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17th - 29th May 2013

Report of Althorpe Island Visit Friday 17th to Sunday 26th May 2013 Sandie Pritchard

Introduction

This report is written by Sandie, a first-timer, from her perceptive.  This may seem to be a naïve account of the activities and recreation time, but that is how it is.  As evident from the list of participants, Sandie was the only source of female thinking, ideas and handyman skills on the visit, and she held her own.  Apologies for the mixing of the personal and reporting structure.

Participants

  • Sandie Pritchard
  • Michael Pritchard
  • Michiel Lucieer
  • Guy Langham
  •  Nick Humphris
  • Van Penglis

Visit was longer than originally proposed due to inability to secure transport from Althorpe Island to Marion Bay, because of weather and outside influences.

Transportation

The visiting parties were to assemble at Marion Bay marina and jetty carpark by the allocated time of 10:00am Friday 17th May 2013.

Sandie and Michael Pritchard spent the night of Thursday 16th May 2013 at the volunteers hut (after collecting the keys for the Innes National Park Visitors Centre) in the locked maintenance compound of Parks SA in Innes National Park at Stenhouse Bay.  During the time of their stay, Sandie and Michael were also in contact with Mark and Debbie (Parks SA employees).  Accommodation left how it was found; swept and tidy.

Michiel Lucieer and Guy Langham arrived in the same vehicle, while Van Penglis and Nick Humphris arrived in their separate private vehicles.  The participant’s four vehicles were stored in the maintenance compound for the duration of the visit to the Island.  There was a slight holdup with Mark requiring more fuel to ensure a safe trip from the main craft to the Island.

Transport to Althorpe Island     Friday 17th May 2013 was via a chartered fishing boat, from Marion Bay. Just the captain, Mark was present to assist with the loading and unloading of the craft.  Trip took approximately 1 hour.  Calm seas.

After loading the boat, the craft left Marion Bay at approximately 11:00 am.  The trip to Althorpe Island was uneventful, with all the participants feeling varied emotions in anticipation of what to expect for the next week and the condition of the accommodation.

Proposed return date: Thursday 23rd May 2013.

Transport from Althorpe Island    Sunday 26th May 2013 was again via chartered fishing boat, to Marion Bay.  Mark and a deck hand were available for the movement of participates on the trip back to the mainland and civilisation. Trip took approximately 1 hour.  Calm seas.

Access to the top of the Island was via the ‘zigzag’ path. The condition of the path was rugged and torturous; 370 metres long and 90 metres in elevation. Thankfully there were 3 resting areas on the way up.  Due to the unknown conditions and physical exertion required, Sandie overdressed and had heat exhaustion by the time she reached the top.  While Sandie recovered in the main cottage, the remainder of the luggage and food was retrieved by the rest of the participants.  Due to the accommodation being vacant for a period of time, there was an infestation by the common mouse.  See Native Inhabitants of Althorpe Island

Catering / Food

All participants had various tastes and diets, so all brought their own requirements.  Nick Humphris was on a special diet, so he catered for himself; although he did participate in the sharing of the caught fish, prepared with no added flavouring. See list below for further details on caught fish.

Sandie and Michael provided the meat for the visit, with Michiel and Guy with leaning towards vegetarian and Van also on the omnivore side of eating habits.

Dinner was provided on the first night by Van, Spag Bog, which he had prepared before the visit and reheated as the first meal in the main cottage for many months.  Dishes were done by everyone, without too many complaints.  One benefit of spending time with a bunch of SNAG’s (Sensitive New Age Guy).

With the prospect of having to stay a few extra days and the food supply getting a bit on the light side, it was decided that it was time to get the fishing rods into action.  Fishing rods and equipment were lacking and a very bad state of condition.  Van and Michiel had bought their personal gear and some was discovered in the accommodation complex. Michael Pritchard has made a suggestion that a selection of fishing lines, rigs and rods be kept in the main cottage for use by the ‘Friends’ when they are on the Island and for security (food and against theft) reasons.

The first fish caught was by Michael Pritchard with the result of the various fishing expeditions being:

  • Squid    3   
  • Whiting 4
  • Flathead 1
  • Rock Cod 3

There were quite a few discussions on the provision of a community cupboard or a box for people who run aground, which contained food that can be stored for long periods of time, long use by dates and provide food which is brought by many and is therefore returned to the mainland unused.  It was unanimously decided that Sandie would provide a list of food for the community cupboard and food that would provide emergency rations for the times the stays on the Island is longer than expected.  This list is open to revision, can be added to, various variety suggestions, the list goes on...

Communications

  • Sandie
    Mobile phone - connection problems from 23rd May
    Laptop computer - too old and slow.
  • Michiel
    Mobile phone - only one connected and working.
    Laptop computer - internet via Guy Langham’s wireless connection.
  • Guy
    Mobile phone - no connection
    Laptop computer - internet with wireless connection.

Television set (digital) was present in the main cottage.  Digital antenna was installed outside, and connected to the device.  Reception was good the first night, but as the weather changed and the adventure went on the standard and quality of reception decreased.  The last few nights of the visit, the only satisfactory reception was received by Guy Langham with his wireless connection via his PC, so the television was not used for the rest of the visit.  He would download ABC News to keep the participants informed of what was happening on the mainland and across the world.  This was a very relaxing and provided time for reflection and ‘bonding time’ for the participants of the committee with the exchange of ideas.

During this time, there were discussions on what people were going to do and participate in on the following day.

Vegetation Control

There was no evidence of Poa fax on the Island.  Many attempts were made to locate this plant via the use of the GPS co-ordinates left by the last ‘Friends’ who visited and located the plant initially. Maybe it is hibernating for the winter as the picture taken for identification appeared dead and the photo was taken in summer.

During the visit, all participants took part in various ‘hunt and destroy’ Boxthorn expeditions. With Michiel and Van the main hunters and most agile, from the start of the visit, it was decided to begin to start looking on The Hump and along the cliff faces.  Some of the reasons they had to venture afar were due to the previous control carried out be various ‘Friends’ groups on their visits.

Total of control

African Boxthorns        112
Mallow             49

Native Inhabitants of Althorpe Island

On arrival at the main cottage, a nesting Cape Baron Goose (with the male keeping guard) was sighted from the main path; approximately 20 metres.  They were not all that disturbed by the presence of the participants.  A further 2 were sighted on the helipad near the Lighthouse.  The landing strip area, both ends, were also used by the Cape Baron Geese for nesting areas.  An estimation of 14 geese utilising the Island for breeding purposes has been made.  An Australasian Gannett was seen be resting by the beginning of the ‘zigzag’ path, unfortunately it was discover dead the next day.

New Zealand Fur Seals were sighted on the western side of the Island.  A seal lion was seen from the beginning of the ‘zigzag’ path, near where the Gannett was sighted.  Michael Pritchard has commented that he has not seen any penguins or evidence of their inhabiting the Island.

The common mouse population was in epidemic proportions.  There were many mouse traps throughout the main living areas of the main cottage, which were cleared often and many times during the day.  The traps in the main living areas were the conventional types with the use of peanut butter rather than cheese.  A number were caught on unbaited traps.  Michiel had his own devised trap with a wine bottle, bucket and oil.  This was a great success, according to Michiel.  Nick had also setup the same system outside with the result of half a bucket every couple of days.  See photo.  There appeared to be a reduction in the number of mice in the house over the time spent in the accommodation.  The dead mice were added to the compost heap to breakdown and become useful as there were no poisons used.

Maintenance preformed on the Island

Nick was able to start the tractor, after a long period of non-use.  It was mobile for a short time, but stopped on the landing strip and refused to restart.  With all pushing, it was returned to the shed.  After much tinkering with the motor and the gear box, it was discovered that major repairs were to be done before the tractor may be useful again.  Measurements were taken and Nick will see if the tractor parts can be procured or made to fit the repair requirements.

Nick also checked the electricity supply for the accommodation complex.  He also installed the new invertor and started the wind turbine to assist with power generation as well as the solar panels.  There were periods of time when the wind turbine was disconnected due to the strength of the winds.   The solar panel connected to cottage 2 was moved next to the panel on the main cottage, to provide for hot water system to the bathroom.  This also included the movement of the solar panels supporting structure and maintaining the stability of the structure in the new position.

The vegetation was pruned and maintained around the main cottage.  The pathway which runs along the back of the three cottages had the overgrown vegetation cleared away.

Despite months of water collection by the tanks connected to the accommodation complex, there was still a need to pump water from other tanks.  At least the pump still works, there were no leaks discovered and the system got a flush.

There was a requirement of the toilet roll holder in the outside convenience of the main cottage to be realigned with the bowl position.  This was undertaken by Guy with outstanding results.

Summary

A lot was maintained, cleared, controlled and achieved.  The recommendation of more than one female within the next visit group would be strongly adviced.  One of the purposes for the visit to the Island was for the committee to relate and understand the personalities of the group; I felt this was achieved and welcomed.  A number of questions have been raised about Althorpe Island, a lot of suggestions were made about what was required to maintain and improve the Island and all were worth consideration by the committee and The Friends of Althorpe Island Conservation Park.