Day 5 - Thursday 13 November 2008

Itís still incredibly windy when I wake up this morning at around 9am, oops, thatís a bit of a late sleep in. The clouds are streaming past my front window. I bump into Mike looking for some Hardie Plex. I actually woke up at 7.30 am and just lay in bed thinking about stuff and the next thing I know it's 9.

I rush off to breakfast over at Q3, everyone except Sue is about to go off and start work for the day. I munch down some breakfast of cereal, baked beans and a coffee, then its off to Q1 with Sue to start clearing up the old linoleum that's piled up there. And itís a huge pile. John joins us after 20 minutes. Itís a very dirty, dusty, filthy job. We wear respirators and gloves but the dust gets into everywhere. Thereís loose cardboard found under the linoleum that we take out the back, but with the linoleum we are able to crack into halves by folding it onto itself and into smaller squares, then it gets packed into large plastic bags ready for transportation off the island.

Outside the island is shrouded in low cloud that continues to race across the surface. It looks quite bizarre. Just about the entire colour of the island is gone and everything is a rich variation of tones in grey. We stop for morning tea, which for us ends up being lunch, as we continued to work throughout the morning missing the proper morning tea. Lunch is pumpkin soup and goes down very well.

After eating, and the cleaning up ritual that follows, the three of us resume our job down at Q1 for a few more hours until we have finished. John again talks to us about the 1967 fires that occurred on the island. He spoke of the fire coming across the island starting just below the weather station, racing down the hill towards Q1, blazing either side of the horses stable before heading off to the north end of the island where it swings around and heads back up the island burning all of the grass in its path. (Or maybe not, no, I think I just made that last bit up.) On that day, he said, a navy ship was sent to Tasmania for Regatta day, the HMS Derwent, and it had to send 20 sailors to the island to help clean up as well as bring feed for the horse who waited patiently by the side of what was its stables that was eventually consumed by the fire.

He also tells us that on the day before the fire the winds were coming in from the north and that if the fire was on this day, then everything would have been wiped out. He also tells us of battling the fire, and preparing Q1, when the fire came through and how at one point became starved of oxygen for a brief moment. We all feel relieved that there isnít a fire on us now. But we also feel like we have achieved something upon completion of bagging up all of the linoleum.

My back is aching and continues to be sore all afternoon. I take some photos of Q1, focusing on its beautiful dark and lonely corridors. The walls of adjacent rooms in Q1 are painted light blue, yellow and green and subtly reflect into each other against dark shadows and strong highlights from the small single windows of each room. Itís desolate eerie and incredibly moody. The house is empty of furniture but seems to be full of character and without a doubt many memories. The walls are amazing. The three of us eventually make our way back to Q3.

Itís about 4pm, the clouds are still pouring across the island. We have afternoon tea and the group decides, minus myself, Alan and Mike, to head off for a walk. Itís my turn to make dinner tonight so I stay in the kitchen and begin preparing the bolognaise sauce to go with pasta. The group returns after a few hours and shortly afterwards the clouds finally disperse revealing a beautiful hour-long period of sunrise. The sky radiates its colour on the grasses. The bright white exterior of the lighthouse changes colour reflecting the deep shades of the sun in a procession of immensely coloured natural splendour. Everyone gets their cameras out and starts taking many photos. Many moods are revealed by the changing light, the clouds shifting slowly as the wind changes, every situation saturates the mood with complexities of introverted feeling and emotion. How does one describe these dramatic changes that are going on, this unmatched beauty, rawness and physicality. I need to spend more time thinking about the island and not just looking at it, absorbing it, memorising it and translating it. Just as the final colour in the sky is disappearing, and the darkness is settling in, dinner is ready. We all crowd around the table again and eat. An apricot and apple crumble follows dinner; all in all itís another fine way to finish off the day, with full bellies and tired and aching limbs.

During the linoleum extraction, I collect a few hundred pages of old womanís weekly and womanís day magazines from the 1960ís with the most hilarious graphic design work and imagery. Perhaps this could form the basis of artworks later down the track as too with the interiors that I photographed today.

I clean my teeth and wander back down the track to Q2. The night is clear, after about an hour of heavy rain whilst dinner was on. The moon is full and everything is lit up in its glow. I try to take a photo of it but its just too dark to work. I find a way to stop the rattle on my window but thereís an open door somewhere in the house that creaks as it shakes as well as slamming three times, which freaked me out a little bit. It goes quiet finally and Iím off to sleep.