“I figured that we could bring the building supplies for the house at the same time as the gazebo and toilets, to disguise its purpose, oh and I think we will need a lean too shed for the two bikes and trailers too” I added. After we had eaten lunch, we packed up the campsite, I parked the bikes in the end of the beach, where they are mostly out of sight, and we put some branches over them to hide them, before we drove vehicles onto the barge, and made the journey back to the mainland.
After saying farewell at the boat ramp, Jack and his sons headed back to Port Lincoln, while Tom and I returned the hired trailer, and refuelled the barge ready for next weekend, before we too headed back to Port Lincoln, arriving back just before dark. When I arrived at work the following morning, I went to the administration building and asked to speak to the District Manager.
A few minutes later in the manager’s office, I explained that because I am the legal guardian for young Tom, that I needed to have some time to deal with his needs, and I asked for another adjustment to my work hours, by working just till noon on Wednesdays. I was surprised when the manager smiled and said request granted, he also stated that I can work till just 3pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays also. I went back to the research lab to let Margie, my supervisor of the change of hours.
Margie laughed when I told her, and she explained that the boss has been pressured to reduce the budget, and that I had given him the perfect reduction in costs. At 3pm I finished work and went to pick up Tom, I had messaged the school earlier to let Tom know that I would be picking him up, and we went to the café for a snack, before we headed home.
We went online to do a bit of research on nature board walks, and we printed a few articles that we found, we also did some research on prefabricated flat pack homes, of which there was one company in Adelaide that did this style of building. We spent some time looking at their website, and I decided that I needed to do some more detailed measurements of the cave and holes so we could put together a plan for a house. The following afternoon, once I had picked up Tom from school, we went directly to a hardware store, and after a bit of searching I found what I needed, a laser light surveyor, which can give me dead accurate measurements of the cave.
Although it was very expensive, I knew that I could use the equipment for laying out the raised walkway, so I made the purchase and we went home to prepare making a fast trip to the island after lunch on Wednesday. After Tom went to bed, I spent a few hours reading up on how to use the equipment, so I was able to work the equipment effectively.
Tom had a sports day on Wednesday afternoons, and I managed to get permission for Tom to have the afternoon off from school, and when I collected him from school at lunch time Wednesday, we made the road trip north to Louth Bay, and took the barge across to the island, eating a packed lunch during the journey.
Starting up the bikes as soon as we arrived, we rode up to the top and went straight to the main cavern hole, I went down first and Tom lowered the equipment down to me before he came down also. After a few adjustments, I had the survey equipment as central to the cavern as I could, and with Tom having the note book, I began to take measurements of the cavern, with the diameter and height of the cavern, and then the same for the cavern roof hole.
Tom wrote down all the measurements as I called them out, and we went down to the water cavern and did the same, taking measurements from the cavern beach. Once we had finished that, I took measurements of the cavern from the ledge, and also measurements of the tunnel to the other hole. Once we had completed all the work, we returned to the surface, and rode the bikes back down to the beach, where we covered the bikes and loaded the equipment onto the barge and we made our way back to the mainland, and we were soon on our way back to Port Lincoln, arriving just before dark.
When we arrived home, I began to prepare dinner, while Tom who had seen the manual on the survey equipment, sat down and began reading it. About half an hour later, I noticed that Tom was sitting at the dining table with his laptop computer, and I went up to see what he was doing. What I saw on the screen was quite a shock, a 3D layout of the caves and tunnels. “How on earth, did you manage to do that” I asked Tom.
“Easy, the survey equipment has a memory card, which I transferred to my laptop, the manual includes a CD, which I loaded onto the computer, and it translated the data into a digital map” Tom explained, I nodded as I continued to look at the screen. “Tom can you produce a digital map of just the main cavern, including the roof hole and the three tunnel doorways? I asked, and Tom smiled and within a few minutes he had produced what I asked.
“Save that to a memory stick please” so we can start designing a possible layout for our home” I asked and Tom did as I asked, before shutting down the computer, while I began serving dinner, and we sat down to eat. A few minutes later Tom put his fork down, “Uncle, what would you like to have in our new home?” he asked me, and I thought about it for a while.
Well I guess nice big bedrooms, with walk-in-robes and a maybe we can have bathrooms in the house, if we can sort out a way of dealing with water and toilet waste, a library and study would be good, a nice kitchen and dining room, a laundry, a power room, to hold the solar batteries and regulator, a lounge room, and a recreation room” I suggested.
The next morning after taking Tom to school, I raced home before work, to collect the laptop, so in my spare time I could work on the project, but I was surprised when I noticed that the computer had been left in sleep mode, and once I had it going I saw that Tom had already made up a suggested layout plan for our underground home.
During my short lunch break, I spent most of it studying the hexagon shaped house and its layout that Tom had made, and I liked what he had done. Everything was very large, with the house being 5 metres deep, with a 2-metre wide veranda, and he had also set out a 6-metre wide central garden, and the remaining 10-metres I was guessing would be lawn or landscaping.
I went online and looked at possible landscaping for the garden and I found a company in Adelaide who sell a variety of advanced trees, ready for transporting and transplanting. Looking at the list of trees available, I found a 4-metre high and 3-metre wide weeping peppermint tree, which I thought would be an ideal centre piece for the garden, I just wasn’t sure how much soft soil was on the ground of the cavern, as it could just have a small amount of soil and the rest is hard limestone rock.
The tree has a 2-metre diameter root ball, which meant a lot of digging was required before planting could happen, so I decided that I needed to investigate the ground and soil type before I could order any plants. As lunch break came to a close, I was reminded by a work colleague that this weekend included a public holiday Monday, plus a bonus short day on Friday, that being tomorrow.
As soon as work was over for the day, I went and collected Tom from school, and we spent the next two hours driving all over the city to find some equipment that I needed for the weekend, that being a heavy-duty winching tripod, a jack hammer, a couple of shovels, a large petrol generator, and a small dingo loader, plus a trailer to carry it all in. I also called Jack to cancel work for this weekend, saying that Tom and I had other plans because of the long weekend, and he sounded very disappointed with this news.
The next morning, I gave Tom a note to take to school with him, asking the school to excuse him from afternoon classes, as I had managed to arrange a medical and counselling appointments from 1pm onwards, and that I would collect him at 12.15pm. It was all a lie, but the only way I could think of to get him away from school early. I finished work at 12 noon, and I went directly to the school to pick up Tom, before going home to change, and hitch up the trailer.
Half an hour later we arrived at the boat ramp and drove straight onto the barge, and made way for the island, arriving there soon after 1pm, as we ate a packed lunch on the way. On the barge I had a 44-gallon drum of fuel and a hand pump, for the quad bikes, which we refuelled and brought down to the barge. With the vehicle on the beach, we transferred everything on the trailer to the two smaller trailers, and we slowly and carefully took them up to the top, and down to the central cavern hole, before returning to the barge to pick up all of our camping gear, as we would be camping in the cavern this time.
I decided to turn my mobile phone off, in case Jack tried to call, and we spent the rest of the afternoon, setting up the tripod, and lowering everything down into the cavern, including all of our camping gear. First thing I did was to setup the solar panels on the surface and run the wires down the hole to the batteries, so we could have some light, as it gets dark very quickly in the late afternoon. While I was doing this, Tom set up the swags and the popup gazebo, and he went up top to collect some rocks from down at the beach and some fire wood, so as to make a camp fire, which he had started just as I finished with the lights.
We relaxed and settled into a quiet evening by the camp fire, and we cooked dinner, cleaned up and went to bed early, as we both had a busy two and a bit day ahead of us.
When I woke up in the morning, Tom was already out of bed, and when I saw his towel missing, I guessed that he went for a swim, and ten minutes later Tom appeared with a big smile on his face, “Nothing like a cold swim first thing in the morning” he said and he went to get changed into some fresh clothes, while I began cooking breakfast.
With a printout of the plans that Tom had designed, we measured out the edge of the house, including the verandah, and with some spray paint, we marked it on the sand, we also determined the exact centre of the cavern. Next with the ends of the shovels, we started prodding the ground to see if it is just sand or if there is limestone rock as well. After about fifteen minutes, we worked out that the centre of the cavern was mostly sand, while further out, it became very had rock.
Getting the Dingo loader started, I began to did some the sand away from the centre of the cavern, the noise of the Dingo echoed in the cavern, making it very noisy, and after an hour I decided to stop, to give our ears a rest. So far, I had managed to dig a 5-metre wide and 1.5-metre deep hole in the centre of the cavern, and with the sand piled up beside the hole, made it close to a 3- metre deep hole.
I left the Dingo in the hole, as I planned to lift it out with the tripod winch, looking at the hole from on top of the pile, I worked out that it was deep and wide enough for the willow tree to be planted. Back on top, we drove the bikes down to the beach, and we put the vehicle on the barge, with the large trailer, and we set off on a three-hour trip over to the capital.
On the way, I called the nursery that I had checked online, and they were happy to prepare the weeping peppermint for travel. Once we arrived at the nursery, I looked around at the other trees they had, as well as other plants, and I selected five medium sized blue-gum Eucalypts, to plant around the weeping peppermint, and I also bought some Boronia shrubs, Tee-Tree shrubs and some WA Leschenaultia plants.
Once we had all the plants loaded on the trailer and back of the vehicle, we set off to a hardware store, where I bought a 4-metre diameter round poly tank, six large rolls of ¾ inch poly pipe and all the required fittings that I needed.
Finally, with a very heavy load, we returned to the barge, and made the long journey back to the island, arriving shortly after 4pm. With the vehicle and trailer on the beach, we parked the bike & trailer beside it, and with a lot of effort, we managed to roll the willow onto the trailer, with the branches over hanging the back, so to protect the branches, we decided to attach the second bike trailer behind the first, to keep the branches from dragging on the ground, and we connected the other bike to the front of the other bike. With the tree secured to the trailers, with a lot of slow and careful manoeuvring, we managed to get to the top of the island safely, and with a stop-over at the well to give the tree a drink, we finally arrived at the top of the cavern.
Copyright 2018 Preston Wigglesworth, All Rights are Reserved