Flinders Island is my home. Remote and out of the way, I could live here for ever and then another day. The mountains in the sea have long held a romantic hold over me and since my return, it would sure be hard to leave.
Many happy memories as a child on school holidays made this place appealing in so many ways. The simple task of hanging washing on my suburban line would make think of Flinders Island. I imagined the days when I helped my Nana do the same.
Two treated pine posts, deep in the ground, strung a line of cord across and when she was ready Nana hoisted the washing into the air. A tea-tree branch, forked at the top, caught the line and pushed it up high and there the branch stayed until everything was dry.
Tending to my own garden, listening to the bees also took me back to Flinders Island swiftly. ‘Turn the tap off please’ Grandpa would say ‘Careful, don’t squirt me!’ The abundant vegetable patch was a place on the farm that gave him great joy, even if he did sound somewhat…interrupted.
Digging up potatoes for tea, you never knew how big they were going to be. Shoveling the soil was a game Grandpa liked to play; purposely digging where he knew there were none and when we came across some it was all the more fun.
Collecting eggs was similarly good. In the afternoon chooks were let free. They scratched at the ground and ventured the land – clucking happily. A handful of grains would rein them back in and cause squabbles between my younger brother and I “You got to do it last night!”
Of a day we would trip into town. Starting with the bakery. ‘Thin sliced Vienna loaf please.’ Nana would ask ritually. Behind the counter was Mrs. Campbell who would say, ‘Welcome back Megan and Christopher! How long is your stay?’ and we would exclaim ‘Just for the school holidays!’
A box of groceries was packed for us next from Walkers Supermarket, which is still the same! The old-fashioned values and family service remain, even though they now have an electric door and the layout has evolved to fit in an extraordinary range.
Mr. Clifford at the post office always called Nana, Mrs. Corbould when she requested her mail and at EM Bowman & Co. General Store we would collect The Age newspaper, especially set aside for Grandpa. Choosing a postcard to send home to our parents was a given and selecting a sweet was a special treat.
Heading back to the farm I sat beside the groceries and bread. The smell in the car of our parcels from town sticks in my mind to this day. Adding to my love affair of Flinders Island. It’s funny what you remember!
After lunch we would travel to the beach, bouncing somewhat along a gravel road. Nana’s beach bag had the essentials. Aero-guard, Sting-goes, sunscreen and hats, towels, goggles and more would all be packed. A bite from a jack-jumper at the beach is nasty and March flies hurt too but standing on a fallen nut from a she-oak tree at Trousers Point was also horrible. ‘Where are your thongs?!’
Arriving there was magical. The long white beach with crystal blue water features a Mt Strzelecki backdrop that is to die for. Walking around the rocks we would play in a secluded beach and Nana would do cartwheels, literally! Snorkeling, watching kelp and the little fish sway to and fro was very special – peaceful.
Back on the farm, later in the day we would ride on the back of the Ute slowly feeding out hay. Calls and cries of our farm animal friends and the occasional lick from an over eager cow was a far cry from the city and from my friends but it was the best opportunity for me.
Watching the sunset over the surrounding mountains, towering and tall, the sight of light changing grounds me to this day. It is a proud view and the granite peaks make me feel small, yet I am protected and I feel very comfortable.
A last beautiful thought was at the end of the day, tucked up tight in a Nana-made-bed the wind sometimes rattled the window above my head. Reading a book I had picked from the Whitemark library that day was a perfect ending to a perfect island day.
I am grateful nothing much has changed! It may be out of the way, but my life on Flinders Island is still like a holiday!
X Sammi & Megan
In Loving memory of Lola Olive Corbould.