Story and images
Copyright 2003 Garry Searle

Page 2

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We had arrived 30 minutes earlier. As the crow flies, Althorpe is only 150ms from Adelaide. By road its a 3 1/2 hour drive around Gulf St Vincent and down to the heel of Yorke Peninsula. We expectantly unpacked our gear next to the boat ramp. Mark arrived towing the 20ft boat that would take us the 12km from Marion Bay to Althorpe Island. He backed the boat down the ramp and we loaded our gear. Our hopes dropped as he then drove back up the ramp and parked the boat in the carpark. Mark did say that the winds might drop as they often do late afternoon, so we left him to monitor the weather while we went for a drink and introductions with the group. Fortunately Marion Tavern was on the other side of the carpark.

Dave led the group, a working bee with the main aim of painting the late 19th century keepers' cottages. A regular visitor to the island, Dave had bought along Tim. John and Shandor . For Erika this was another trip "home'. Erika lived on the island for 3 years. Her husband John, who couldn't make this trip, had been a keeper between 1978 and 1981, and had grown up on the island when his father kept the light years before. My attraction to the island was slightly different to the others. Whilst they were all interested in the conservation issues of the island, my interest was in the history and preservation of the lighthouse and cottages built in 1879. I would be spending the next week with these 5 strangers. Eating, sleeping, working and leisure time. How would we all get on in the isolation of the island?

We patiently sat round sharing the stories of how we had all come in contact with the "Friends". The Friends of Althorpe Island Conservation Park was inaugurated in 1996. The group is very active working co-operatively with the staff of Innes National Park in the maintenance of the cultural and natural aspects of Althorpe Island. Regular trips are taken out to the island which lies in Investigator Straight approx 8km south of Cape Spencer for the purpose of weed removal and conservation issues, maintaining the buildings, the zigzag path, the unique flying fox and jetty. The group are committed to the welfare of the island's flora and fauna and aid in the recovery from the degrading effects of 100 years of lightstation occupation.
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