The internet connection on Flinders Island is slow. It must be so frustrating for the residents, and an indication of some issues faced in the more remote parts of Australia. Not that the Island is that remote — an hour’s plane flight from Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, and even closer to Launceston, Tasmania’s second city. Australia should have a far better internet connection; but I will not start up on the NBN. So the connection is poor. I mention it not only to lambast the Government, to also explain that uploading photos can be frustratingly slow and this post will be without them.
While the weather has been full of wind and rain, the Islanders have been warm and welcoming. Nothing seems to be too much trouble.
Helen, who is the resort manager at Mountain Seas, met us at the airport and, on the drive south, filled us in on Island life. “Wave to everyone, say G’day, and they’ll wave back.” And it’s true, they do! Of course, in the car, it is the country wave, where the driver only raises his/her index finger from the steering wheel as the cars speed past.
The locals will usually say “G’day” back. Some even stop for a chat. Like the farmer we met in town. We talked about the usual things — how welcome the rain was and how he had come to the Island for a 3 year contract 30 years ago. He was in town to pick up his wife. She was a volunteer at the CWA shop which sells hand knitted woollen goodies. The shop has a sign in the window saying that if it is not open, ask at the supermarket and they will get you the key.
When I asked Helen if she knew of any information to help me identify plants she told me about a number of people who had that knowledge. Later she appeared with an armful of books that she had found on the bookshelf. Instead of saying to me ‘Look on the bookshelf”, she went the extra bit and found them for me. Nothing seems to contain her energy and enthusiasm, not even her broken arm!
She told us that no one on the Island locks doors, and will often keep the car keys in the ignition. Her theory is that if a thief comes across a locked door that’s the one they try to open because there must be something valuable inside!
We put that to the test in Whitemark, parking outside the supermarket and leaving the keys in the car. Later I went off to the bakery around the corner. Imagine my horror to come back and find the car not there. Helen’s faith was missed placed! I waited outside the pub for about 10 minutes, and finally saw the car, driven by my Fella come around the corner. He had gone looking for me and had ended up at the hospital to ask if they had seen me. He didn’t think that I had been injured, but thought that the hospital was the library!!
While there is a threat that the community will loose the Westpac bank — not economic enough — the hospital seems to be in good shape. According to someone I spoke to, there are three doctors and Government money has been put into it recently. Nice to know that my taxes are doing some good.
I had another ‘It’s a small island’ moment the other day. I had planned do some art with a couple of classes at the school. I was in the bakery having lunch and mentioned that that’s where I was heading. The lass behind the counter said “Oh, don’t you know that there was a burst water main at the school and the children have all been sent home?” I found out through the bakery! I loved that! Although I hasten to add that my contact person about the classes had been trying to ring me. I had given her the wrong number…
On Saturdays the bakery and the cafe alternate being open. Today it was the cafe’s turn. As we were waiting for our coffee we were amazed by the stream of children and fathers who came in. The cafe owners were run off their feet. It turns out it was the end of Saturday morning footy, and all the participants were coming in with Dad to stock up on Saturday treats.
So a little bit of Island life, filtered through my eyes.