FROM KUITPO TO MEADOWS
Everyone, and I mean everyone in Adelaide must celebrate Mother’s Day. And everyone and their mother go out—eat out, picnic out, filling the parks, beaches, hills and car parks. The whole city—and their mothers, jump on the bandwagon of “mother-worship”, the restaurants filled to capacity, and unless you book months in advance, you won’t get a table for you and your mother.
My mother doesn’t like crowds, and our family struggle to organise themselves a few weeks in advance, let alone months. So, with that in mind, my mother has designated the Sunday after Mother’s Day, as her day.
On that Sunday, a week after all the mother-fuss was over, or so we thought, my family and Mum set off for Kuitpo forest (about forty kilometres south-east of Adelaide CBD). After a week of rain which began the previous Sunday, we were treated with the sun shining, no clouds and a clement twenty-two degrees Celsius. Perfect for sitting around a small wood fire and barbeque. Just what Mum and I wanted for our “Mother’s Day”.
We piled into Mum’s station wagon and cruised down past Clarendon taking the road to Meadows.
‘What happened to the others?’ my older son asked.
‘They couldn’t make it. They had other things on,’ I said. I guess there’s always a cost to changing “Mother’s Day” to suit ourselves as mothers.
After my faulty human navigation skills led us astray as we turned down a road too early, we turned and we trundled back to the Meadows Road. There we sailed to the next turn off, this one sign-posted, white letters on brown, to Kuitpo. I apologised for leading us astray while my husband reminded me he knew the way.
Within ten minutes, we rolled into Chookarloo Camping ground. We’d picnicked here for our designated “Mother’s Day” a few years earlier and had found a clearing for a wood-fire with ease. I remembered a happy, though cloudy day, cold, but the company of family warm. The kids collected a stick insect and I took photos.
The sign at the entrance, though, warned of change. I read it and exclaimed, ‘Oh, we can only have fires in designated fire-rings.’
‘And where are these rings?’ Hubby asked.
‘Around,’ I said. ‘We have to drive around.’
We circled the camp grounds twice. Every clearing furnished with a fire-ring was filled with jolly campers and families munching on their chops and sausages. Cars guarded the cement rings where the occupants had finished lunch and gone on a hike.
We crawled past a clearing surrounded by a ring of trees but no fire-place.
‘If only I’d packed the portable barbeque,’ Hubby said.
‘Let’s go to the bakery at Meadows,’ I said.
‘Why not?’ Mum said.
‘What a shame they’ve spoilt Kuitpo with these rules,’ my younger son said.
‘It’s not the same, anymore,’ my older son said.
‘They have the rules because of the fire in Kuitpo a couple of years ago. They’re making sure it doesn’t happen again,’ I explained.
‘Stop complaining, Lee-Anne,’ my husband raised his voice, ‘the rules say you can’t have a fire.’
‘That’s what I was explaining, the National Park are making sure we don’t have another fire. The last one was pretty bad.’
My sons grumbled.
‘We had all this rain.’
‘How’s there going to be a bushfire?’
‘Let’s go to the bakery at Meadows,’ Mum said. ‘Anyway, it’s been a nice drive.’
Hubby shook his head and then exited the Chookarloo Camping ground.
We trekked off to Meadows, parked in the main street and trooped into the bakery. The aroma of fresh baked bread and brewed coffee greeted us. So did a variety of empty tables and chairs in the wide porch area with wall-to-wall views through the glass of the Meadows country-side. We settled down at a long table and basked in the sun shining through the windows.
As we supped on our pies and sausage rolls and sipped our cappuccinos, my younger son gazed out at the majestic gum trees, green hills and people with smiles walking up and down the street.
‘I like it here,’ younger son said. ‘It’s peaceful.’
After a pleasant family time, we wound our way back home. More than once, each of us in the car commented on the stunning scenic drive to and from Meadows: the golden sun glinting through the autumnal leaves of the deciduous trees that line the road, the gnarled eucalypt tress, the cows nibbling on grass in the paddocks and horses grazing in the field. We stopped for my older son to photograph the view of the rolling hills to the sea.
At home, I fired up the brazier. The crowds had commandeered all the fire-rings at Kuitpo, but they couldn’t touch my brazier in my back yard. Let me tell you, we have a country-feel in our back yard. The neighbours’ two huge gum trees with wide girth shade our lawn, parrots congregate and chatter in the branches of those trees, and we even have the occasional koala visit.
My husband cooked the chops and sausages that had been assigned for our lunch in Kuitpo. We had the meat for tea instead. As a family, we sat around the brazier fire and enjoyed a simple barbeque, with a glass of wine. Family stories and adventures were shared into the night.
A perfect end to a perfect day, even though, perhaps as a result of the rule-change at Kuitpo. The secret? We actually talked with each other and listened to each other’s stories.
‘Thank you for a lovely day,’ Mum said, ‘and I mean it. Because going for a drive in the hills, sitting around at the café and then the brazier fire, I got time to spend with my daughter, son-in-law and my grandsons. That’s what I wanted to do.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016
Photo: Willunga Hills near Meadows (c) Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2011