Keep Calm and Carry ON in KI

It is a delightful, calm Friday evening on the ferry to Kangaroo Island and we are laden up for a holiday from heaven with adult children and adorable grand-daughter Scarlett, a nine month old bundle of joy.

Our destination is American River where we will stay in a holiday house which has not been visited for 18 months.   Daughter-in-law has planned the weekend down to the last nappy change, with bundles of baby clothes, bed linen, food, drink, vegetables, fruit, bottles, baby formula and two bags of clothes and shoes.

However, idyllic holidays have a habit of throwing up surprises to test the calmest nerves.  Upon arrival, we reconnect the electricity, unload the car, pack the refrigerator, make the beds and relax. It isn’t until one of us uses the toilet that we discover that there is no water. “No worries,’’ says adult son. “I will discover the cause and rectify.’’ This American River haven has no mains water and the water supply is pumped from two huge above-ground water tanks into the house.

Five minutes later he rushes into the house yelling his head off, jumping up and down, pulling off his shoes and tearing off his jeans and we watch in fits of laughter as myriad black bull-ants pour like treacle onto the white tiled floor.

“I trod on an ant hill, and they invaded me!’’ he exclaims. “We will have to wait until morning to switch on the water.

“Well, we have water in the baby’s bottle and water in the kettle, so we will be fine overnight,’’ says Scarlett’s mum.

I am on night duty, so Vanessa, my daughter-in-law  tells me how to pour out 25 per cent of the cold water from the bottle and refill it up to the 220 ml mark with boiling water.

“She will wake somewhere between 2 and 3 am,’’ she adds.

In the dim night light I watch our sleeping beauty awash with happiness.  At 3am, Scarlett wakes with the ferocity of a fog horn. She is fiercely hungry.

In a half-daze at this dreadful hour when the kettle whisles I top up the cold water and look aghast as the clear plastic bottle turns a murky green.

Saturday night dinner at Aurora Ozone Hotel, Kingscote, KI.

“Yuk, it’s green!,’’ I mutter in shock.
The kettle water  is slimey.

“Heck I reckon that’s poisonous!” I muse.  At this pivotal point baby’s dad arrives to see why Scarlett is making such a racket at  her bottle’s delay.

“She is used to 45 second bottles,” he says. “That’s how long a microwave takes.”  (Our first discovery here was that the microwave doesn’t work.)

We agree instantly that this mixture would surely poison precious babe. But we have no other water.

“We will need to go to the camping ground on the foreshore,’’ I grumble.  Luckily, I know where facilities are in American River.) Baby, by this time, has worked out something is amiss and has upped her pitch.

We deposit struggling child with mum in bed and with her screams ringing in our ears, we take  the car into the black pitch of night with tall, empty jug in hand.

The collected water is boiled on the stove (it takes 15 minutes), bottle is washed and then its 200ml steaming contents are placed into into the freezer.  A long 25 minutes later, (time spent creatively trying to placate grizzly grand-daughter),  formula is added and  bottle is stuffed into baby’s mouth.   In  the silence, I sit and soak up this delicious moment as Scarlett guzzles her milk. Time flips back 30-odd years when I held her dad, who woke every night until he was three, and I think what a blessing is family and precious grand-children who let us relive snippets of the joys of raising children.  It’s 4am as I gently lay this gorgeous little girl, now blissfully sleeping, back into her cot.  But, I am wide awake counting my blessings and I take an hour to drift off to sleep.

However, another shock awaits as we wake to an idyllic sunrise,  blue skies and unseasonal warm autumn weather for May. Birds sing and the world seems wonderful again.

Bright-eyed once more, adult children walk downstairs to make a startling discovery. Those bull-ants have built a huge kingdom alongside the house and have made a feast of the pipes to the pump. “It’s stuffed,’’ declares my son. “The pipes are shredded. There will be no pumped water this weekend.’’

“How can bull-ants do that?” I ask. “They would have eaten me alive if I had fallen on their nest.”

Well, what does one do in waterless circumstances on such a beautiful place of natural beauty as Kangaroo Island? We take to the road visiting its tourist highlights – Flinders Chase Information Centre, Admiral’s Arch, Remarkable Rocks and Vivonne Bay.  Wherever we went, the good folk of KI heated up Scarlett’s water in the microwave and she drank on the road.

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