Friday, 20 July 2012

Struth! Smokehouse Bay a Welcome wash-out

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that three rotary clotheslines and two mangles on wash tubs on the foreshore of a remote island beach might appear a blot on the landscape, but they signal a welcome for those cruising around New Zealand's Great Barrier Island.

Up the coast from Auckland, uninhabited Smokehouse Bay welcomes boaties ashore to a DIY hot bath, to wash and dry their clothes, smoke fish catches in a steel fire shed, cook a barbie, boil the kettle, or tie-up the yacht for low-tide hull cleaning.

The bath's hot water comes from a heater fuelled by wood stacked under the verandah of a shack that also houses everything from spare fan belts to paperbacks, axes, pots and pans. And while our correspondent says the bath refreshingly got rid of the salt of several days sailing, it didn't quite match the luxury of his previous one some days before at Auckland's Accor Mercure.

The Webster family provided Smokehouse Bay's facilities back in the 1960s and family, friends and boating clubs have maintained them since. The island comes under a covenant that deems it open space available for public use in perpetuity, while remaining in private ownership – when a storm washed away the beach it cost $25,000 to restore it, the money coming from the Smokehouse Bay Restoration Fund (PO Box 36117 Northcote, Auckland for details and donations.)

And for bath-users a sign suggests: "Clean the bath when finished, and tell the next dirty person in the queue you've finished".