After a quiet morning at the Western KI Caravan Park and Wildlife Reserve, Fiona had spent 20 minutes directing trucks before rushing in to return our call.
“We’re getting an outdoor barbecue area ready for our guests,” explained Fiona.
“We had a few delays in getting the materials; we’ve had trouble getting materials across the borders.
“They’ve cut down the amount of trucks passing through [due to COVID-19].”
It hasn’t stopped recovery efforts at the leafy park, though, following the blaze on Kangaroo Island that claimed their office, campground and camp kitchen facilities earlier this year.
A FOCUSED APPROACH
Clearly, it was a devastating blow for the family.
But with cabins and a central patch of flora unscathed, Fiona and Mark Jago could home in on the clean-up, electrifying and plumbing the campsite and reinstating communal cooking facilities.
“We have always had 40 powered sites and 30 unpowered sites. We’ll also start on with half a dozen powered sites soon.
“We also have 10 cabins available for guests,” Fiona explained.
Plans for the new office are drafted, with more shelving than before, ensuring steady supplies for tourists throughout the whole region.
In the meantime, new cabins awaiting delivery will provide defined temporary working and living spaces for the business.
WITNESSING KANGAROO ISLAND’S CHANGING BEAUTY
Workers have been staying at Western KI for a while now.
And despite COVID-19-related slow downs, Fiona and Mark were preparing to welcome their first holiday makers since January 3 when we spoke last week.
“They’re coming from Adelaide. I think they’re just keen to get out [post lockdown],” laughed Fiona.
And now, their guests are poised to see perfect Kangaroo Island in its changing beauty.
“All the yuccas are out in full bloom. Some yuccas are throwing out multiple blooms, with others throwing out just one big bloom.
“You’re not looking past the fires. The rich greens and colours are coming out right now.
“And the beaches are still amazing. They’ve just reopened Seal Bay,” Fiona said.
REGENERATION AT WESTERN KI HOLIDAY PARK
You can see significant regeneration on their own property, too.
“We had showers, and the regrowth now is really taking off.
Their signature walk is still closed but there’s a lot of regrowth and the established bush is in beautiful condition.
“We have a good koala population. We have geese thinking they own the place and we have an echidna. I look at them and I think, ‘how did you get through it?’ But they did.”
SUPPORTING ANIMALS IN RECOVERY
With the help of food donations, Fiona and Mark have fed animals affected by habitat loss with the local kangaroo population welcoming the reprieve.
“They know when it’s five o’clock. We distribute the food from an electric golf cart. They hop into it if we’re running behind,” Fiona laughed.
But with Kangaroo Island ablush it’s now time to step back and let nature take over.
“They’re still wild. They don’t come up to us, you can’t touch them. We won’t be feeding them for much longer.
“It’s now time for them to be real animals, to live within their natural environment.”
RECORDING LIVING HISTORY
For many weeks as fires continued, Fiona and Mark left the state to enjoy a break and formulate a plan.
“After spending a few days in Kingscote with friends, we headed to Victoria to stay with family. We got to see our new grandchild.
“While we were away we had a friend keep an eye on our property. It was nice not having to worry about it all the time. It gave us a chance to plan our next move.
“They’ve done a photo history for us. They’re recording the recovery. And they’re about to do another stage,” Fiona explained.
And, as the family continues to reshape the park, Fiona and Mark will continue to welcome workers and holiday makers, setting their sights for a big September.