Within a few days Yollana had decided that we didn't need five volunteers this late in the season so she asked Danny to make other arrangements by the end of the week. I helped her by calling multiple volunteering stations around the island. The only one I didn't call, called me.
His name was Graham and I had briefly met him once before when he was delivering jam to the cafe. He was our closest neighbor (a rough ten minutes up the road) and the island's own fruit and honey distributor. When he called I mentioned having an extra volunteer that needed a place to stay. Within the hour he was on our doorsteps, making himself a cup of tea. He had a very brief conversation with Danny and then decided he could use her for the week as a volunteer at his place. The two of them made arrangements for him to pick her up at eleven the following morning.
The next day we learned a lot from Graham. We learned that Danny would have a cabin all to herself and that his place had wifi and meat. We all beamed with jealousy at the sound of this.
In addition to working with honey and fruits Graham also said he took his volunteers with him when he did deliveries so they could see most of the island in just a few days. This was a better deal than our current situation.
After a while we took a group picture and gave Danny big hugs. We wished her luck and watched as her and Graham got in the truck. Right as we turned to walk off Graham shouted out to us to come over for a BBQ tonight at his place. The four of us looked at each other with big eyes and hope. Matthew walked back towards the truck and said he thought that sounded great. We hadn't had meat in several weeks and our bodies were craving it. Maggie piped in to say she would bring a salad and I was thankful for that because I had been hastily trying to think of something to bring other than wine.
With that we waved goodbye and told Danny and Graham we would see them that evening. When the dust had settled we looked around and realized it was now just the four of us. 2 girls. 2 boys. The perfect balance for deciding on the genre of movie we would watch at night. Together we stood in the sun, talking about our freedom and the work ahead of us.
That evening after work we all showered and put on our nicest outfits. Maggie and I even went so far as to put on a little mascara. This was the first time we'd left our property in quite a while and we were all a bit excited to be getting out of routine.
When we pulled up to 618 Huckman Road, we were a bit confused as to where the actual house was. We saw a bunch of old machinery and cars scattered about the yard. To the right there was a metal building with a drapery extending out to the lawn. Next to that there was a car parked on some cement and another little building that looked like part of a used trailor house. There seemed to be no organization. I couldn't find a front door or even a sidewalk. We all looked around and finally decided the mass of the buildings were probably where we neeeded to go. We parked the car in what might have been a driveway and when we got out of the car we saw Graham lifting a piece of plastic around the door as if to invite us in.
Inside was just as hard to figure out as the outside had been. I greeted Graham, showed him the wine I had brought and then looked around. Immediately in front of the door there was a huge metal stove where Graham was cooking all sorts of meat. I saw pork chops and sausage and onions all simmering and popping lightly. My mouth watered and we all licked our lips I'm pretty sure.
I looked to the left and saw Danny sitting at a messy table playing on her phone. When she looked up she raised her hands and yelled “yay!” She was happy to see us. Across the table sat an older gentlemen. He introduced himself as Wayne. While the others filed in behind me I looked for a spare seat and found one just out from the table a bit. It was wedged in between an end-table with a box of snakeskins in it and a furnace which was warm and inviting.
I looked around behind my chair, trying to make sense of the room. It was a long rectangle shaped space with no walls, dividers or walkways really. It was all open, yet it was all cluttered. I saw tables full of all sorts of trinkets but nothing distinguishable. There was boxes piled up and big piles of stuff. I took my seat and looked above the wooden table where Danny and Wayne were sitting. The wall behind it had three paintings on it all side by side and squished together. One was a man hunting doves over a lake, the second one was a nautical boat scene and the third one was a landscape of trees and mountains. They were all different and of no distinctive style. Beneath the pictures lay other piles of stuff and then the table was pushed against the wall. There were only two free chairs at the table so Pierre sat down and Matthew and Maggie kind of danced around, not sure where to sit.
Before long Wayne was pouring us wine and asking us where we were all from. I had been caught up in my surroundings so I had missed some of the conversation but I looked up to see Danny flipping through a book of maps. She pointed to her hometown, or city, rather, and then gave the book to Matthew. I watched him flip through until he found Oklahoma and pointed to a small town called "Frederick."
I asked Wayne where he was from and he said he had lived all over the east coast in Australia and had been in Kangaroo Island for the past 16 years. He was recently retired and absolutely loving it. Wayne was an adorable old gent. He wore a button up shirt, brown slacks, a pair of glasses and a mustache that made him look handsome for his age. Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought so because later in the night he told us his girlfriend was only 42 years old. There was a 29 year difference between the two of them. He pulled out a picture and pointed out a man with two 40-year old girlfriends, himself, and his girlfriend. She was tall and blonde and leggy. Afterwards he poured us each another glass of wine.
Dinner was just as amazing as we had hoped for. We had sausage, lamb chops and Maggie's tuna salad. For desert Graham surprised us by giving us each a bag of his best-selling chocolates. It was a native fruit, a muntrie, covered in chocolate. The combination was delectable, especially when paired with the Shiraz in front of us.
In conversation, Graham said his interest was making sure KI kept a good reputation with visitors and backpackers. When he hears of a backpacker feeling angry and sour towards the island he tries to pick them up and personally take them on a tour around the island to ensure they enjoy the island as it should be. It was his effort to keep the KI spirit alive. I thought of it as a sort of grassroots PR. Branding in the most fundamental level. That was something a lot of business people needed to understand.
Pierre talked about tonight being an authentic backpacker experience because we were having a barbie with a local. He went on to say how he hated how most young people took backpacking as an excuse to party. “They party in every big city up the east coast and then they go home. That is not how you experience Australia. You have to live amongst the locals, go to the outback and see stuff. You can party back home so why even come here and spend all the money?” He was very passionate about his words.
The night was a great relief from our regular routine. We all left in good spirits and thanked Graham for his hospitality, offering to return the favor in the near future.