There are wonderful things about Flinders Island that are not usually shown by the recent promotors who think that putting a drone up and showing our rocky crags or displaying dozens of crayfish ready to be cooked, is what we are all about. I think we are about resilience, about toughness and about respect for the way things work best.
When I was a little girl, I had my fair share of lessons. I would go with my father when he was contracting to take the mail, by boat, from Flinders Island to Cape Barren Island.
I would often play around at Badger Corner because sometimes dad would leave me to stay with the Riddles but other times, we would go together on the boat. One such time, when I was about 10, we got into the jetty at Cape Barren quite late and the tide was going out fast, leaving very little depth of water at the jetty. It helped that there was a gusting westerly which threw up waves, enabling the boat to ride up high next to the top of the jetty. Dad told me to get up onto the roof of the wheel house and to jump over onto the jetty as soon as a wave came along that was high enough, while he held the boat steady with the motor. I had the rope and, watching the waves, made a couple of unsuccessful attempts. Finally I jumped but still had one leg balanced on the wheelhouse roof and not on the jetty. I can imagine my dad’s horror as he thought I would slip down between the boat and be crushed at the side of the jetty but somehow, his yelling to throw myself onto the jetty worked - and I was able then, to tie off the boat.
I was at a funeral the other day which I share because of the way death is celebrated. The service was full of emotion, the hall was packed and there was lots of music and pictures as well as stories. It was held at Lady Barron and the relatives and friends who wanted to, followed the hearse with the coffin of the ninety-five year old man, on foot, up to the cemetery. Each funeral I have been to on Cape Barren is done in the same way. Raising our eyes after the service, from Lady Barron we see the blue hills of Cape Barren. Walking back down the hill from the Cape Barren cemetery, we see the equally blue “Peaks of Flinders".
We love our high crags and our produce. Lots of us grow a garden of fruit and vegetables. We know we have wineglass shaped bays with crescents of white sand which define crystal clear waters in aquas, azures. We breathe clean air whilst throwing our heads back, basking in the sun and losing ourselves in the cerulean blues of our skies.
We love our clouds, blue and purple, scudding fast with a small squall, or those that fade away the closer they get or just floating by in big white fluffiness We know, if we can, to try to keep out of the blasts from the roaring forties or the hot breath of a northerly and that punishing easterly or the bitterest of cold, the southerly that cuts through like a knife. But when we can’t, we know how to endure them.
We are a resilient group of people who are very careful about resources. We go to the tip and come back with as much as we took there - someone’s tip load is some other ones treasure! All of us hope that the regulations won’t change. We need access to re-using these items others can’t see in the same way.
We are abstemious with our use of items and possessions in our lives - we use what we have - and have what we use. We don’t have public transport so often have at least two reasons to travel in the car - work and groceries and the library or visiting a sick friend, lunch with a group and a professional appointment or carpooling to choir.
We know that the weather and the tides are greater than our needs. We await the arrival of supplies on the barge each week and when it is delayed, we change our plans to suit the new arrival time. Flights are delayed, often meaning appointments need to be rescheduled - so an extra day is often built in to plans, just in case.
We accept that schooling more often than not means going to boarding school or being billeted with other families and the result is that there is a greater percentage than average of students who excel in their field of interest. We don’t often realise that the homesickness we go through sets up resilience and inner confidence in our abilities.
We are polite, rarely saying out loud what we really think about something that has a negative effect on the community or ourselves unless prompted to - and every driver waves as we pass each other on the road. It was the theme of our first little film festival and so many little films were made, detailing the Flinders Island wave.
A funky, smile-making film was commercially made, showing “the wave”, emphasising this little Flinders Island trait, paid for by the Flinders Council to attract young couples to Flinders Island for a holiday - who perhaps might then see if they could live and work here. It didn’t do that, with only two female waves, one a child the other a 60 year old.
The video could have shown the many vibrant women who have successful businesses on the Island in agriculture, retail, hospitality and services such as teaching and nursing where other women could see themselves doing the same - so they would make the decision to have a holiday and perhaps stay.
There are many reasons to come and stay on Flinders Island - have a look at the rest of my website as well!