Karen picked us up in the pouring rain in Port Augusta and after packing a huge amount of shopping into the trailer, we set off to Hawker via the vets where we had to pick up O’Malley who had just had his hip pinned after unsuccessfully launching himself from one tree to another. He didn’t seem particularly impaired as he climbed over the seats and bodies in the back of the car.
We completed the journey in pitch black with Karen providing a running commentary on what we couldn’t see. On arriving at the house we were shown to a little 2 berth caravan which would be our base for the next 6 weeks. We had to negotiate a rather large puddle in front of the door in which Paul kindly placed some planks to provide a reasonably dry access. Inside, the bijou berth was a little damp, as was all our luggage from standing in the rain at PA whilst Karen drove past and left us getting soaked for half an hour whilst she fetched the fruit and veg, but a heater was soon delivered and we started to dry out. After being caught in heavy rain in PA, our nocturnal river at the motel and the washing which was still not dry from Wintinna we had quite a lot of drying out to do.
Once we were settled we joined everyone for a meal around a large family table. Karen and Paul run the business, assisted by Sam. Their children, Sara and Luke, mingle with the myriad of people who come and go through this household. Their other son, Joe, is studying physiotherapy in Adelaide. Jasmine is a Kiwi who has been here a month and Anise is Aussie and despite me thinking otherwise, had only been around for 4 days. Hannah also helps out but has been laid up with a heavy cold and Shanney, an American, arrived in PA the same day as us. The meal was a succession of introductions and backgrounds, instantly muddled and forgotten before tiredness took over and we retired to a bed strewn with beautifully ornate fabric quilts, almost like a bedouin tent.
The following day we were up fairly early to start setting up for the trek due to start the day after. Jas, Anise, Roger and I set about clearing, cleaning and re-packing the chuck wagon in what turned out to be a rather biting wind and no sunshine. It was in quite a mess and seemed a little more long-standing than just the uncleared up remains from the previous trek, attributed to the eldest son! Everything had to be packed tightly so that it didn’t all move in transit. This was also designed to enable us to learn both what we had and where it was kept. The menus had been prepared before we arrived and Karen had done the shopping in PA prior to picking us up. Somehow it was all supposed to fit in!
Before it was finished the 2 of us were pulled off to go and pick up some more equipment and deliver other items to the chiller to be kept for the following trek. At the storage container we met 3 young camels who had not yet started training. We then went to Wanoka Station, which is where the treks are based, to load the chiller and deliver equipment to the camp site. We stopped off for a cup of tea with Beryl and Paul, the owners.
On return we were treated to another delicious meal and gluten-free cake! Karen and Luke tend to avoid it as well. It was then another early night ready for an equally early start the following day as we had to sort out and load up the swags before setting off for a 10am start for some students on a 2 hour trip who had been postponed due to wet conditions before the trekking guests arrived at 1.30pm