Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Shack

I was telling a friend recently that I was heading off to South Australia to stay at 'The Shack' for Easter. Now my friend likes all the very best comforts of life and I know she was horrified to think that I was off to a hovel!
2 captains of industry - my father (with large fish in hand), my mother, and 'shack owner' in front of The 'original' Shack
So I thought I would give you a little background into 'The Shack'. Located on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula about 1.5 hours south of Adelaide it was the holiday 'home' we went to when I was growing up. Well we didn't 'own' it - but our little family of 3 were invited often to stay with my parents best friends - a family of 6! (not counting the dogs in both families). To say that it was rough and ready would be an understatement. It was basically a single garage that after a number of years had a 'dream home' extension added - another garage room behind it! Our parents slept in the living room in wire bunks - which were used during the day as 'couches'. That room contained the kitchen which comprised a table and chairs to seat either the adults or the children (but not both!) a 2 burner kerosine stove, a kerosine fridge and the piece-de-resistance were the kerosine 'Tilley' lamps we needed to pump up to light our way at night. (there was a lot of pumping required to keep us going!) The backroom comprised 4 bunks - and a sort of 'roll-out' when I was staying - a wash basin (with a bucket below to catch the water) an outside tank and that was it! Oh did I forget to mention the 'dunny' up in the sand-dunes which needed to be emptied - often. (It seemed to be one of my fathers' less enchanting tasks when we were staying!)
Lined up for a swim - my father, aunt, me (!) my mother and at the front the current Shack owner and custodian!!
A real-estate description would have been interesting but if one was geared to location, location, location then this had it all. It was built right on the beach. When a storm came 'The Shack' was surrounded by crashing waves as we peered out the louvred windows. After the storm had abated we would step outside gingerley. Often the sand had been swept away and 'The Shack' would be swinging and teetering on its high-heels. Additional posts would need to be anchored to extend the 'high-heels' so that the entire building (?!) wouldn't collapse.

Did we have fun or did we have fun! Children - and the adults (the laughter after we had gone to bed - would reverberate through the connecting door to us) lived in paradise. Can you imagine children these days putting up with no en-suite, no running water and all sharing the bedroom. Let alone the parents sharing - in the kitchen/living room! We spent our days out on the reef searching for cowries, starfish and all manner of other weird and wonderful treasures. We swam in the clear blue water made safe by the surrounding reef. We went fishing in the dinghy and ate the freshest fish imaginable. We used the squid for bait (now we eat it as calamari!) and we romped and played hidey in the huge mounds of seaweed which came and went each year. We walked across the paddocks to collect a pitcher of fresh milk from the farmer nearby. We climbed Mt NeverRest (no idea of its real name) and we found the best mulberry trees to raid. The day always concluded with us tucked up in bed and my father coming through the wire door with its noisy hinge to tell us terrifying stories (he told me later that he scared himself too - so much for a vivid imagination!) And they were supposed to put us to sleep! Eyes wide open and agog! It was paradise. And it still is. 
Inside - all light and airy - ne'er a lean-to in sight
'The Shack' has been replaced by one of the most beautiful homes imaginable. There are bathrooms aplenty, 15 huge water tanks to supply our needs, french linen adorns the beds and the kitchen has hot and cold running everything (including water!) It is style personified. Choose to eat on the covered verandah out the front or, if it's too windy in the enclosed sandy courtyard, or choose to eat at the dining table. So much choice! Go trawling for squid over the reef out the front while getting some exercise paddling one of the kayaks, tow the boat by tractor down to the water and head out fishing, take a stiff walk to Normie (Normanville) and back before breakfast, watch the sun set over Rapid Bay. Put your feet up and have an espresso - or a wine! Enjoy a fire at night if it's cold. Go exploring the reef or, go shelling all along the beach (those cowries are like gold to find), or take a walk up the nearby creek. Barbeque the freshly caught calamari, whiting, snapper and flathead to name just a few. So let me take you on a journey of  'The Shack' as it is today and you will see why I call it Paradise.
Watch the world go by on the front verandah
An uninterupted view of the sun going down
The Shack 'sitting in the sand' with Mt NeverRest behind and a kayak awaiting out front
Too breezy on the front verandah - then try the inner courtyard
The main bedroom - including a framed photo of the original 'line up' for a swim
Read or sunbake on the deck
Hide in the seaweed mounds, or drive to the far point - Rapid Bay - and take the ferry to Kangaroo Island
The reef exposed - what's hiding under that rock ledge?
Mr Seagull showing you the safe swimming area surrounded by the reef
Let's go fishin
On my visit this time I took over a 'shell' mirror that I had made with shells I had gathered over the years at The Shack.
There's a chinamans hat and a fan shell
The shell frame reflecting some quirky artwork in the 3rd bedroom
The youngest of the 4 children of my 'claytons' family (the family you have when you don't have a family!) is now the custodian with her family (her daughter is one of my God-daughters) of this extraordinary piece of real estate. But I feel it is a part of me as well. I even took my parents ashes from the Cemetery and we scattered them in a 'garden of eden' on the reef and in the nearby sandhills. It's where I'll go when my journey ends. 
At the going down of my sun I'll be in Paradise

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