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11,125 I Should Own Stock In This Place

About quokka

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    Western Australlia
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    Reading, Writing, Outdoor Walks, Exploring new places.

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  1. quokka

    Dec Chapter 21

    As the end of the school day came to a close, I was at the school to pick them up, and we quickly stopped at home, to allow the boys to change out of their uniforms, which we left at the unit, and we headed north to Louth Bay. “Where is this place we are camping at Mr Langton?” Jake asked and I looked at Tom through the rear vision mirror and smiled. “We thought we would keep it a big surprise for you, so you will have to wait and see” Tom said answering his mates question for me, and Jake looked a little disappointed. When we finally arrived at Louth Bay, we drove straight down to the boat ramp, and straight onto the waiting barge, and once the back ramp was up, Jack started the barge and headed out into the bay. I stepped out of the vehicle and went to talk to Jack, the boys stayed inside the car, where I could see that Jake was trying to get Tom to tell him where we are going. As we approached the island, Tom and Jake stepped out of the car and walked to the front of the barge, “Is this where we are going?” Jake asked, “Yes Jake, welcome to Louth Island” I said from behind them, and I saw Tom have a huge smile on his face. “An island, we are camping on this island?” Jake asked, “Yep we sure are, and you will need to keep this a secret, I own the island and there are three builders helping me, plus Tom, and we are building a 3-kilometre long boardwalk around the north end of the island. We have already built a picnic gazebo and an ablution block, so visitors can come and see the island, as we will soon have some endangered mammals introduced to the island soon, which will be the main feature for visitors, as well as the sea lions and seals that regularly visit the island” I said to Jake just as we arrived on the western beach. I jumped into the car, and drove it onto the beach, parking it not far from the slope that leads up to the top. Tom, Jake and I grabbed our luggage, and I led the way up to the top of the island. “Wow this is so awesome” Jake said as he looked around, “Over there you can see the gazebo, that looks over the eastern beach, over there in the middle is the Toilet block and shed, a boardwalk joins them together” Tom explained to his mate. I led the way southwards away from the boardwalk, following a narrow track winding between the tall shrubs, which helped to hide most of the solar panels from a distance, a small clearing revealed the collection of solar panels, and I went straight to the gap and headed down the spiral stairs. “Woah, what the heck, where is your uncle going?” Jake said as I disappeared out of sight, laughing at what Jake said. “Just follow and you will see” Tom said. At the bottom of the stairs, I stopped and waited for Tom and Jake, “Ok Jake close your eyes, and I will lead you for the rest of the way” Tom said and I let the boys go down the tunnel first and they stopped at the closed door to the house. “What you are about to see Jake is Top secret, it isn’t finished yet, as the boardwalk is first priority, but when it is finished, it will look a lot better” I said as I opened the door and l let the boys walk in first. The main entry tunnel opens into the open living space of the house, and currently it is the main storage area for all of the cabinetry and furniture, outside of the house are all of the walls, floors and roof for the upper level, I sat on the living area floor, on the edge, and watched the boys. Eventually the boys returned to where I was sitting, and I led them into the formal lounge, where our swags were located, Jack and his boys had set up their living area in the conference room next door, and Tom helped Jake to set up his swag. When they had finished, I led them back upstairs to the top, and we walked through the shrubs to the shed, where we stepped onto the boardwalk and we walked towards Jack, Amos and Lloyd. As we were walking I heard Tom talk to Jake, “Uncle Gres and I spend most weekends here, helping with the making of the boardwalk, you can help me to get the wood for the boardwalk from the shed to here” Tom said, and I turned to see Jake was about to say something, when he spotted the two bikes and trailers, and he stopped still. “Do I get to ride one of those?” Jake asked excitedly and I saw Tom smile and nod his head, “Yes Jake you can ride one, we just need to teach you the basics, and I’m sure Tom will help you if you need any help” I replied. Once we had the trailers and bikes turned around, I spent the next ten minutes showing Jake how to ride the bike, with the hand and foot brakes, gears and steering, before I let Tom lead the way back to the shed. The boys returned twenty minutes later with a full load of wood each, which I helped them to offload, while Jack and his sons were laying down more of the timber on the boardwalk. An hour later, I called an end to the work day, and while the boys rode the bikes back to the shed, with all the tools on the trailers, Jack and his boys and I walked along the boardwalk back to the shed, then together we walked on to the cavern. I now had a gas BBQ and stove set up in the kitchen, where most of the cabinets had been installed, and I started to prepare dinner for the boys and I, and Jack did the same for him and his boys. Once we had eaten and cleaned up, it was dark outside, we had basic lights set up in rooms we were using in the house, and as we stepped out to near the centre of the cavern and looked up, I could see that the sky was clear, and there were plenty of stars shining through the metal mesh of the dome. Tom and Jake joined me and Tom laid on the ground, looking up at the stars, Jake did the same and there was silence for some time. Can we set up our swags here for tonight please Uncle?” Tom asked me, “Yes that will be fine, just don’t stay up too late” I replied, and I walked back to the house. I read my book for about half an hour, listening to the distant chatter of the boys outside, until I got too tired to read and I went to bed. The following morning after breakfast, Tom and Jake went to explore more of the island on foot, while I joined Jack and his boys at the north end of the boardwalk, where they were finishing building the most northern lookout on the island. Once this was completed, it was a homeward stretch to the north end of the eastern beach, where the stairs are located, marking the start of the boardwalk. Tom and Jake returned to the worksite mid-morning, on the quad bikes, with the trailers in tow, full of wood, and they unloaded the trailers, before turning them around and disappearing down the boardwalk to the shed, I could see that Jake was have a great time riding the quad bike, sometimes going a bit too fast, at least they were wearing the safety helmets, which I insisted that they wear when riding. After lunch, Amos and Lloyd got to work digging more holes and setting the support posts, while Jack and I continued with laying the wood to the boardwalk, and Tom and Jake brought up a steady supply of wood. By the end of the day we were pleased with what we had achieved, and even Jake said that he was having a great time helping with the project. The boys spent their second night, with their swags outside, and once again they chattered for a while before falling asleep, I checked on them before heading to bed myself, noticing some cloud cover in the sky. The following morning, it was a lot cooler than previously and the clouds were still hanging around, but there was no sign of rain coming, so we got to work. By lunch time the temperature had dropped a lot, and once we had eaten and cleaned up, I made the decision that we should return to the mainland early, as there was now a storm forecast for the late afternoon, so once we had packed up our luggage, Jack took us back to Louth Bay, and from there we drove straight back to Port Lincoln. As we approached Jack’s home, “Mr Langton, I just wanted to say thank you for such an awesome weekend, I enjoyed it very much, and I promise not to say that you own the island, or what is being done on it” Jake said with a big smile. “Your welcome Jake, I hope that you will be able to come again, maybe when we have finished the boardwalk and the cavern house” I replied, as we approached his house. Jake’s mother came out to greet us, and I assured her, that Jake is a well behaved and well-mannered young man, and that he is welcome to join us again in the near future. The next week and a half went by very fast, and suddenly the day for the island inspection, was just the following day. I had been getting daily progress reports from Jack on the island, I decided not to go to the island the weekend just gone, so they could concentrate of completing the boardwalk, which they managed to do on the Monday just before lunch, and this included a one-metre high railing on both sides, with netting between the top rail and the boardwalk floor, to stop visitors from straying off the boardwalk. They had made a gate at the shed, where there is a ramp to allow the bikes onto the boardwalk, and handrails on both sets of stairs to the beach, and the slope from the beach up to the top is so steep and rocky between the two sets of stairs, that it was an ideal barrier, to stop visitors trying to explore other areas where there is no boardwalk. Jack informed me that he and the boys had been working on the house since completing the boardwalk, with the ceiling & floor between the two levels now completed, as is the solar power room, laundry, dining room and kitchen, which means that the house now has a steady supply of solar power to run all the lights and appliances. This also meant that meals could be properly prepared, with a fully operational kitchen, and can be eaten in the dining room, instead of camp style. Jack let me know that he and his boys would be at Louth Bay for the day on Thursday, so as to be out of sight and not making any noise, while the inspection is in progress, and I thanked him for that. That evening, I arranged for Tom to stay overnight at Jakes place Thursday night, as I wasn’t sure how late I would be back from the island visit, and the following morning I dropped Tom off at Jakes place early, since I had an early start at work, arriving just before 8am. Margie and Paul were busy loading up the boat with all the crates of monitoring equipment, testing equipment and food supplies for the day. Setting off at ten past eight, it was a warm clear day with just a soft breeze, which was just ideal for the day, I took over from Paul steering the boat after half an hour, to give him a break, and fifteen minutes later we arrived at the southern end of the east beach, as was instructed. What I had not expected, was to see someone standing in the gazebo, watching us arrive, and as he came down the stairs, I recognized that it was Sam, as he reached the bottom of the stairs, as we reached the stairs from the beach. “Good morning, and welcome to Yoronu, which is the local indigenous name for the island, my name is Sam Yeoman, Barrister and friend of the owners of the island” Sam said to us as he shook each of our hands, giving me an extra big grin and a wink as he shook mine, and he lead the way back up the stairs to the gazebo. Margie followed him with a crate in hand, while Paul and I followed with two crates each. Once we had reached the gazebo, we took a few moments to take a good look around, “As you can see, the eastern beach is the arrival and departure point for the island, the boardwalk was just completed earlier this week, so as to provide visitors with access to the island, without damaging the flora and hopefully soon fauna on the island. We have 5 toilets, including one disabled, over there in the centre of the island, there is also a storage shed that the owners use to store maintenance equipment” Sam said to all of us. “The boardwalk itself is 3 kilometres long with a total of 7 lookout areas, that include benches for resting, as you see we have here in the gazebo, we have bench seating and table with a BBQ for picnics. We are keeping the southern end of the island off limits to visitors, so as to protect the numerous bird nesting places, and the main resting space for the seals and sea lions that often visit the island. There are two areas in the northern section, where seals and sea lions can be viewed from the lookouts”, Sam continued and leaving the crates at the gazebo, we began the walk along the boardwalk. When we reached the 3rd lookout, where Jack had installed a ramp and gate off the boardwalk, Sam unlocked the gate, and allowed us to step of the boardwalk, and walk around the low vegetation in the area, before we continued on.
  2. quokka

    Dec Chapter 20

    “This is the first crate we need, it has the support posts and struts and ground floor flooring for half of the house” Jack said and his boys jumped up and began pulling out the first sections of the house, and slowly we were able to unload the crate and transfer its contents onto the quad bike trailers, and by lunch time we had one crate empty and its contents down in the cavern, and another crate half empty, with its contents near the central hole ready to be lowered down. I could see that it was going to keep us busy all weekend just getting the house down into the cavern. We stopped for only half an hour for lunch, before we continued the work, and once the second crate was empty and in the cavern a bit over an hour later, Jack called a stop, explaining that the cavern would not hold all the pieces of the house as they are now, and that we needed to start to put the house together, so we can put the furniture and cabinetry in the house to make more room in the cavern. Once all the support posts and struts were in place, we had to wait for the concrete to fully set, so on the mean-time, we started gathering all the cabinetry and furniture and stacking it closer together in one area of the cavern, so as to create more room. Once that was done, we began to unload the third crate from the barge, and transport it to the central hole, ready to be lowered into the cavern, which was external and internal walls for the ground floor. The house had been built in a way that it was like a jigsaw that just needed to be put together in the right order, with steel bolts securing each section of the floor together and half of it was completed by the end of the day, giving us the start of an idea how it will look. From what I could see so far, I was very happy, it is a very large house, and I was hoping that it all comes together, without too much problems. The following morning, we started early, with the strut posts now set hard into place, we continued on with finishing the whole ground floor of the house, with it being half a metre up off the ground, to avoid any flooding, and allow some breathing space between the floor of the cavern and the house. By the late afternoon, we had 75% of the ground floor external walls up, and already it had changed the whole cavern atmosphere, sadly Tom and I had to return home to Port Lincoln, and Jack took us back to our vehicle at Louth Bay, before he returned to the island for a bit more work before dinner. When Tom and I arrived home just after dark, I was total exhausted, and Tom collapsed onto the lounge and promptly fell asleep, I left him there while I prepared some dinner, and woke Tom when it was time to eat. After dinner, Tom went and had a shower and went straight to bed, and once I had cleaned up, I did the same. The next morning when I woke up Tom, he said he wasn’t feeling very well, so I let him go back to sleep, and I called the school, to let them know that Tom would be absent from school today. I just relaxed for the morning, doing some reading, and also the laundry from the weekend on the island, an hour before lunch time, Tom made an appearance complaining that he was hungry, so I made some brunch for the both of us, and while I cleaned up, Tom went into the lounge and turned on the television, and found an old movie was on. I soon joined him and nearly 1 ½ hours later the movie came to an end, and I suggested to Tom that he find something else to do besides television. Tom went out into the rather bare back yard and just wandered around till he stopped at the only tree in the yard, and he sat down leaning his back against it, and he soon fell asleep. As I watched him sleeping, I called Jack to see how things were progressing on the island, and Jack said that he and the boys had completed all of the external and internal walls on the ground floor, and they had moved all the cabinetry and furniture into the house. Jack said that he was planning to get all the other crates unloaded and down into the cavern, and then dismantle the crates, as they could be recycled in some way, he just wasn’t sure how yet. After Tom had been asleep for nearly an hour, I went out and woke him up, and suggested that he come inside before he got sunburnt. I gave Tom a drink of juice before pouring some for myself, and sat down at the table near Tom. “I was thinking, do you think your friend Jake might like a camping trip with us next weekend, let him in on the secret?” I asked Tom who looked shocked and surprised by my suggestion. “I think that would be awesome, thanks uncle Gres, I think he will be surprised” Tom eventually replied. “How about we ask him and his parents about the camping trip to near Louth Bay first, and we keep the exact location of the camp site until we arrive at the boat ramp at Louth Bay” I suggested and Tom smiled and nodded his head, ‘That sounds great” he replied and we talked about it a bit more, before we got the scrabble game out, to have some fun for a while. By the end of the day, even with all the sleep, Tom was still fairly tired, so I gave him and early dinner and he went to bed soon after. The next morning Tom was up on time, and he was back to his normal cheeky self, as he came into the kitchen, dressed in his school uniform ready for some breakfast. When I took him to school, Jake’s mother was there dropping off her son, and I took the opportunity to say hello to her. We had spoken briefly a number of times, and that was all, Amanda is mostly a stay at home mum, working part time at the local library, while her husband - Shamus is a self-employed landscape gardener and plant nursery owner. After the pleasantries were over, I asked Jakes mum, how she felt if Jake joined Tom and me on a camping trip to near Louth Bay next weekend, I explained to her that Tom and I regularly go camping, usually every second weekend, and that we spent most of the time hiking and exploring new areas. Jake’s mum said that she would talk with her husband and let us know in the next few days. We said goodbye and were about to go our separate ways, when the headmaster came dashing out of the main building, calling to both of us. “I am so glad to catch you both, can you please spare twenty minutes to attend a special assembly” he said trying to catch his breath, we both agreed, and while walking towards the gymnasium with the headmaster, I made quick call to work, to let them know I would be late coming in because of a school request. When we entered the gymnasium, all the students from years 7 to 12, were seated on the floor, in their class groups, with their teachers seated in chairs nearby. On the stage, there were a small group of people seated, two of them were police officers, and the headmaster directed us to sit in vacant chairs beside our boy’s teacher, while he walked up to the stage, and the hall fell silent as he approached the microphone. “Students, Teachers and special guests, we are gathered here today to honour two very brave students, as you are all aware, the year 8 students recently went on a school camp to Coober Pedy, and on the return journey, they were unfortunate enough to get caught up in a major jewellery theft. Thanks to these two boys, all the thieves got away with was a sports bag full of clothes and books, while the estimated $50,000 worth of opal was returned to their rightful owners. I wish to now introduce the Superintendent of Police for the Northern District – Mr Glendenning, and the owner of the Jewellery store in Coober Pedy – Mrs. Angelino” the headmaster announced to the school. “Thank you, Mr Headmaster, I just wanted to thank the two boys concerned with the recovery of my opal, and as a reward, I am presenting to the school a cheque for $5,000, to go towards it’s sports programmes, and to Jake and Thomas, a $100 note each, that I hope they will put into a savings account for the future” the lady said. “Jake and Thomas, can you come forward please” the Headmaster asked. I was quite surprised by this, as was Jake’s mother who was sitting next to me, as the boys walked up to the stage, where they shook hands with the two guests, before being presented the money, and the headmaster received the cheque. After a few more announcements from the headmaster, the assembly was called to a close, and the students began to file out of the gymnasium. Jake and Tom came up to us, to show us the fresh $100 notes they had just received, and I suggested that we look after the money till after school, and Jakes mum agreed with my suggestion. After work, I collected Tom from school, and Jake and his mum were waiting to see us. “I spoke to my husband, he is happy for Jake to spend the weekend camping, Jake is to keep his mobile phone with him at all times, will you be in an area with mobile coverage?” Jake’s mum asked me, “Yes, there is good coverage where we are going, as we have been there before, he will need a swag and don’t forget swimming gear, as we will be swimming also” I replied, and we said goodbye and went our separate ways. At home, Tom put his $100 note in his favorite book – “The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling” to keep it flat and protected and returned the book to its place in the bookshelf, before making himself some afternoon tea. The next two days at work, I was out in the field, with Paul and Margie, collecting research data, on a number of the outer islands in Spencer Gulf, I had arranged for Tom to go to Jake’s place after school, as I would be late home both days, and when I collected Tom on Thursday evening, we were invited to stay for dinner, which I accepted. During dinner, Tom told the story of how he met me on the Indian Pacific train, and that when his mother fell ill, I became Tom’s temporary guardian and he came hiking for ten days with me and a family friend – Ethan. When asked where we had gone hiking, I answered the question – Kokoda. Which left Jake’s parents speechless, Jake had vaguely heard of the place, but nothing more, “Where is Kokoda Mr Langton?” Jake asked me. ‘Well it is a place in the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea, the Kokoda Trail is famous because it was the place of a battle between the Japanese and Australian forces during World War Two” I said. “The trail is a very tough trek through thick forests, high mountains and wild rivers, it was the toughest, but most exciting and rewarding experience of a lifetime” Tom added with a big smile. “We will have to show you the photos some time, it was truly an amazing journey, Ethan and I had spent months preparing for the journey, getting physically fit, and getting use to long walks, Tom here only had a week to get prepared, Ethan and I got him into a fitness training schedule as soon as the decision was made that he would be joining us, and like a trouper he did the basic fitness training, and completed the whole trek with us, although there were a couple days when I seriously thought about us pulling out” I said looking at Tom. “Yes, it was brutal, those mountains we spent nearly every day going up and down, up and down. I remember crawling into our tent and falling asleep straight away, Gres had to keep waking me up each night when dinner was ready, then I would go straight back to bed” Tom said. “Unfortunately, a few weeks after we got back, Tom’s mum passed away, a barrister who was also travelling on the Indian Pacific had assisted Tom’s mum – Angela to make a will, making me Tom’s permanent Guardian, which I only found out later” I explained to our hosts. While eating desserts, I explained that we often go camping along the coast near Louth Bay, where a friend has a property, where we have a camp fire and sleep under the stars, go swimming, explore the area, watch the seals and sea lions sunbaking on the rocks and beach, and just relax. The following day, after dropping off Tom at school, and collecting Jakes camping gear and luggage for the weekend, I went to the shops to get all the food and drinks that I would need for the weekend, and loaded up the car. At lunch time, I called Jack, to see how things were progressing on the island, and I was informed that all of the pieces for the house are now in the cavern, and the three domes are over the holes, he also said that they had made a camouflage net over the two glass Perspex domes, so as to hide it, as it would reflect off the sun and be visible from the air, which I hadn’t thought of before. He said they had resumed work on the boardwalk, and have now completed 1.6 kilometres so far, so they are over half way from completing the job. I let Jack know, that Tom’s school best friend would be joining us on the island this weekend, so we would have an extra pair of hands to help, even though he is not aware of that yet, which made Jack laugh. I told Jack we would be at Louth Bay by 4pm, and asked him to pick us up at that time, which Jack agreed to do, and he ended the call.
  3. quokka

    Book Three of New Beginnings

    Book 1 - New Beginnings Book 2 - New Direction and now, the next and last book of this story... Book 3 - A New Chapter Coming very soon...
  4. quokka

    Dec Chapter 19

    The next morning, Tom and I were up early, having packed for the weekend the night before, and we arrived at Louth Bay just before 8am, and we only waited a few minutes before Jack and his sons arrived. We loaded all the deliveries onto the barge, along with Tom and my luggage, and Jack’s vehicle, and we made our way over to the island. We started on the biggest item on the barge first, that being the staircase, and we used both quad bikes and trailers to slowly and carefully get it up to the top and then into position beside the hole, before we slowly maneuvered it into and down the hole. It was quite a large task, and we spent most of the morning getting it into position, and happily it fitted snuggly in the hole, but we had to twist it about 15 degrees to get it to line up with step off to the midway tunnel half way down. After we had eaten lunch down in the cavern, we returned to the top, where we secured the stairs, driving steel posts into the side of the hole, and securing it to the stairs, next we began setting the solar panel frames into place around the edge of the staircase, leaving the space to enter the stairs. Once the frames were secured to the ground and the rail of the stairs, we carefully began to set up the solar panels onto each of the frames, and started to connect them all together, and onto the power convertor. The batteries had all been taken down to the cave, and were temporarily connected, until the power room is ready to store them, we also began to run a permanent 12-volt power line along the roof of the three tunnels, to provide better lighting, as well as temporarily around the cavern, till the house is built. By the end of the day, I was pleased at what we had accomplished so far, and we sat around the camp fire and talked while preparing dinner. The following morning after breakfast, Jack and his sons returned to the main job of building the boardwalk, while Tom and I took the quad bikes down to the beach and brought back the steel dome cover for the main cavern roof, and we placed it beside the hole, till ready to put it into place. When we had done this, we went to help with the boardwalk, and with us there, Jack went off to complete the installation of the plumbing in the toilet block. By Lunch time we had completed 50 more metres of boardwalk, and Jack had finished the plumbing, so it was now all fully operational. After lunch, Amos and Lloyd continued to dig holes and install the support posts, while Jack, Tom and I continued with the laying of the boardwalk, and that is how we continued the work right through to lunch time the following day, where I declared the end of work for the weekend, as we had accomplished a lot, and we were all very tired. Once we had packed up our food and belongings, we set off back to the mainland, and drove back home to Port Lincoln. The following day, after dropping off Tom at school, I went to work even though it wasn’t a work day for me, as I received a message to attend a staff meeting, at 9am Monday. All the research staff were in attendance, and the area manager made and announcement. “The owners of the private islands of Grantham and Louth, have expressed an interest in establishing a protected reserve for vulnerable mammals. We have come up with a list of 5 mammals that we thought would be able to survive and breed on the islands, they are – Macrotias lagotis, Pseudocheirus occidentalis, Potorous gilbertii, Petrogale xanthopus and the Setonix brachyurus”. I laughed when I heard the last mammal mentioned, as I knew where they came from. The other staff looked at me strangely, and I blushed a little. “Yes, the Quokka, Mr Langton. I am lead to believe, that the owners are currently working on building a raised boardwalk around the northern half of Louth Island, to protect the island flora and soon to be introduced fauna, and they have included a picnic gazebo, environmentally friendly toilets and access stairs to get to the boardwalk from the beach. We will be given a tour of the facilities once they are completed, and a decision on the mammals will be made once that had happened, that is all I have to say about this” the manager announced. I wasn’t familiar with all the mammals mentioned, as only the Latin names were given, and we were each handed 2 sheets of paper with the list and pictures of the 5 mammals, recognizing the last one right away. The bilby I recognized, as it is now a regular chocolate item at Easter time, next is the Western Ringtail Possum, which I had also seen before, the next two were the only ones I wasn’t familiar with, those being the Gilbert’s Potorous, and the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby, and I sat down at my work station to spend some time reading up on all of them. After reading the information, I decided that all 5 mammals would survive well on Louth Island, with the existing vegetation on the island, and once I had arrived back at home, I rang Sam to let him know my thoughts. “Hi Gres, I’ve just got an email from your boss, recommending five mammals that would be suited to your island” Sam said as he answered the call. “Yeah mate, I’ve just got back from a staff meeting about it, I have the information sheets and I have had a good look at them, with the size of the island, and with the variety of vegetation, I feel that all five will do well, especially with only the north side being accessible to visitors” I replied to Sam, and after a bit more discussion, Sam said he would send a return email saying that after consultation with the owners and professional environment researchers, the decisions is to accept all five mammals to be released onto the island. When I arrived at work the following day, another staff meeting was called by the boss. “I have received a very prompt response from the owners of Grantham and Louth Island, via their barrister, they have consulted an environment consultant, and they believe that Louth Island being 135 hectares in area, would be suitable to have all 5 mammals on the island. They have invited us to come and inspect the island, on the Thursday in two weeks, to allow us to see if we are happy with the island and the facilities on it. So, I would like Margie, Paul and Gres, to be the team to do the inspection, you will need to arrive on the southern end of the east long beach at 9am, it should take you about 45 minutes to get there from here, using our boat” the boss announced, calling an end to the meeting and we headed to our designated work stations to start work for the day. At lunch time, I took a short walk, so I was away from anyone listening, and I called Jack. “Hey mate how are things this week” Jack said as he answered the call, “All good mate, we have a bit of a deadline, the LMRC has approved for five mammals to be introduced to the island, so we need to try and get the boardwalk completed in that time, plus if the house isn’t delivered before then, we also need to cover the main hole over the cavern, to hide what is below” I said to Jack unsure how we would go about doing all of this on time. “That will be no problem mate, it has gone very quiet, so I can concentrate on the work on the island for a week, if I can use the barge to get to and from the island” Jack said to me, “Yes that is fine, you will have the barge from lunch time tomorrow, I will be at Louth bay at 1pm tomorrow, and we can go through everything while I am there for just the afternoon” I replied. When I picked up Tom to school, I let him know that I would be going to the island tomorrow, and he said he would ring Jake and ask if he could stay over there after school for a few hours, and I said that would be good. When I finished work the following day, I drove straight up to Louth Bay, and Jack and his sons were waiting for us, I also was surprised to see that a lot more supplies have arrived from Adelaide, namely the two glass Perspex covers for the remaining two holes, a large supply of wood for the boardwalk, and the second set of stairs down to the northern end of the long beach, plus cabinetry for the laundry, kitchen and 4 bathrooms in the house, all which was already loaded onto the barge. Once we arrived on the island, we spent the next three hours unloading the barge, and getting everything up to the top of the island. When we had finished, Amos and Lloyd started moving all the cabinetry downstairs into the cavern, while Jack and I went back to Louth Bay to drop me off back at my vehicle, before Jack took the barge back to the Island. I drove back to Port Lincoln and picked up Tom on the way home, to relax and prepare dinner. Thursday was spent doing some basic preparation for the island trip in two weeks, Margie had a series of tests she wanted done while on the island, mostly soil tests, and identifying the main vegetation on the island, to make sure it is suitable for the mammals being introduced. We made up a plan of action, on what needed to be done and what were the main priorities and mad a full list of all the equipment that was required. Once this was done, the plan was presented to the boss for approval and final go ahead. When I arrived home at the end of the day, after collecting Tom from school, I retreated to my room, as I needed to have a bit of a rest from all the full-on workload at the LMRC, and I soon fell to sleep. Tom woke me up some time later, and it was already dark, so I prepared some dinner for the both of us, while telling Tom about everything that has happened on the island and at work in the past few days, and we talked about what we would be doing on the island during the weekend. I spent most of Friday on and off the phone with Jack, who had informed me that everything for the house was now down in the cavern, including all the furniture for all the bedrooms, the library and study, the lounges and dining room, office, conference room and formal lounge, plus all the shelving units for the storerooms and power room, all which had arrived from Adelaide over the past two days. Jack reported that they had now completed 1.1 kilometres of boardwalk, with just 1.9 kilometres remaining, which meant they had been putting in some very long hours. After picking up Tom from school, we went directly to Louth Bay, where Jack was waiting for us on the barge, and twenty minutes later we arrived on the island, and we walked up to the shed and toilets, were one of the quad bikes was parked with the trailer attached, and it was loaded up with more wood for the boardwalk. I let Tom drive the quad bike, while Jack and I followed behind on foot, and when we arrived, Amos and Lloyd were in the distance digging more holes and setting the support posts, Tom had started offloading the wood from the trailer, and when done he unhitched the trailer and pushed it back along the boardwalk to the third of 9 lookout platforms, where it is possible to turn the quad bikes and trailers around. While Tom drove the quad to the lookout and reconnected the trailer, once he was facing the right way, Jack and I continued with building the boardwalk. Tom returned about half an hour later with another load of wood, and he announced that he had taken our luggage down to the cavern, and set up our swags. About an hour later I called an end of work for the day, and Tom went to let Amos and Lloyd know, while Jack and I rode the quad bike back to the shed. Once we had all returned to the cavern, I thanked Jack and his boys for all the hard work that they had achieved in just a few days, and Lloyd said that although it was hard work he loved camping out here on the island. The following morning, as we were about to begin work, I received a call from the general store at Louth Bay, to inform me that there was a very large truck with some very large crates that has arrived. I asked if the truck driver can wait twenty minutes, so the crates can be loaded directly onto the barge. Jack, Tom and I made the quick journey to the mainland, where the truck was parked in the carpark of the boat ramp, and once the barge was moored and the ramp was down, the large crates were loaded onto the barge, and once loaded, we made the very slow journey back to the island, taking us 35 minutes to get there, because of the heavy load. Amos and Lloyd had seen us approaching, and they were on the beach when we arrived, and with a crowbar, we levered the first large crate open, to reveal the steel tube framed sections of the house. I looked at the cover of the crate and saw that it had letters and numbers on it, inside of the crate cover, I found a consignment note taped to it, and ripping it off, I opened it to reveal a plan of the house, with letters and numbers for each section of the house. Understanding its meaning, I handed it to Jack to look at, and he spent a few minutes looking at it and the boxes before he climbed up onto one of the other boxes and opened it up.
  5. quokka

    A Soldier's Guide to Single Parenting

    Thanks for writing this story. I enjoyed it very much, even though it has some difficult events in it. Regards Q
  6. quokka

    Dec Chapter 18

    Once I had unpacked the car fridge and loaded the washing machine with all my dirty clothes from the weekend, I made a light dinner, and watched some television. Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to drag on forever, I was missing Tom enormously, and only the daily text message from him, eased the loneliness slightly. On the Thursday morning, I was happy because I knew that Tom would be home this evening, and I eagerly set off to work, and leaving when I was stopping work for my half hour lunch break at noon, I received a text from Tom, “Bus had mechanical troubles, just about to leave Coober Pedy now, teachers arranging for overnight stop at Port Augusta tonight. Love Tom”. I was very upset when I read the message, and didn’t feel like returning to work after lunch, but a made an effort to eat a little bit, and returned to work at the required time, and I put the radio on, to have some background music while I worked on the computer. About half an hour later there was a news bulletin, which I tried to ignore until I heard the words “Navigator College”, that’s when I raced to the radio to listen more carefully but all I heard was “… more on that story as it comes to hand”. It was almost straight after that when my mobile beeped, I didn’t look at it right away, as I was trying to think why the school was on the news, and I was about to telephone the school, when I looked at the message – “Isurava”. I nearly dropped the phone as it started to ring, with the caller ID being the school, and I pressed the answer button. “Hello Mr Langdon, I just got the distress message from Tom, just after hearing the news broadcast” the headmaster said. “I only caught the name of the school on the news, nothing else, what has happened, tell me what is going on?” I asked urgently, “From what I can gather from the brief call from the Coober Pedy Police is that, a big gem robbery took place this morning, and the thieves used the school bus as their means of escape with hostages. They warned the police to stay away from the bus, not to follow them, or someone will get shot each time they see a police car” the headmaster said, “Let me check something, I will call you back” I said and I hung up before the headmaster could respond. I opened the phone tracking app on my phone and entered Tom’s mobile number and pressed search, moments later came a reply – “Mobile you are searching, is not in mobile range”, and I stared at it for a moment and realized that Tom must still have his phone with him, and that he must have it hidden. I checked the time that Tom has sent me the first message – 12.10pm, then I looked at the current time – 1.19pm. Just over an hour between messages, going to my work computer, I quickly had the Google maps, and I typed in “Stuart Highway, South Australia” in the search bar. After a while I managed to find the first roadhouse south of Coober Pedy, called Glendambo, which is 2.5 hours south of Coober Pedy, which meant I still had over an hour to wait, before I had a chance of seeing if Tom was in mobile range or not. I made a short call to Sam and Lucas to let them know what was happening, and that I was in contact with the headmaster. Just less than 45 minutes later my phone beeped again, and I looked at the screen right away. “Just arrived at Glendambo Roadhouse, I have managed to keep my phone hidden, Jake and I are frightened but ok, one of teachers has been beaten up by gem robbers for trying to protect us, we can have a rest break, one teacher is organizing food and drinks for all of us. Love Tom”. I was so pleased to hear that Tom was ok, “I heard briefly on radio, soon after you sent alert to me and headmaster, stay safe. Love Gres” I sent back to him, hoping Tom had the phone on silent. I struggled with my work, hoping that no one will noticed how much of a wreck I am right now, and I jumped with fright, when my phone beeped half an hour later. “Bus forced to stop and two robbers got into a car and headed east, we are continuing south now, Love Tom”, I was thrilled and relieved that the drama was finally over. I rushed to my supervisor and said I had an emergency to go to and I dashed out the building, not waiting for a reply to my urgent statement. I quickly fueled up my car, grabbed some snack and drinks and headed north. I just wanted to have Tom in my care again, and I didn’t care how far I had to drive to do it. I estimated that the school bus had at least 3.5 hours, before they arrive at Port Augusta, and it is about the same travel time for me to get there from Port Lincoln, so I just drove. An hour later I received another text, and I pulled the car over to read it. “Arrived at settlement called Pimba, we are stopping for half hour meal break. Love Tom”. I sent a reply to him, “I am driving north to meet you at Port Augusta. Love Gres”, and moments later, “Great, see you then. Tom” and I smiled at this message before continuing my driving, stopping a few minutes later as I drove into Arno Bay, where I got out and stretched my legs, drank some juice and ate an apple before I continued on. Looking at the car clock which read 4.02pm, I concentrated on the road ahead, knowing I still had over two hours of driving to go. When I arrived at Cowell about twenty minutes later, I stopped to make a call to a hotel in Port Augusta, and after a few calls, I managed to secure overnight accommodation for Tom and I, before I set off again. Just after 6.10pm, I received from Tom, “On outskirts of Port Augusta, how far away are you? Tom”, I had pulled over to read the message and I sent a reply, “Passed Whyalla, about 20 minutes to go, I have booked us into a hotel tonight, Gres”, and moments later I received a reply, “Ok, I will let the teachers know”, Tom”. When I arrived in Port Augusta, I spotted the school logo on the bus parked outside a motel, and I parked on the opposite side, and walked over the road toward the bus, which was being unloaded of luggage. “Hey Uncle Gres” Tom said as soon as he spotted me approaching, and a teacher that I recognized smiled and signaled Tom to go. Tom picked up his suitcase and walked over to me, and gave me a hug. “I am so glad you are safe and well, did those bad men hurt you?” I asked as we crossed the road and loaded Toms luggage into the car. “Nope they didn’t, but I don’t have my sports bag any more” Tom admitted to me, “Oh why is that” Did you accidentally leave it behind? I asked concerned, “No uncle, and it only had a change of clothes, my books I were reading and some souvenirs that I had bought in Coober Pedy, before arriving at Glendambo, Jake noticed that I had the same sports bag as the robbers, so while we were stopped at Glendambo roadhouse I did a sneaky switch of the bags. After the robbers left the bus and headed east, I told the teacher what we had done, she looked inside and saw three cotton bags tied with string around the neck, and it was heavy. When we got in mobile range at Pimba, the teacher rang the police to let them know of the switch, and police from nearby Woomera came and picked it up, took a statement from me and Jake and left us to continue our journey” Tom said proudly. “Well that was a very risky thing to do, if they had discovered the gems missing earlier, you could have got into real trouble, please don’t take those risks again” I said sternly and Tom smiled, shook his head and gave me another hug. Not long after, we arrived at the hotel that we were booked into, and I let Tom take a shower first, since he had been travelling all day. I sat in the room and turned on the television, just in time for the 7pm news. “First on tonight’s news, a bus load of school students and three teachers from a school in Port Lincoln, were about to make their return journey home after 5 days in Coober Pedy, when they became hostages to three Gem robbers, who had just robbed a jewellery story in the town. Police recently released a description of the three men, who were wearing overalls, and masks, gym shoes and leather gloves. They have also announced that the robbers left in a getaway car south of Glendambo, which is over 2 ½ hours south of Coober Pedy, and were last seen heading east. The police announced that all of the gems stolen have been recovered, the result of a remarkable switch performed by two of the students, one of who had an identical sports bag to the robbers, and they swapped the bags during a rest stop at Glendambo…” I was laughing as the story came to an end, and Tom came out of the bathroom. “What’s so funny uncle?” Tom asked with just a towel around his waist, “Only that you have made the news headline, no names were mentioned, only that two students did a switch of the bags at Glendambo. I would hate to be near those robbers around about now” I said with I smile, and I made my way into the bathroom for a shower listening to Tom giggling at my last comment, and once both showered, we went to the restaurant for a big meal, before heading to bed for a good night’s sleep. The next morning, being a Friday, there was no need to rush, so we had a nice sleep in and a late breakfast, before checking out at 9.30am. We didn’t rush the journey home, and as we neared Louth Bay just after noon, Tom suggested that we stop for lunch there and spend a few hours on the island, so we had a quick lunch at a local café, before driving onto the barge and making the trip to Louth Island, where Tom was looking forward to seeing what we had done while he was away. This time I went around to the eastern side of the island, landing on the southern end of the large beach, where Tom could see the stairs that lead up to the gazebo. When we reached the top, Tom said he was amazed at how good the stairs and gazebo look, with the bench seating and the central table, minus the gas BBQ, yet to be installed, from there we walked along the boardwalk to the toilet block and shed, and Tom tried out one of the operational toilets. From there we unlocked the shed, and with just the quad bikes we went up the small ramp and onto the boardwalk, and we rode the distance of where the construction of the boardwalk has stopped so far. “This is so awesome Uncle Gres, you guys have done a great job so far” Tom said to me as he stepped off his quad bike to give me a hug. After spending some time enjoying the beautiful surrounds, we drove the quad bikes to the shed, and we walked down to the barge to return to the mainland. As we were making the final stage of the journey home I glanced over to Tom briefly, thinking of how I had become his guardian, and I thought of a number of homeless people that I had noticed during my last visit to Adelaide. “Tom, I have been thinking about something for a while now, about us and about our future, and how lucky we both are…” I said as I continued to drive, “Yeah it’s been awesome, I still miss mum very much and I think of her quite a lot, but I am so happy that you are looking after me” Tom said to me with a smile. “When I was in Adelaide last, I noticed quite a lot of homeless people, and I am wondering how you would feel, if we could some-how help them” I said cautiously, unsure how Tom would respond to the idea, and Tom remained silent for some time, as he thought about what I had said. “I think it is a good idea, do you know what you want to do?” Tom asked me eventually, “No not yet, I will have a chat with Sam and Lucas, maybe get them in as part of this idea” I replied as I kept thinking of ways to make it work. When we arrived home, Tom went to put his clothes in the wash, while I looked in the kitchen to see what to plan for dinner, I also opened up my computer to check for any emails. “From Sam Yeoman – Gres and Tom, I have some amazing news, I have just accepted a new job based in Adelaide, but I may be required to work in other parts of South Australia, which means I will get to see you guys more often, oh and the job is…” I groaned when I saw that Sam had left us hanging for more information, not telling us what the exact job is, that he was starting, so I picked up my phone and dialed his number. “Hiya Gres, how things in Port Lincoln” Sam said cheerfully, “Ok Mr, spit it out, what is the job?” I said in a semi annoyed tone, which made Sam laugh. “You may address me as your honor – I have been appointed to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, based in Adelaide, but I will be travelling to places like Port Lincoln, Port Augusta, Ceduna and Woomera, as that will be my appointed zone” Sam to me, and I was stunned at what I just heard. “Well your honour, when you get your arse over here, make sure you come and visit us” I said cheekily, and Sam laughed, “Oh by the way, I made that enquiry on your behalf, and they said they will get back to us within a month” Sam said to me, reminding me of an earlier conversation that we had a few weeks ago. “One other thing Sam, when I was in Adelaide recently, I noticed that there is still a fair few homeless people around, I have had a chat to Tom and he is keen on me looking at a way to help them, we just have to work out which is the best way, I was thinking we could use the island in some way” I said to Sam about my idea. “Ok mate, we will have a more detailed chat about it when I move over there in a two-week’s time. I got to go, cheers for now and say hi to Tom for me” Sam said and he ended the call. I rang the headmaster at Tom’s school, and was informed that Tom and his classmates would be having tomorrow off, due to the incident on the bus, and when I told Tom this he cheered loudly, and I went into my room, to make a few more phone calls. I called Jack to check if he was set to spend the weekend on the island, and he said they would be ready to go first thing in the morning, I had received emails from two Adelaide companies to inform me that the steel convex dome and staircase had been delivered to Louth Bay, as have the solar panels and their stands plus the converter and extra batteries. I didn’t want to put the steel dome into place yet, as I had to get the house lowered down that main cavern shaft, so it would remain nearby till all the other items for the cavern are in place, the staircase would be the first thing that I wanted into place, so as to make it easier to get down to the cavern, with the stands for the solar panels to be secured to the top railing, and the 7 solar panels will be fixed into place on the stands around the staircase, standing half a metre off the ground and on a 40 degree angle, to catch as much solar energy as possible.
  7. quokka

    Dec Chapter 17

    While Amos and Lloyd dug the holes for the support poles for the ablution block and shed, Jack, Tom and I started to put together the eight walls for the gazebo, which started to take shape quickly. By the time, Jack’s sons had completed digging the holes and concreting the posts into the ground, all the walls for the gazebo were in place, and half of the roof was on. When it was time to stop for lunch, the gazebo was completed, and posts were in the ground for the 125 metres of boardwalk between the gazebo overlooking the eastern long beach, and the toilet block and shed in the centre of the island. We were pleased with our efforts so far, and as we ate our lunch, we discussed our next plan of action, which would be to start setting the posts for more of the boardwalk around the northern section of the island. By the end of the day, we had completed setting the posts for 250 metres of proposed boardwalk, and I was very pleased with the progress so far, and although we are all tired, we were happy with what we had completed so far. I was hoping that we would have most of the other two buildings completed by mid-afternoon tomorrow, before heading back to the mainland, and after a light dinner, we all retired to bed early. The following morning with all the support footings set, we began putting together the floor of the toilet block, soon followed by the external walls of the shed and toilet block. By lunch time we had the shed completed, including the roof, and we stored the quad bikes and trailers in the shed, leaving just the roof of the ablution block to be completed, along with all the plumbing, and the doors. Deciding to continue the work the following weekend, we packed up our luggage and set off back to the mainland, arriving back home shortly before 2pm, and once I had the laundry washing going, I sat back and relaxed, while Tom did some reading. The following day, I took Tom to school, and I personally presented the consent form for the trip to the school administration, before I headed home to prepare for the coming weekend of work. Tom would be leaving on the Saturday morning, staying overnight on Friday at a school mates home, so as soon as I have delivered him to school along with his excursion luggage, I planned to head to Louth Bay and onto the island. With a free day, I caught the early morning flight to Adelaide, and hired a vehicle at the airport. Before setting off I made a quick call to Sam, to see if he was free for lunch, and he informed me that he had a busy day, so no, and with that I went shopping for the island, selecting all the plumbing for the ablution block, arranging for it to be delivered to Louth Bay by Friday. Next, I went to a glass manufacturing company, where I enquired about the making of two large circular convex covers, to be made of thick glass Perspex, to allow plenty light in, but keep the weather out. Stopping for a quick lunch break at a small café, near the court house, I was surprised when Sam walked in, and on seeing me he ordered some lunch and came and sat at my table. There was silence for a while, and Sam could see that I was thinking of something serious, “Ok mate, spit it out, whatever it is on your mind, you know I am a good listener” Sam said to me seriously. “Well, I recently did something, that I thought I would not do for a long time, what I’m trying to say is that, because I got caught checking him out, I admitted to Jack that I am Gay” I said quietly so only Sam could hear me. I had my suspicions, and I wanted to wait till you came out before saying anything, I am out to family and friends, plus a couple of work colleagues, that’s all” Sam said to me, and it took a moment for the information to sink in, before I realize what he had said to me, and he was smiling when I looked at him. “I know you have to worry about bringing up Tom, so I have not made any advances, but I wanted to let you know that I will support you in any way I can, even though I have had a crush on you from the first moment I met you” Sam said to me with a big smile, and this made me laugh a little as I also blushed. With the lunch break over, my next stop I went to a steel works factory, where I looked at a number of steel spiral staircases, to find one that would fit down the main access hole, and I found one that was a perfect fit, including a safety rail around the top. I also asked about making a steel mesh convex cover, same as the glass Perspex to cover the roof of the main cavern, to provide a safety barrier, but still allow rain in to water the trees below, once I had purchased the two items and arranged for them to also be delivered to Louth Bay. I went to a steel works factory, where I looked at a number of steel spiral staircases, to find one that would fit down the main access hole. I found one that was a perfect fit, including a safety rail around the top, and I purchased it and arranged for it to also be delivered to Louth Bay. Giving the dimensions that I required, I was assured that I would have the two covers made and delivered in 2 ½ weeks. My final shopping stop was a solar power store, where I looked at what is available, and I found 7 large solar panels with stands, with power converter that would be perfect to power the whole house. Once I was happy with all my purchases, I returned the airport, dropped off the car and a while later, boarded the late afternoon flight back to Port Lincoln. I picked up Tom from his friend’s home, and we headed home. I told Tom of my day of shopping, and that some of it would be arriving early next week, and that I had arranged with Jack to spend the extra two days on the island. Tom informed me that all the class were looking forward to the trip, and it was all that they were talking about during their spare time. For the next three days, I went to work and spent most of the time entering data into the computer, Tom attended school with more enthusiasm, as the days grew closer to the excursion north to Coober Pedy. On the Friday morning, I had my luggage packed for the four days on the island, and Tom was packed for his excursion north, I dropped Tom off at school, wished him a safe and enjoyable time away, and I headed north to Louth Bay, arriving shortly before 9am. Jack hadn’t arrived yet, so I called into the local store, and bought a few extra provisions that I had forgotten to buy the day before. When I arrived at the boat ramp, Jack and his sons were waiting and once we had loaded up, we set off to the island. Once there, the boys went to get the quad bikes, while Jack and I unloaded the barge of all the supplies that he had arranged, and when the boys arrived back we loaded up the bikes and trailers, and carted the supplies to the cavern, before returning to the barge to transport the building supplies up to the top of the island. Before lunch, we managed to complete the roof and doors of the toilet block, so all we had to do was wait for the plumbing supplies that I had ordered, so we can complete it all. After lunch, we continued with digging more holes and setting support posts for the boardwalk, completing a further 200 metres before it began to get too late in the afternoon, and we went down to the cavern to set up camp and to begin cooking dinner. With 565 metres of boardwalk stumps completed, we had enough to keep us busy for the whole weekend, as I estimated that we could build about 100 metres of boardwalk per day, once we got into a rhythm. The evening was a cheerful one, with Jack’s boys telling bad jokes as we ate dinner, and after cleaning up we retired early, so we are well rested for tomorrow. We all woke up early, and after a small breakfast, we set to work on the next stage of the project, starting to build the boardwalk. I decided to build the section from the gazebo to the shed and toilet block first, and once the struts were in place, it took just two of us to start laying down the floorboards for the boardwalk so we left the boys to do that. Meanwhile Jack and I worked on building the stairs from the gazebo down to the south end of the long beach, which we completed just before lunch time, and Jack’s boys had completed just over 50 metres of boardwalk. After we had eaten, Jack and I continued with building the struts, while Amos and Lloyd followed behind building the boardwalk. As I had predicted, we managed to complete 120 metres of boardwalk, by the end of the day, and I was very happy with the progress so far, with the boardwalk being built in the reverse direction, it was now north west of the gazebo, just 50 metres from the western edge of the island. Our second night on the island was a lot quieter, as Amos and Lloyd were tired from the busy day they had, so we all retired early. The next morning being Sunday, we had a bit of a sleep in, and I made a cooked breakfast for everyone, before we began work on the boardwalk. By the end of a busy day, we had completed another 150 metres of boardwalk, and we walked back to the cavern to rest and relax, it was a warm afternoon, so we went for a swim, before preparing dinner. “I thank you, for all of your hard work over the past three days, I think when we start to get visitors to the island, that the boardwalk will be very beneficial to all, as well as protecting the islands flora. I floated and idea with my legal advisors, about introducing some fauna to the island, namely some smaller marsupials, which should survive easily once a breeding pair has been introduced to the island” I said to Jack and his sons. “Are there any animals that visit the island, apart from all the sea birds that I’ve noticed since visiting the island” Jack asked. “Yes, actually we have fur seals and sea lions that often can be seen on the smaller beaches and rocks sunning themselves” I said cheerfully, and Jacks boys smiled as I said this. A moment later my phone beeped with a message, “I am having an awesome time at Coober Pedy, it is very dry and hot during the day, and very chilly at night. Love Tom” The following day, being the last for this term on the island, we had an early big breakfast, before commencing work again, this time, we decided to get some more support posts into the ground, and some more struts on, as it would speed up the building of the boardwalk a lot faster, when we are next on the island. Shortly after 11am I received a text message from the General store at Louth Bay, “Large delivery from Adelaide plumbers had arrived, ready for you to collect”. I showed the message to Jack, and he suggested that we go and collect the supplies now, so we can finish most of that part of the project today. Leaving the boys behind to continue work on the support posts, Jack and I rode the bikes & trailers down to the beach and travelled back to Louth Bay, where there is, not just the two wooden crates of toilets, hand basins and piping, but also two Biodegradable sewerage waste tanks, one for the toilet block and the other for the house. Once it was all loaded onto the barge, we set sail again back to the island, arriving in time to off load everything before we stopped for a lunch break. Once we had the two tanks up on top of the island, we took one tank to the last remaining hole, as one hole occupies the water tank, the other will soon have a spiral staircase in it, and the central one has a nice grove of trees growing in the centre. Once we had the right positioning, we slowly lowered it down, using the abseiling ropes, and let it rest on the floor of the hole, as we would need to dig out some more of the hole, to get it below ground level of the house. The second tank, we took over to the toilet block, were a hole behind the shed was already made when we had the digger on the island, and we attached the piping at the top of the tank, before carefully lowering it into position. Once we were happy with it, we began to fill in the hole with the shovels, which took a lot longer than expected, and we were all exhausted when the job was finally done. After a short rest, Jack finished connecting the toilet block to the waste tank, before starting to install the toilets and hand basins in the first two cubicles. By the time this was done it was time to pack up and return to the mainland. After I had refueled the barge and locked it up, I set off back home on my own, feeling a little empty with Tom being away. Shortly after arriving home I received another text from Tom, “Day 2 at Coober Pedy, we explored most of the town yesterday, and today we did a bus tour of some of the mining areas that surround the town, we had to remain on the bus for safety reasons, which I was disappointed about. Love Tom” I was pleased that Tom was having a good time.
  8. quokka

    Dec Chapter 16

    As I suggested, they had brought the upper level forward by 2.5 metres, the depth of the building was a metre shorter at 6 metres, and the rooms were made slightly smaller than we had designed, but still a lot larger than standard rooms in a home. The house is divided into three sections on both levels, determined by the three tunnel entries, with the upstairs first section having 2 master suites, with walk in robes, separate bathrooms, and a small entry lounge each, there is also main lounge room. The second section has 4 guest bedrooms, with two guest bathrooms and extra toilet, plus four store rooms, while the third section is an open two-level area, with a two-metre wide balcony along the full length of the back wall, which is covered with book shelves, and three reading tables are evenly spaced along the front of the balcony’s half wall, that overlooks the open living area below. On the ground floor, the section below the master suites, has a large office, a conference room and a formal lounge, while the section below the guest bedrooms, has the laundry, kitchen, dining room and the power control room. Under the floor of this section, mostly buried will be a large waste water tank, and biodegradable sewage waste tank. I like the design very much, as it offered a lot more than we had originally planned, and two spiral staircases at each end of the library balcony, provide access to all areas upstairs. The open living space on the ground floor, was very spacious, and can include recreation space as well. I liked the plans very much and I advised the house designers to go ahead with construction of the house, and I made arrangements to make a deposit. We returned to the hotel and packed our luggage, before making our we made our way to the airport, for the flight home to Port Lincoln. We just relaxed when we arrived home, having a small dinner and watching a bit of television, but before going to bed, I wanted to speak to Tom about something that I had been thinking of all weekend. “Tom, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about something, but before I do, can you open this little present I have for you” I said as I handed over the plain wrapped item. Tom looked at me suspiciously, before unwrapping the paper to reveal a I Phone 5s mobile phone, identical to the one I have. “Wow, this is awesome, thanks Uncle Gres” Tom said as he learned over and gave me a big hug. “There is a reason for giving this to you, I have had a serious discussion with Lucas and Samuel, and they have agreed to help me, I have given this to you because I have had some concerns about the increase of child abductions over the past few years, and I want to make sure that you stay safe, so I want you to do a few things for me, I want you to choose two passwords that you will remember easily, one to be reasonable easy and one reasonably hard” I said to Tom who frowned with thought for a moment before he smiled. “That’s easy Uncle Gres, the first is “Kokoda” and the second one is “Isurava”, why two passwords?” Tom stated, “Well the first one is in case I am injured or unable to pick you up like if I’m in an accident, if someone comes to tell you that they have come to pick you up and take you to the hospital to see me, you will ask for the password. If they don’t know it or try and tell you they forgot, or something like that, then you must run and get to a safe place, Kokoda will be the password that only four other people will know, that is me, Sam Yeoman, Lucas Patterson and the school headmaster, and they must give you the second password, which will be Myles, your middle name” I said to Tom, “I really hate that as a middle name” Tom commented with a frown and I gave a small laugh. ‘The second password that you chose is more of an emergency code, that only the same four people will know, which is to let me and them know that you are in need of help, I will programme it into your phone, so when you dial *000*, it will send a message to our four mobile phones with the code word Isurava, we will all have the tracking programme on our phones to locate your phone and you, to come and help” I said to Tom. I spent the next twenty minutes programming the code word into the phone, and sending a text message to the headmaster, to Sam and to Lucas, all who I had spoken to earlier in the day about my plans, before giving the phone back to Tom. The next day we returned to the normal routine of me dropping Tom off at school before going to work, when I collected Tom from school at 3.15pm, the headmaster was waiting with him. “Hello Mr. Langton, I just wanted to let you know, that your plans for Tom’s safety have come at a rather ideal time, as the school has arranged a school excursion for two-week’s time, Tom has the parent/guardian consent forms with him. I was hoping to ask you if the teachers who will be leading the excursion should be included in your plan?” the headmaster asked. “Most definitely not, the less people involved the better, even if you are not at school because of illness of away on leave, I don’t want any other people at the school to know” I said sternly, to make sure the headmaster understood. “Very well Mr. Langton, as you wish, have a good afternoon” the headmaster said, and he returned to the main school building. Once at home, I looked at the information sheet about the excursion, which is a 6-day trip to Coober Pedy, two of those days are spent travelling to and from the remote town, a 9 hour journey each way. I was a bit concerned about Tom going on such a long school journey, “Are you interested in going on this trip?” I asked him, “Yes, I want to see if I can find some opal” Tom said enthusiastically. The following day, when I finished work at lunch time, I drove north to Louth Bay, where the flat packs of the gazebo, shed and toilet block had arrived, and they had already been loaded onto the barge. I had spoken to Jack earlier in the day, and he had agreed to rearrange his work, so as to come up to Louth Bay, and spend the afternoon helping to get the flat packs up to the top of the island, and near where the buildings will be built. I had text Tom at lunch time, to let him know of the change of plans, and he said he would make his own way home after school. Jack and his boys were at the barge when I arrived, and we set off towards Louth Island. Once there, we got straight to work, using the bikes and trailers to haul the packs up to the top of the island, Jack and I walked alongside the bike to keep the load steady. After nearly two hours, we finally had everything at the top, and the packs for the gazebo were opened with Jack and I beginning to put it together, while Amos and Lloyd were busy digging the holes and setting the support poles with concrete. By the end of the day, we had the floor of the gazebo in place and secured to the support poles, and the octagonal walls are now ready to be put together when we return on the weekend. I arrived home just before dark, and I was surprised to smell food cooking. “Hello Tom, what is that you are cooking?” I asked as I walked into the kitchen, “Hello Uncle Gres, it’s just spaghetti Bolognese, it was all I could think of, with what I found in the freezer, fridge and pantry” Tom replied with a smile. When we sat down to eat soon after, I was pleased that Tom had cooked, as I was quite tired from the busy day, and the food tasted really good. “I think I will have to get you to cook more often Tom, this is very nice” I said to him with a smile, and after dinner, I asked Tom to go and do his homework, while I cleaned up the kitchen, and afterwards we sat in the lounge to discuss plans for the coming weekend. Shortly after picking up Tom from school the following day, my mobile rang, and it was the home designers in Adelaide, wanting to recommend some changes to the design. Without revealing that the house was going to be built underground, I said that the changes that they suggested would not be possible, due to the location, they tried to get me to give more information, but I just said that it had to be done the way it is deigned, because of where it will be located, and I left it at that, much to their disapproval. I was told that there would be a further three-week delay for the house to be built as it is originally planned, and although not happy about the delay, I didn’t complain and let them continue. When Friday arrived, I took Tom to school, and returned home to start packing the vehicle ready for the trip to Louth Island, with all our swags and cooking gear already in the cavern, I went to the local whitegoods store and I was able to find a 150 litre 3-way power fridge, which I purchased and loaded into the back of the vehicle, I also bought some more lights, and a rope ladder, so it is easier to get in and out of the cavern. I was at the school well before the end of school, and waited till Tom appeared, and we set off for Louth Bay, with Tom changing out of his uniform on the way. Once again Jack and his two sons were at the boat ramp, awaiting our arrival, and once loaded we set off to the island arriving twenty minutes later. With the vehicles offloaded, I noticed Jack starting to set up camp and I smiled, “No need to do that just now, Tom and I have something we would like to show you” said and I grabbed the rope ladder and we set off up the track towards the top. Confused at what I had said, Jack and his sons followed us, and once at the top we headed south towards the cavern. I stopped as we came up to the main access hole for the central cavern, and secured the rope ladder to the steel pickets, before throwing the roll of ladder down the hole, and Tom led the way by climbing down, with Amos and Lloyd following him, I was next and Jack was the last to make his way down the ladder. Once we were all down, standing in darkness, Tom lit the lantern to reveal the small hole, with a tunnel heading in one direction, and Tom led the way down the tunnel, with Jack and his boys looking surprised at what they saw, as they followed. Jack and his sons were even more shocked, when we arrived in the main cavern with trees growing in the centre of it. “What the… wow this is… absolutely incredible” Amos and Lloyd said continuing each other’s interrupted words, and Tom and I just stood near the tunnel entrance, watching Jack and his sons exploring the main cavern, which will soon be their hidden home. Tom and I made our way over to our campsite and waited for them to finish exploring the cavern. “My word, you have a great hideaway here Gres” Jack said to me, and his boys were nodding their heads in agreement, “Yes it is, and the reason why we are showing you, is that we are having a prefab house being built in Adelaide, and we will need your assistance to put it together, when it is ready” I stated, and Jack’s sons looked stunned at my announcement, and Tom just laughed at their expressions as he began to get the camp fire going. “Well, I guess we could spare the time to build this house in a cave, do you have any plans we can see?” Jack stated to me, and I pulled out the A3 size copy of the plans from the home designers. Jack looked at the plans carefully and looked around the cave a bit before looking at the plans again. “Gres, if you are saying this is being built like a flat pack, I don’t think there will be any problems, but we will have to wait and see when it arrives here” Jack said eventually, “That won’t be for about two months, as I had a call the other day, to say there will be a delay, but they don’t know that it is being built inside a cavern” I said to Jack with a smile. Climbing back up to the top, with Tom staying behind to get set up for the weekend, while we went back down to the beach, to load everything onto the trailers and bikes, including the new fridge and the extra lighting that I had bought a few days earlier. Tom had the existing lights operational by the time we had returned, as we lowered our luggage and the extra supplies down into the cavern. While we sat down to eat our dinner, we chatted about the two days of work ahead of us, and we worked out what to do, once we got stated in the morning. After cleaning up, we all settled around the fire and just talked socially, before Tom, Amos and Lloyd headed to bed. Jack and I chatted for a bit longer before we too retired for the night. Soon after dawn the next day, we were all up and eating a hearty cooked breakfast before heading up to the top and drove the bikes over to building site.
  9. quokka

    Tomorrow, Everything Changes

    Good luck with the move mate, I hope that it all goes smoothly for you. If this helps, here in Australia, some people in remote parts of Australia, have to travel for an hour or two, just to get to the nearest town, and that can be by 4x4, helicopter or by plane if the roads are cut off with the rains cutting off the roads. Its all just part of the challenge of life, Chin up mate and all will get better eventually. Regards Q
  10. G'day mate

    Welcome to GA, I hope you enjoy your stay here.

    I am in Western Australia, so feel free to email me if you have any questions, there are a number of Aussies on GA, Graham is from out your way and he is a newly promoted staff member now.

    Regards Quokka

    1. FindThySky


      Thank you very much for the welcome. It's good to see other Australians on the site. I had a look around earlier but I wasn't able to find anyone else until now. 😄


      I'll be sure to ask if I have any concerns. Hoping to make some contributions to the story archives in due time.




  11. quokka

    Neko Shorts

    Like in Tears of Neko, I found this story just as moving, and the author does a wonderful job of making the reader is inside the story, with such detail with everything. Thanks Crafting Mom for another wonderful story. Regards Q
  12. quokka

    Tears Of The Neko

    Although I found it a heartbreaking story, it is one that I really enjoyed, as well as the follow up story. I wish to congratulate Craftingmom, on a wonderful story. I look forward to reading a lot more of your stories. Regards Q
  13. Thanks for your nomination @Chris191070, its very much appreciated mate. Q
  14. quokka

    Dec Chapter 15

    The next stage was to get the tree down onto the hole below, but first we had to lift the dingo out of the way, we still needed it to fill in the hole, so with some ropes we managed to lift it out of the hole and over to the side of the sand bank. Next, we carefully attached straps to the tree, and winched it off the trailer, and with a bit of manoeuvring, we had the root ball of the tree over the hole, and we slowly lowered it down into the hole. The nursery had wrapped most of branches and leaves in a netting to protect it during the move, which helped getting it down into the hole, and before touching the bottom of the hole, I cut away the moist hessian that is protecting the roots and pulled it clear of the hole before lowering it the final metre. With darkness, almost upon us, we turned on all the lights, and we did the same thing with the Eucalypts, which were a lot lighter and thinner, so they were easier to handle. When we had all the trees in the hole we began to fill the hole, as well as adding a lot more water, with the help of filling the water tank at the well, and running a short length from the trailer, down the cavern hole. It was fully dark by the time we had finally finished filling in the tree hole, and I had driven around the trees on the Dingo, to try and compact the soil as best as possible, I decided to leave the netting on the branches and leaves till the morning, to give the trees a rest from the move. Tom and I were totally exhausted from the very busy day, as we collapsed onto the swags in our camping area of the cavern. There is the scent of peppermint in the cavern, with a mixture of Eucalypt, which I found pleasant, as I prepared a light dinner for us both, and we climbed into our swags and fell asleep right away. The next morning when I woke up, I looked at my watch to see that it was after 9am, and I gave Tom’s swag a shake to wake him up, he grumbled about still been too tired, and I just told him that all the real hard work was completed yesterday, and that the rest was easy. After a good cooked breakfast, we both felt a lot better, and we looked at what we had achieved so far, putting on a harness, I got Tom to raise me in the bucket of the Dingo, and moved it close to the netting around the weeping peppermint, and cautiously I started to cut the netting, till suddenly the tree spread out to full width, nearly wiping me off the loader bucket. Tom moved the Dingo back, so I wasn’t amongst the leaves of the main tree and brought me alongside the first Eucalypt. After about half an hour, and with me being hit by the released branches each time, all six trees were now free of the netting. The peppermint tree in the centre, looked magnificent, and the 5 Eucalypts, standing 3 metres high, around its edge looked great, with the branches all slightly entwined together. There was still at least a 1-metre height difference, from the bottom of the trees, and the level of the campsite, so I got to work to level the excess soil to create a fairly level ground, up to within 10 metres of the back wall of the cavern, so as not to interfere with the house area. When this was done, I worked out the positioning of the Boronia and Tee-tree shrubs, and I got to work digging the holes for each of the 15 shrubs, slightly forward and evenly spaced between each Eucalypt, and Tom planted each shrub and watered them in. When that was done, I dug two holes, slightly forward and on either side of the shrubs, so Tom can plant the Blue Leschenaultia plants. When we had finally finished all of the planting, it was nearly lunch time, but we decided to go for a swim first, so we took the bikes down to the beach and had a nice cool swim. After we had eaten and taken a short afternoon nap, we lifted the Dingo back up to the surface, so I could dig a trench to bury the poly water pipe, from the well and pump, to the hole, that I had chosen to place the water tank, which was almost empty from watering the trees and plants. We rolled the tank to the hole that we wanted it to be in, and using ropes we carefully lowered it into position, and Tom went down to make sure that the outlet was facing the tunnel and that it was still closed, before I completed the last section of pipe down to the inlet hole of the tank, and went to the well, to start up the submersible tank, which runs on a small generator. While the tank was slowly filling up, I went down to cavern level, and ran some more pipe down the tunnel stopping about 12 metres into the main cavern, where I placed a tap on the end. When finished, I returned to the top to turn off the submersible, and Tom joined me and we filled in the pipe trench, to hide its existence, before carting the Dingo back down to the beach, along with the tripod winch and other equipment that mostly was not needed. Once loaded onto the trailer and onto the barge, we made the 45-minute journey to Port Lincoln, where we returned all of the hire equipment, and stopped by at the hardware store to grab a few more supplies, called into the café for some lunch, before we returned to the island. Back at the island, we were surprised to see a small boat that was anchored about 5 metres off the beach, the bikes were still where we left them, and as we looked up, we could see Jack and his boys waving to us. I was not happy about this intrusion, and I was hoping that they had not discovered our hideaway cavern. There was no sign of any camping gear in or around the boat, so I presumed they were just making a day trip to the island. I didn’t move off the beach, hoping that they got the message that I wanted them on the beach instead of up on the island snooping around, and eventually they realized that I wasn’t coming up, so they started walking down. “Hiya Gres, we saw you taking the barge towards the city yesterday, we thought we would come over this arvos to see if you were back” Jack said cheerfully. “I’m sorry Jack, but I have plans for the whole weekend, as you see we are not camping here this weekend, we just called into Louth Island on the way back home” I said, trying to give Jack the hint that I wanted him to go. Meanwhile Tom had moved the bikes and trailers to their usual hiding place, and covered them up with branches, removing the ignition keys which he put in his pocket. “Oh ok, sorry to have disturbed you, we will get a move on then” Jack replied feeling very rejected, and he waved his boys to join him back at their boat, and they were soon on their way back to Louth Bay. I was glad that they hadn’t discovered all the work that we had been doing so far over the weekend, and we parked the vehicle near the bikes, and we walked up to the top of the island, and down to the main cavern. For the rest of Sunday, and half of Monday, we just relaxed and did very little, apart from swimming, a bit of sun tanning, and some leisurely walks along the long beach. When it was time to head home again, we decided to leave our swags and the gazebo and most of the camp cooking gear where it is, so we just grabbed our clothes bags, the car fridge, and the esky and headed back down to the main beach, loaded the car onto the barge, and we made our way back to Louth Bay. When we arrived at home, I discovered a lot of missed calls on the landline phone, all but two of them were from Jack, stating that they had seen us taking the barge east towards the capital, and asking if we were on the island. When I turned on my mobile, I had the similar amount of missed calls from Jack, I was not very happy about this and considered cancelling any further work with them. When I arrived at work the next morning, I was summoned to the manager’s office, where I was informed, that more budget cuts meant I would now be working only 9 to 3 Tuesday and Thursday, and 9 to 12 noon on Wednesdays. In a way, I didn’t mind this, as it meant I could spend more time with Tom and spend more time on our project on the island. At the end of the day after picking up Tom, we went straight home, I told him of the change in my work hours and I suggested that we make a trip to the city on Friday to check out possibilities for a prefab home, that we can put together ourselves, and Tom liked the idea very much. I booked our flights and accommodation for this coming weekend, and also sent a text to Jack, “Going to be in the city this weekend, no work on island till following weekend” and a short while later I received a text back, “Ok”. After just a short, 3 day working week, I dropped Tom off at school on the Friday morning, and returned home to pack our luggage for our trip to the city, before beginning a good spring clean of the whole house, which took me most of the day to complete, interrupted only when I had to go and collect Tom from school. We headed to the airport about ½ an hour earlier than needed, and we arrived in Adelaide on time, and checked into the hotel. I had arranged an appointment with the building design company for 10am Saturday, so we could have a bit of a sleep in. When we arrived at the house designers, we presented to them the plans that Tom had created on the computer, and I explained that we had used laser guided surveying equipment to get the exact dimensions for this house. Knowing that the cavern is 4.6 metres high, I suggested that maybe we could have an upper level, that is two metres forward of the lower level, so as to create a sheltered veranda, and that the 1/3rd section on the plans that shows bedrooms, bathrooms and store rooms, be moved upstairs, and be expanded to include a 3rd bedroom for guests, with separate bathroom and guest lounge. This would leave 1/3rd of the house on two levels, as a large open living space, I also mentioned that the house would be built in an environment sensitive area, so the house would have to include environment safe waste disposal as a major consideration. The house designers asked to leave the dimensions with them, and they would contact us with a draft plan within a week, for our viewing. Next, we went to view a wetlands reserve on the edge of the city, which has raised boardwalks through it, and we took a walk along the boardwalk, which also has special viewing lookouts. We looked at the way it was built and took some photos with my phone for future reference, before we went to find a café for some lunch. After we had eaten, we went to a kit homes and sheds builder, to look at their designs, for the public toilets, shelter gazebo and lockup shed for the quad bikes and bike trailers, and after looking at some of the designs, I found what I thought was the most suitable design, 4 individual toilet cubicles with wash basins, and a disables toilet cubicle in the centre, also with a wash basin, and a long lockup shed that can be attached to the back of the toilet block. I like the design so much that I went ahead with ordering the ablution block, storage shed and gazebo. A separate large octagonal gazebo, with half walls from the floor, bench seating, around the inside of the wall, and an octagonal bench in the centre, with a gas BBQ on one side, would be perfect to provide picnics for visitors, with raised boardwalks connecting it all together. I was thinking of having the toilets and shed in the centre of the island, just north of where the old sheds were, and the gazebo to be due east of there, overlooking the long eastern beach, where steps would be to get down to the beach. Just by chance I spotted an advertisement for Hovercraft tours of the Port Phillip Bay region, and this got me thinking of having a hovercraft tour from Port Lincoln to the island, but decided not to look into it for now, as I had to many other things to think of at present. We went to the cinemas to watch a movie, followed by a bit of sight-seeing, before heading back to the hotel for some dinner. The following day we hired a car and headed north to the wine producing region, were we saw plenty of vineyards, bought quite a few bottles of wine, and saw some interesting places of interest, before returning to the city for our last night there. Although it was a public holiday the next day, I received a call for the home design company, to inform me that they had completed a draft design and asked us to come to their office to view the plans. When we arrived, we were shown into the conference room, where the large plans were laid out in front of us.
  15. Hi i have been with GA for 4 1/2 years now and a reputation of over 10,000 and with 16 stories posted so far. will I ever be promoted ? Regards Quokka

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