Camp Akuna, at Pikes Crossing, was a long workers hut, or possibly a disused barn, where Gladstone’s boys were sent during school holidays. I think ‘Akuna’ meant ‘Culture Shock’, because it was a little rustic.
The first thing we’d do was select an old horse hair mattress off a teetering pile, then drag it to a spare patch of floor and lay out our sleeping bags. The dust created during this activity could be seen from Wurdong Heights.
The man looking after us, Mr. Holzheimer, had the patience of a saint. Under his smiling guidance, we’d spend our days tramping around the bush, playing games that involved a lot of running, tackling and facial rubbing, swim in the creek, learn how to build fires (then put them out again before we got caught), and hogtie that one annoying kid who appeared at every camp.
In the evenings, we’d line up next to the old water tank for a bracing three second shower because, a) it wasn’t a big tank, b) the water was colder than a penguins’ beak and, c) you were being watched by thirty other boys.
Afterwards, we’d thaw out by a bonfire, singing songs or listening to Mr. H’s stories.
The old building is still there, but it’s no longer used as a camp, and I couldn’t imagine modern kids begging to be sent there; struth, I didn’t want to go there!
But Camp Akuna certainly gave me a lifelong appreciation for clean bedding, piping hot water and showering alone.