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.
Copyright May 2018 Preston Wigglesworth, All Rights are Reserved