Introduction – Keswick Island – The Famous Five
Chapter 1 – Beware Dutch Men in Big Hats
Chapter 2 – Flight of Fancy
Chapter 3 – The Arrival
Chapter 5 – Clams, Tides & Bare Hands
Chapter 6 – Drifting & Drowning
Chapter 7 – Blinded!
Chapter 8 – Shark Bait

I am recounting a holiday I had with my family to an uninhabited island when I was 10, please go to the links above for the Intro, Chapter 1 and 2, if you’d like to know more and catch the thread of the story.

….I awake to a strange place, as my eyes come into focus I notice the tin roof above me, and briefly wonder where I am….it doesn’t take long to remember we are in a tin hut on the uninhabited Keswick Island and there’s much exploring to be done!

I scuff scuff out to find mum is in the kitchen…she says I better go outside and see if there’s anything I can do to give Dad a hand. A bit bewildered by my new surrounds and the hint of worry in Mum’s voice, I head out the front door….and there’s my Dad cooking up a real storm….he’s built a roaring fire and makeshift barbeque, and throwing lots of meat on….maybe he’s a bit suntouched or something I think..

I ask if I can do anything to help, and he just says ‘I hope you’re hungry’…..

I never really was the big brekky type, so was a bit perplexed as to what was going on and all this mysteriousness….and strange behaviour…we were cereal people!

It didn’t take long for me to find out what the score was….turns out that Dad was cooking our entire meat rations for the whole two weeks, as we had no way to keep the meat from spoiling, no fridge!!!

The people who had stayed on the island previously, had not refilled the gas bottle for the fridge for us, so we had no power, no fridge, no contact as yet with the outside world by radio, no way of calling for help, and because we’d arrived in the dead of night, it was unlikely that Ernst and Moosh on the neighbouring island of St Bees, would have seen us or know that we were there, and it was too far away to attract their attention….you couldn’t see people from that distance….not til they were about halfway across the channel could you see someone approaching.

So, not only did we have no power, no radio contact, nothing to keep our food from spoiling, but on inspection of the water tank, we discovered it was very low and had little water left, due to a large rust spot that had developed into a gaping hole low down in the tank….

Needless to say, we had a wonderful feast of feasts that morning, steak, sausages, rissoles, etc and I would live for the next two weeks on chocolate caramel slice and powdered milk….refusing to take part in eating goats that dad had to slaughter or clams that still had great hunks of shell in them….I think I would rather have starved… the trouble for me with the other wild food on offer, was I just couldn’t get it down the hatch, without it coming straight back up again!!

Our toileting too, was of a rather unusual nature….and took a little planning…..the toot had to be manually flushed, which meant…two buckets of sea water had to be collected for every time ‘nature called’. In order for the toot to flush one had to pour the two buckets down the hatch each time…

Showering was interesting also, with just a canvas bag…….and little water to go around!

Stay tuned for Chapter 5 tomorrow…..
Clams, tides, and bare hands


© Karin Taylor

Lennox Head, Australia

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