It’s time. My batch of stout has fermented and carbonated so we cracked one open last night. It’s no match for Guinness but it was good. It had a little foamy head and a pretty good taste. I think something other than white sugar might have given it more of a caramel flavor.
We had a day and a half of isolation but now we’re full again. A group of seven working bees from Friends of Deal Island are here for a couple of weeks. Their main goal will be to continue to eradicate invasive plants.
We brought the Ute and trailer down to the jetty to haul their gear and food up the hill. We had to scatter a gaggle of Cape Barren Geese on the way down.
While we waited on the beach for our visitors to arrive, I encountered this dog face rock on the beach.
And a couple of wallabies drinking from a tidal pool.
A lovely yawl anchored in East Cove after at least 30 minutes of trying, and a group of sea kayakers, associated with the Westminster School in Adelaide, came ashore as we were heading up the hill. Company!
We have heard not too many people on the mainland are aware there are islands, some even inhabited by more than two caretakers, in the Bass Strait. This group was asked if they would sleep in their kayaks at night!
We have some daily chores to perform before 9:00 am. We call them the numbers. First we raise the flag. I’ve repaired two now. This one was missing a grommet so I found a washer in the workshop and sewed it on with the handy sewing machine that is a new addition to the equipment.
Then we check on our solar array and battery status. There’s a beautiful ginormous group of solar panels that soak up more sun and create more power than we can possibly use.
We check how clean they are and then see how much energy they collected the day before. We also note how much power we used, the oil heater really drives it up, and the battery status and whether the generator had to kick in. It never does so we run it once a month.
The next data is the rainfall. We are required to report it daily to the Bureau of Meteorology. It drips into a beaker from a cone, we check the level and then fax that data and record it in a journal and several data sheets.
On sunny days we open and air the lighthouse, no easy feat since it is a hike away; the second house; and the schoolroom. We also keep track of visitors and their boats. We’ve been contacted in the past when someone has not made it to port as expected. Despite our remote location, we’ve had over 100 visitors in 3 weeks with more to come.
There’s a veterans’ group, Mates4mates, who have been waiting for a decent weather window for a week, to kayak from Flinders Island to Deal Island. They called last night and said they will be here today. I think it may be part of a celebration for the 100 year anniversary of Anzac Day. April 25 is the day veteran’s are remembered each year and, in 1915, was the day Australian and New Zealand armies landed at Gallipoli. As a new nation, it was their first military engagement and nearly 8,000 soldiers died during the drawn out occupation.
Beyond that, I heard on the radio that two boats arrived last night at Winter Cove, which is fairly remote from the compound. I am not sure if we will see them or not. Two new kayakers stopped by last night, one from near Toronto(!), and plan to head out this morning. The catamaran from Port Albert is collecting their group of 12 walkers and heading out this morning. It looks like a lovely day.
We spent our final day in the Kent Group demolishing a dunnie on Erith Island. We went over on the Strait Lady with a boatload of tools. Naturally, we had a lot of laughs because of the risk we were taking working around poo. I think a dunnie is only an outhouse. I don’t think I could ask for a dunnie in a restaurant but I dunno. (oop)s See what I mean?
When we got back to Deal, Kim had made a delicious stew and later in the day, we had a lovely barbecue on the jetty and I had a chance to sample muttonbird, abalone and wallaby schnitzle. All were delicious and I can appreciate being able to live off the land and sea. I took my last walk along Barn Hill.
We had almost as much fun as the night before when we ate outside in the rain. We finally gave in and went back up the hill, the rain stopped the moment we got there. But then the skies blazed red and orange during the sunset.
The weather cooperated and we had a fairly smooth ride on the boat back to Flinders. We enjoyed our first meal in a restaurant and then, after an interview with ABC radio, flew out the next morning to Launceston.
We were reminded there are some good things about city life.
We are poised to leave Deal island on the 15th of March. The Parks manager arrived with the new caretakers today and we are officially off duty. And the weather couldn’t be better. It’s warm, like summer. It was calm this morning for their trip out. We’ll see how we fare in two days. We’ve spent the past couple of days cleaning and getting everything in order. Now we’ve moved over to the visitor’s house and are visitors. Yesterday we walked to the lighthouse and had fun looking at our shadows.
At the end of the day, I had a home brewed stout, which had a creamy foam.
Today, I put the work gloves away. It’s official.
Today we headed up a hill in the middle of the island to look for a cairn reportedly there.. It literally was a bush bash. We walked through shrubs, trees and tussocks. We got to the height of land and couldn’t find a cairn. I kept thinking it might have blown down because we found open spaces with rocks but no pile. We had a nice lunch but were a little discouraged. Before heading back down, I looked around and saw an area a little higher than where we were. There was a panoramic view and we were able to see the lighthouse and both the south and north entrances to Murray Passage. Tim went over there to explore and sure enough, there was another cairn!! Our day was complete.
This is how the grass was. You can just about make out Tim. We follow wallaby tracks but they hop and we have to plod through the clumps of grass.
We saw Deal Island from a new perspective yesterday. A luxury yacht anchored in the cove the night before and called us and said they wanted to see a little of the island. They didn’t have a lot of time but checked out the museum and Barn Hill, which has some spectacular views of Murray Passage. Then they asked us if we wanted to come with them to Erith Island before they left. You betcha!
It was strange because it was our first time off the island for three months. Sort of a practice run for this weekend. The passage between Erith and Deal Islands is much more open then it seems from up at the caretaker cottage. We got to look back at the island and the compound from the water and then from Erith.
While we were anchoring, we saw our first sea eagle on the rocks of Erith.
We walked the tracks to explore the shack and campsites we knew were there. Then on the way back, we were joined by dolphins.
When we got back we walked to the lighthouse which was shrouded in fog. Quite a day.
I’ve heard the temperature has been 8 degrees celsius colder than the average summer temperature. I believe it. I only went in the water once and that was when a dinghy dropped us off in water up to our chests. All this beautiful turquoise water and I haven’t been swimming! I’ve worn wool on almost every day of my Tasmanian summer and often several layers. And now it’s fall.
Last night, there was loud scratching at all the windows. It sounded like a B horror film. I thought I heard someone whispering, “red rum, red rum”. This morning I found dragonflies attached to the house. Naturally, they are huge. The insects and spiders are all supersized here. The bull ants, huntsmen, beetles and dragonflies.
Mild rain was predicted last night. It poured and poured. Tim set buckets around the house while I slept. We recorded 62 mm this morning, which is the most we have had in one day during our stay. Actually it’s more than is recorded for entire months, even the winter ones.
Now we only hope that the sands haven’t washed down onto the jetty road. We thought we would spend our last few days here walking the walks. Instead we may be shoveling the sand, again. Where’s the ibuprofen…and my mittens?
I think I’ll wait until later to look.
We awakened yesterday to the smell of smoke. Not a good thing when you are trying to protect an island. There wasn’t lightening the night before so we thought if it was here, it would be from an open fire on one of the beaches. So we hopped in the ute and checked Winter Cove, where the campground is (and our recent sign, “No Open Fires”). No smoke or flames. We returned home but then as the day progressed, it got smokier and smokier. We went to the north beach, Garden Cove, where we doubted any boats were anchored because of the wind direction, no smoke or flames. Then we heard on the radio, there was a bush fire in Victoria. The smoke kept getting thicker and thicker here until our view of Erith island was obscured. The fire was 100 miles away but with a wind from the north and the pure air here, we smelled it like it was in our own backyard.
Next we were involved in a search and rescue. There was a boat here, which left a few days ago, who asked us to report their position to the local coast guard. They never checked in at their home port. The coast guard called us and asked if we knew anything more. We could only add that they were headed home since we knew they had run out of food and only hope they forget to check in when they arrived.
Then we saw a tinny (metal dinghy) with lines out fishing in Murray Passage. We radioed them and informed them they were in a no take zone and they headed out.
After dinner, we walked down to the new bench to get internet reception, view the stars, which were finally visible again and watch and listen to the fairy penguins come home.
It has been a good caretaking day.
I’ve grown fond of the lizard who hangs around the sun room. I can hear the little pitter, patter of his feet as he runs across the linoleum. He no longer resides in my sneaker but I found where he was storing his food stash. He made quick work of a little beetle.
These beetles give off a strange scent. i thought I was smelling mildew in the house, but Tim figured out it was the beetles that get inside the house. Stinky bugs. Other huge beetles remind us of the “Cluster Flies” from home. In the morning, we find them lying on their backs doing the back stroke to death. They are so large, when they land on their backs, their legs aren’t long enough and can’t give them enough leverage to flip back over. Then I sweep them outdoors.
This beetle was floundering around the other day. It’s very ornate with a superstructure antenna. Unfortunately, it makes it unstable and top heavy and it also has a hard time flipping over when it lands on its back.
We watch movies on the computer and have been sitting in the sunroom at night. Since it is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows on three sides, the light shines around the periphery outside. We have learned a possum makes a nightly trek around the house, checks out the barbecue for snacks and heads off.
This is the largest white lipped snake I have seen here. I guess it does have white lips. I stamped my foot and it slithered off into the tussocks. It left the wallaby turd behind.
I guess it could backfire, but it has worked for me. I’ve enjoyed figuring out what to eat and trying new recipes to expand the menu. The other day, I wanted something different to drink and made a batch of ginger ale. It was a little nerve wracking because it carbonates and makes its fizz in the sealed bottle. If you let it go too long, the bottle explodes. I found myself testing the plastic bottles for fullness a lot. The recipe came from a Google search and worked well.
My techniques for making bread, yogurt, bagels, pizza and english muffins have been refined and perfected over the past three months. And I have had a good workout to boot. I don’t have any power appliances, so I knead, stir, cream and mix all by hand. Sometimes, I even work up a sweat. How nice if you could burn off the calories before you actually ate the food!
Often, I just look at the provisions and figure out what I have a lot of and need to cook. So I made gnocchi from potatoes; creamy tomato soup, sloppy joes and lots of sauce from tomatoes; oatmeal cookies and scones from oatmeal, chicken curry from the large tin of curry powder; beet soup, carrot cake, semolina pudding, and risotto.
Things really become interesting and unpredictable when I have to substitute ingredients. The other night, I tried to make an icing from yogurt and thought I would counter the acidity with baking soda like you do when baking. Instead, I had an acid-base reaction in bowl and inedible icing. I tried again without the baking soda and it was fine.
Now where is that recipe for roast goose?