Monday 9 February 2015

Fabulous Flinders

After our ritzy, glitzy night in the City. we changed gear completely and headed for Flinders Island for 4 nights over the Australia Day long weekend,

The stock question after saying we were going to Flinders Island was; "Wheres that?". Located in the Bass Strait sandwiched between Australia and mainland Tasmania, the island is a peaceful and unspoiled haven where the 900 inhabitants are hugely outnumbered by the 250,000 wallabies.

The flight was just 50 minutes from Melbourne in a little 12 seater plane, I must admit, I reckon I have sat in wider canoes!

There was a boys weekend shooting party on board, the island has a vast population of cape geese and ducks and so licensed parties are allowed to come and shoot. With all the talk of the amount of grog they were going to consume, I kind of hoped the birds would have half decent odds!

On arrival we picked up our battered old hire car and made our way to Whitemark.  Whitemark is the the main town for supplies on the island. Well I say town, it was one tiny street with a bakers, a cafe, a butchers/fishmongers, a tiny supermarket crammed to the rafters, a petrol station/garage, a post office and of course the obligatory tavern, which also served as the local grog shop.

The skeleton above the bar is that of a Pilot Whale washed up on the shores here.
Selling everything, including the kitchen sink!
 On the car park near the green was a guy selling fresh seafood from a refrigerated trailer towed to his car. We plundered some huge prawns and some juicy oysters. We then headed to the little supermarket and stocked up for the 4 days. Our accommodation at Palana beach was some 50km away with no other amenities other than here, so we had to be self sufficient.

Everyone was so friendly and one lady told us it was the island festival that weekend to coincide with the Australia Day celebrations so we were sure to come on down and join in the fun.

We were keen to get going and settle ourselves into our accommodation, Palana Beach House. We were not disappointed, it was absolutely immaculate, modern, comfortable and views to die for and so, so peaceful. All throughout the house, the only sound you could hear were the waves rolling in from the waters below and it was so soothing.

Once unpacked, a chilled glass of Chardonnay was called for, with our feet up on the deck, we were soon lost in the view before us. Oh yes, we were gong to be just fine here, it was just what the doctor ordered.

As dusk began to fall our little friends, the wallabies, began to arrive in good number. They were not too bothered by us and munched purposefully at the tufts of grass all around the property.

Each morning we had a wake up call from the many Kookaburras in the gum trees around us, heralding the new day with raucous cackles. They sound more like a troop of baboons, incredible how such little creatures can make such an impressive racket.

As planned that Saturday, we drove back to Whitemark to see the festival "island" style. We knew it would be quirky and somewhat hill billy and it was. Perfect, we just adore this simple way of life, where making music and making merry with your community is what its all about.

On the drive into Whitemark, we were so thrilled to see wild wombats munching away at the green grass on the verges. They were so cute and healthy looking, it was such a treat to see them in their natural habitat, we have only ever seen them in a sanctuary before.

The island is a very friendly place. Everyone greets one another on the street and also on the road without exception. I loved that. The steering wheel hand wave soon became second nature.

We had such a good time at the festival and we really enjoyed the little band, clobbered together with all sorts of instruments, some handmade and all kinds of folk, young, old and all different backgrounds. Their sense of fun and happiness was infectious.

This elderly gent was delightful, he had a long stick with taut string attached to a wooden box with a large hole in it and he twanged the string like it was a double bass, he made some great sounds and was thoroughly enjoying himself.

After a delicious fresh fish taco and a glass of the local island Pinot Noir, we retreated back to the beach house. As we drove out of Whitemark, all the members of the band waved to us. It brought a lump to my throat, thank goodness, lovely simple folk like this still exist in the world.

Each evening Hubster prepared and cooked a delicious meal, we really did eat extremely well.

Of course all that needed to be tempered with a little fresh air and exercise and the island certainly didn't disappoint. It was stunningly beautiful, like nothing had changed for 1000's of years and most likely hadn't. It felt like we had the place to ourselves, we just never saw another soul.

We adore the isolation and solitude, we so cherish this precious time for us in a world that is so hectic and frantic, finding pockets of our planet like this are priceless beyond measure.

The four days were just not enough. There were mountains to climb and we never knew there were mountains too!

We both declared that we could have happily lived there for a time at least and we really could have. We are both little hermits at heart and the ability to shun the crowds and masses and be connected to nature really feeds our souls. We need it and we pursue it.

Of all of our Australian memories, of which there are a mind blowing amount, Flinders will be up there in all its unique, simple, unspoiled, and natural beauty.

A happy island wave to you all!