Wednesday, July 3, 2013

At The Shack, at last

imageThe Shack is a tiny, old, weather-beaten dwelling at the end of a dead-end road, on a little known stretch of beach on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia.

As I write this I look out to the west, across Spencer Gulf, the beach only meters from my window. The sea is very calm and a small swell laps the shore as the sun heads towards the horizon…. I have been for a walk on the beach, as you can see by the sand and seaweed still on my feet! Apologies for the salty window!

As the now shopless (another story!) “town” gradually is found by city-dwellers keen to build a mansion to match their city lives (a good 200 kms away), our shack, in its original condition, is one of only a few to remain. But matter it does not because no-one can take away the view and the peace it gives all who relax here. As the houses back behind the shack grow ever taller to see over those of us with a front row position, I shrug and don’t care a jot.

This tiny, simple shack holds an enormous place in the hearts of my family. Almost every school holiday, all year round, we packed the car and headed to the shack; in summer for a month or more. Never having owned a motor boat, the beach in front of the shack would be littered with an odd collection of much-loved boards, canoes, a tinny and a funny, old, green catamaran we called Kermit.

There is no mobile phone coverage, no internet and not even any TV signal reaches us. I used to try to remember to listen to the gardening show on the radio, but I soon forgot what day it was. We don’t have a landline here either and no visiting child was ever allowed any electronic toys. Who needs such things with the sea literally at our doorstep? We have rain water and electricity. The rain that falls here, far away from cities, I am sure is a tonic for life; the salty sea spray falling with the rain, I think, keeping the tank water pristine.

Not much changes on the two and a half hour drive from Adelaide, except the farm sheds get bigger annually and the colour of the land changes as the grain crops mature through the seasons. But today I noticed something that, on reflection, made me laugh out loud; suddenly the roads have signs and names! Up until now I had not realised that most of the roads around here were nameless until I thought about how we used to describe a route to a beach or town, to a visitor…..”Oh you turn left on the good, dirt road by the broken down Telstra hut…. don’t take the one before because it gets all rutted/ turns into a farm track/ just ends in the sand dunes….. and if you get to the paddock with just a stone chimney standing, then you’ve gone too far…. etc”

I feel quite peeved about these signs. Who made up the names? Why do we suddenly need road signs now? Can’t somewhere in the world be left a bit ambiguous and unmarked? Well, there are no roads in front of the shack, so I really shouldn’t be so bothered.

The clouds have cleared from the horizon and there might be a nice sunset. Time to get dinner….. I sooooo love the oven here! It is a quiet, solid, Simpson 2001 (built in the days when 2001 was way in the future!). I found it at a second hand shop; it and its identical twin. The man said that each of them had things wrong with them but someone handy could combine the 2 and get one good one out of it. So I got them really cheap, we brought them over here on the trailer and my then husband did a fabulous job, as I knew he would. The kitchen in the shack is too small for an oven! So, it sits neatly inside the back door, next to a fishing rod and the broom, which is great in summer because the heat doesn’t get into the rest of the shack when I am cooking.

imageA flimsy, painted cupboard divides part of the living room from my bedroom. I wake in the morning, throw back the curtains and sit in bed with a coffee, watching the sea begin the day with me.

It is glassy calm and already dolphins can be seen close to shore, one just lying still and basking in the warm sun before leisurely cruising around, looking for breakfast.

We bought the shack as it was, fully fitted out with furniture and sheets and cutlery, all very dated but comfortable. We have hardly changed a thing and now the chairs are called retro and probably worth holding onto!

I did bring over lots of kitchen utensils, good knives, baking requirements and pots and pans because holidays are a time when I love to cook and it was here that I learned to make do. I would bring cook books from the library but the ingredients were never available in rural S.A. so I had to improvise and what fun that was. Hugh even started making gorgeous cakes here and selling them to the neighbours as there was nothing half as good for sale for 200kms!

But that was all a lifetime ago. Still, nothing is better than time at the shack.

Life is good. Get there fast, then take it slow…..

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                                   Snaps from a few days alone in paradise

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3 comments:

AlexF said...

Oh I miss balgowan!

Michelle said...

Oh Kate, that sounds like heaven, a panacea for the modern hustle and bustle of Cygnet.

Such a beautiful piece of writing.

africanaussie said...

wow Kate, you live in a beautiful part of Tasmania, and then you holiday at this little shack on the beach. It looks awesome - enjoy your time there!