O was playing his didgeridoo, and A was strumming on his guitar. All very convivial.

Again, it was about 11.30 by the time we hit bed.

John had managed to have a talk with A about hours and pay, for these periods when we worked long periods of very long days without a break. If the business kept picking up, as it looked to be, this would be happening more. It was agreed that we would receive extra pay for same.

 

 


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2005 Travels June 20

MONDAY 20 JUNE     PUNGALINA

We were up early and into the work.

John only needed to rake leaves and do a last tidy up, before he went off to do his morning watering at the house.

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Aerial view of Safari Camp. The new tent was by itself out on the right.

I thought we had the place looking as good as it possibly could. It had the “wow” factor that we hoped for – that all-important first impression. It was a pity that A’s wife S would not be with the group – a last minute omission that cut the group down to ten. Originally we had been told it would be twelve. I would be cooking for twelve or more though, as O would eat with the group every night, plus we had to eat too, and O’s daughter may join the group tea at times.

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Not going to run out of food!

M gave the amenities a final clean, after our morning use of same. We put the jugs of cold drinking water into the tents.

When John came back from watering, he brought the supplies I’d requested from the house: defrosted pieces of roasting beef, greens, frozen kabana, pita breads, pawpaw picked from trees there.

I marinated the chunks of meat in a mix of red wine, grain mustard and garlic. I defrosted the packets of pita breads and made some roti dough. Got loaves of bread started in the two bread machines – O’s from the house, and mine. Set out the morning tea of the biscuits I’d made, onto plates.

The group was only coming from Adels Grove, so they arrived mid-morning. There were two planes: the main group in A’s company’s twin engined one, and a couple in their own plane. We heard the planes coming and saw them fly low over the camp – showing the guests how it looked from above.

They were transported from the airstrip to the camp in the Billycart – a proud achievement.

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Billycart arriving at camp

We got the group seated around one of the big tables, that we’d carted out and set up in a patch of shade, for morning tea and the welcome briefing about the camp. This covered things like location of facilities, charging cameras at the switch box, not leaving tents undone, and the like. I told them the tent allocation and they were escorted to these after they finished the morning tea.

One of the guests – a relative of A’s – had brought a home cured side of gravlax, in an esky, to donate to the camp food supplies. I found a space for this in a fridge. Got the impression that he had not been sure the camp catering would run to any upmarket items!

A had brought up my laptop computer, fixed and delivered to his home address by our obliging friend.

Then the men took over, taking the guests out for a brief drive around, before lunch. M and I cleaned up after morning tea and kept going with prep for the rest of the day.

I made the pannacottas for tonight’s dessert and put them into some of the limited fridge space. Made jam drop biscuits and a carrot cake. Made the tuna salad for lunch – did one bowl with mixed greens, tomato, chick peas, flavoured tuna, cucumber, capsicums. The other bowl had tuna, cannellini beans, red onion, garlic, oregano. Both of these turned out ok, but I made a mental note to try using large tins of chunk tuna – less mushy.

We set the table up outside for lunch – just plates and cutlery. We made up a fruit platter – paw paw, rock melon and pineapple.

Refreshed the supplies on the tea tray – teabags and coffee bags.

I cooked the roti bread for lunch, which worked really well. Next time, I would not bother with the frozen bought flat breads at all. Put out the roti and flatbreads on plates, with bowls of hummus, baba ghanoush, with bought tubs of avocado and smoked salmon.

Lunch went well. I think there was enough variety, and it was (mostly) fresh and light. I thought that I should be able to find a better recipe for the baba ghanoush, though.

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Kitchen

There was no rest, or let up, for us. While the guests were eating lunch, we pressed on with the prep for tea, and with putting together the afternoon tea box, to go out with the group as they toured some of the sights. I packed biscuits, sulatana cake, fruit cake, muesli bars. Tea and coffee making gear had to go in, and some fruit. O would be boiling the billy for hot water – and for “bush” atmosphere.

The group went off, and M went with them, to get in some sight seeing.

After a while, a call came in on the portable CB radio set that O had set up for communication over the duration of the camp. There had been a near disaster! A front wheel – one that had a guest sitting directly over it – had come off as the billycart was trundling around a turn in the track. Oops!  No injuries and the incident seemed to be taken well by the guests. John had to take the Troopy out to ferry visitors around. W was summonsed to rescue the billycart and do what he could to restore it for use for the remainder of the visit. Eventually, a much stronger undercarriage was fitted to the beast, but that was later.

I’d put the beef chunks on to roast at 3pm – it had to be slow roasting, to try to tenderise it.

Got the dining tent all set up for tea. First time the new set up of the one long table, created by putting two together, had been used. With the new table cloths on, it looked like one long table. The dining tent looked good, with a couple of low small vases of bush flowers, and candles.

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Setting up the table in the dining tent

I refreshed the water jugs in the tents with fresh chilled water, ready for the returning group.

We always had to make sure that the fire was going in the donkey water heater, to provide ample hot water for showers (and later for washing up after tea). John did that when he was in camp, otherwise I kept an eye on it.

Made Yorkshire Pudding batter and put that in a fridge to sit. Made up some horseradish cream to go with tonight’s beef. Pan fried some eggplant with dried oregano. Prepared the potatoes, pumpkin and onions and put them on to roast at 5pm. Thank heavens for a fairly large oven!

There was a vegetarian in the group, so I had to be careful not to use meat fat for cooking the little pudding muffins, and to make some extra vegetables for her. I put in some kumara to roast, and would add eggplant to her plate.

Got the pre-dinner nibbles ready: salted peanuts, kalamata and stuffed olives, eggplant strips, kabana slices, semi-dried tomatoes (from a jar), and thin slices of the Gravlax. I put these out where guests could help themselves – or have them taken around – wherever they chose to sit around and have drinks before dinner.

After bringing the group back from the afternoon activities, O headed back to his house, for a break and to freshen up for tea. I cleaned up the tucker box, washed up the afternoon tea mugs.

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At work in the kitchen tent

I took the meat out of the oven to rest under foil, cranked up the oven temperature, and put the pudding muffins on to cook, in my muffin tins, about 6pm. The peas went on the stove top to boil – unfortunately they had to be the dried ones – not enough freezer room on the place to keep stocks of frozen vegetables, even though the latter taste better.

Meat was sliced, Gravox gravy made, to go in the new jugs. I served it all out onto the individual plates, which M and John took to the dining tent. I didn’t think the beef was as tender as I would have liked, but had done the best I could with it. At any rate, there was not much left on the plates when they came back!

John and I had a major disagreement, over clearing the plates. He wanted to go into the dining tent while people were still eating, to start clearing, and hurry them along. I did not want him to make a move until everyone had finished their course – too intrusive. It was important, in my view, to allow a leisurely meal, if guests were so inclined. In the end I had to pull rank – “my kitchen, my job, my way” variety. There were times I did not like working with my husband!

I opened the cans of raspberries to go with the panncotta desserts. Arranged a platter of cheeses – a good cheddar, a brie, blue, with water crackers, dates and walnuts, and put some after dinner mints in a bowl.

The main course plates were duly cleared, the pannacottas arranged – they looked yummy – and delivered to the diners. Later, after they were cleared, the cheeses, mints and hot drink makings were taken to the dining tent, with a kettle of boiling water.

Guests who had wanted wine with their meal had earlier had to select their own from the drinks fridge, writing the item in the drinks book by that fridge, for later tallying up and payment before they departed. This honesty system worked well.

We tackled a big wash up! Oh for a dish washer…..But it did not take too long. The group had adjourned to the fire pit, where O had lit a camp fire, and they sat round talking.

The group did not stay up too late. We had to wait around to close up until all had gone to their tents. Turned off the camp generator on our way to bed. We were in bed by 11.30pm – pretty damn tired!

I think A was really happy with the appearance of the camp, and with the catering, to date. He might not be so happy about the wheel coming off the billycart, though.


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2005 Travels June 19

SUNDAY 19 JUNE     PUNGALINA

This was our final day of preparation.

The camp refrigerator, drinks fridge and the portable freezebox, were turned on. That meant the generator would now be running for most of the time, until the guests left. It would be John’s job to ensure it was fuelled up when needed.

I ferried fridge and freezer goods from the house to the camp. There would still need to be some supplies brought own each day, though, given the very limited cold storage at camp.

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New shelves stacked full with new gear and food.

John gave the camp lawns a final mow – a big job. After the mowing, there was a final raking of the leaves left to do, next morning. He did a final watering and then coiled the hoses neatly off to one side.

I made biscuits – Anzacs and Golden Cinnamon biscuits. I made a bowlful of hommus. I chargrilled some eggplants and made baba ghanoush. Baked four loaves of bread. Put containers of water into the drinks fridge to chill. Made sure the drinks fridge was well stocked and tidy.

John had the fishing rods set up and put in the rack O had made, beside the drinks fridge.

M made herself useful to both of us. She gave the tents a final check and going over, likewise the showers and toilets.

O had asked that I put on a meal for the cave party, so that was extra work. But it was a bit of a rehearsal for what was to come. I cooked the standard roast beef, vegetables, Yorkshire pudding muffins dinner, followed by panacottas with berry sauce. As well as the eight cavers, I had to feed O, W and A, who joined the cave group.

It was very useful to have M to help John ferry dinners from the kitchen tent to the dining tent, and move dishes back and forth – as well as help with the large quantity of washing up and drying of dishes, pots and pans.

 

 

 


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2005 Travels June 18

SATURDAY 18 JUNE     PUNGALINA

I think we were all starting to get uptight about the coming group visit.

It was amazing, though, what had been achieved in a relatively short time. There was the long track made negotiable for some 80 kms, to the lower Calvert. There were motor boats placed in three water holes. Canoes were at the ready at the Escarpment water hole. The track out to Crocodyllus could be used, though it was still too muddy to put canoes out there. Bubbling Sands was accessible. The cavers had ensured that at least a couple of caves could be shown to those who were interested.

M and John worked around the new tent, getting it all in order. They set rock in place and levelled the area in front of the tent. It looked good. We set it up with furniture, as best we could. There were only camp style stretcher beds available now, but they were in and made up. This tent would have to be for the boss and the pilot, not the paying guests.

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Landscapers resting after their labours

M and John also cut a little track, going off from the main clearing, through the jungle like growth, to where the source of the Camp Creek could be seen. They paved the first part of this path with left over slate, and we christened the creek source Merranna Springs.

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The path to the springs

It was amazing how much water came steadily out of those springs, constantly.

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The springs at the start of the Safari Camp Creek

I did some more sorting work in the kitchen tent, and made a boiled fruit cake. The big shelves that O and John had made were fully utilized with all the new gear, and extra food stuffs.

In the afternoon, we took a bit of a break, and did the walk along the Safari Camp Creek, which O had recently slashed to create a pleasant walk from the camp. It would be good, one day, to have a walk track all the way along it, to the house.

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The walk was pleasant, lovely and green, with the burbling noises of the creek always present, and lots of bird talk too. It was quite hot enough, though.

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