Rangitoto has never enjoyed facilities found on the main land – water reticulation, sewerage or electricity. Domestic arrangements in the baches were, and still are basic.
Water from roofs is stored in tanks and accessed by a single tap. Cooking was either done outside on a fire or later on coal ranges. Some inventive solutions were found to keep food fresh and away from ants. Safes were hung in trees or stood in cans of water and covered with wet sacks.
Despite these conditions cakes and scones were baked, and roast meals served on Sundays. Fish was constantly on the menu – fresh and smoked. Men’s leisure time was spent fishing. There were plenty of snapper to be had in those days. Children fished with their fathers, learning boating skills. With their friends they swam, explored the bush and collected driftwood for the kitchen fire.
Co-operation, friendship and fellowship are a theme that runs throughout the stories of bach families. Building slipways, boatsheds and excavating a hole for the longdrop or flattening out an outdoor area was heavy work. The men helped each other. Evenings in each other’s baches were spent around the Tilly lamp playing cards or having a singsong.
Christmas and New Year celebrations involved the whole community. Participation in the fancy dress competitions, novelty races, bonfire night, decorated boat flotillas, dinghy and swimming races was always keen. At Rangitoto Wharf the New Year’s Day fishing competition attracted fierce rivalry – the prize was a pennant made by the previous year’s winner.
Community projects, which involved raising money and voluntary work, were undertaken. Prisoners from Mt Eden built the swimming pool at Rangitoto Wharf and the Hall at Islington Bay, with input from the bachholders. Children’s playgrounds, tennis courts and St. John’s Ambulance huts were all provided by funds raised by the communities. The Islington Bay hall, originally a tennis pavilion became the centre for community social activities. Saturday night dances were popular during summer. It was the venue for the Bowling Club and Shack Holders Association meetings.