Ride the Wave

Share :: One thing you will notice when driving around Flinders Island, is a gentle gesture made with a finger. It has been dubbed the ‘Island Wave’  by an unknown author who wrote about the ‘strange to start with’ signal in an article published in the Island News{1} on the 17th December 2010.

Don’t panic! The friendly islanders are simply offering a finger wave to acknowledge you and other road users passing in the opposite direction (or even in the same direction) as we go about our island life.

Coming from a big city where I was more likely to experience an angry blast from a car horn (actually, I have received the finger in this kind of environment before & even been guilty of giving a few too) stating I have irritated a fellow road user, the Island Wave is warm and welcoming in comparison.

Part of the article published in 2010 describes the various types of Island Wave’s - here’s an unedited excerpt ::

… “You are driving along, one hand on the wheel and you see an oncoming vehicle. The other hand goes on the wheel, so you can get ready to wave.

• The busy truck driver lifts one finger. That’s good enough.

• You like the person approaching, your right hand leaves the wheel and you wave horizontally with enthusiasm.

• You haven’t seen the person for a while; the index finger is extended to point meaning its good to see you.

• The truck driver in the older truck with the big steering wheel already has his arms outstretched, so the whole palm is raised in a flat sort of motion.

• Two fisherman passing, both hands come off the wheel and the knee holds it in place whilst your two hands show the size of the salmon going up the river.

• You had a big night at the pub with someone the night before, that’s a big thumb’s up occasion.

• You don’t like someone, so all that is raised is the last joint of the index finger, hoping they really didn’t see it.

• The “see you at the pub gesture”, that is the raised right had in the drinking motion.

• Then there is the rapid signaling to one side, meaning “STOP, I NEED TO TALK TO YOU!!”

• And what about when you pass, a sideways wave and then a wave in the mirror to make sure they saw it.

• How about when both front seat occupants wave, which is really confusing isn’t it, after all isn’t it the prerogative of the driver to control the selection of wave style for the oncoming vehicle? …”

I’m not entirely sure just how accurate these descriptions are, but they sure are a little bit funny. Don’t be too surprised by the Island Wave when visiting our piece of paradise. Embrace it & enjoy the old-school gesture, we do!

X Sammi & Megan

{1} The Island News is a newspaper serving the Furneaux community. It has been produced fortnightly by volunteers for over 58 years. With articles ranging from letters to the editor, to classified advertisements and events. To subscribe you can contact: islandnews@hotmail.com (approximately 80c per copy plus postage).

note: if you know the author of the article – please leave a comment below & let us know!



  1. Lois June 17, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    think Steve Cole wrote it while he was editor of Island News

    • islandlife June 17, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

      Hi Lois
      Can imagine this would be a Steve Cole story!
      Thanks :)

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