Secret Kuitpo Business
[This week, another hidden delight on the Fleurieu — Kuitpo Forest.]
One Sunday, the T-K Team with Mrs. T (my mum) set off for Kuitpo forest. 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 family day.
We piled into The Ford station wagon and cruised down past Clarendon taking the road to Meadows.
After my faulty and human navigation skills led us astray (we turned down a road too early), we did a U-turn, and trundled back to the Meadows Road. There we sailed to the next turn off, this one sign-posted, white letter on brown, to Kuitpo. I apologised for leading us astray while my husband reminded me that 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 before and had found a clearing for a 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, no, we can only have fires in designated fire-rings.’
‘And where are these rings?’ Mr. K asked.
‘Around,’ I said. ‘We have to drive around.’
We circled the campgrounds twice. Every clearing furnished with a fire-ring was filled with jolly campers and families munching on their chops and sausages. Cars guarded the rings where the occupants had finished lunch and gone for a hike.
We crawled past a clearing surrounded by a ring of trees but no fireplace.
Mr. K sighed, ‘If only I’d packed the portable barbeque.’
‘Let’s go to the bakery at Meadows,’ I said.
‘Why not?’ Mum chimed.
‘What a shame they’ve spoilt it with these rules,’ my younger son said.
My older son sighed. ‘It won’t be the same.’
‘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,’ Mr. K 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.’
Mr. K shook his head and then exited the Chookarloo Camping ground.
We sped 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 alfresco area, begging us to sit there. 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 cows nibbling on grass in the paddocks, horses grazing in the field and the gnarled eucalypt tress of such character. 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 taken up 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. 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 in spite 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 fire, I got time to spend with my daughter, husband and my grandsons. That’s what I wanted to do.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019
Feature Photo: Sun through pine trees at Kuitpo forest © L.M. Kling 2010
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