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.
11 replies on “A little slice of Flinders Island”
Sounds like a great community. And I laughed and exclaimed through the missing car story. You tell it all so well.
I am enjoying the community. There is an artistic community too, and I am meeting some of these artists. It is always lovely to share with those who have your enthusiasms. Glad you liked the car story. I have to admit that I was a little worried because, and don’t tell anyone this, my Fella has a rather wonky sense of direction. He could have been anywhere, so I was lucky it was only the hospital!!
Sounds a bit like life in the small mountain town I used to live in, down in northern NSW. I don’t believe I locked the house for about 3 years, never locked the car when I went shopping, and was frequently asked to drop in at friends’ houses to help myself to something I wanted to borrow rather than wait for them to come home. It’s nice to know almost every face you meet, although of course, there’s a downside to all that, which is that everyone knows everyone else’s business!
Trust is a very satisfying feeling. I think there are many positives to small towns/communities. You are right Kate to also point out the disadvantage. I have realised that you only say good things about people (not that I want to say horrible things, or gossip) because you never know who is related to whom.
In a country town, you have a much bigger support network than you would in a city, for example. You can rely on your neighbours, and people who don’t step up to help are not well thought of. But you’re right – there are lots of people with the same name!
People always seem to know who to approach for what. Need the drier fixed? Contact Joe who lives along that road And round the bend. Best place for car hire? Go and see Betty, her cars are older but in good nick and cheaper. Want to find a potter? Well, you housed see Kylie’s work, but she is away at the moment. I like the respect and care for others that it shows.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I can tell you’re having a great time. So nice to hear you’re getting a real flavour for local life.
I love listening to people’s stories, so I am fascinated by what life is like here. It is such a different experience to my city life. And I have always wanted to live on an island. There’s something about being bounded by water. Maybe there is a little bush block overlooking the mountains and the sea in my future. Wouldn’t that be grand?
That would be grand!
What a beautiful picture, in words, you’ve made about Flinders Island 🙂
That is a high compliment, coming from a wordsmith like your self. Thank you.
LikeLiked by 1 person