January 7, 2021… a delayed post!
For a person who’s a card carrying member of the Scaredy Cat Flying Club, I’m never in a hurry to get on a plane and leave terra firma, so the decision to head off for a trip to Flinders Island was taken with some trepidation…yep we’d get to see another part of Tassie that we’d never been to before, but…to get there we had to fly on a very, very small plane. So…toughen up Heidi and make it happen!
The nerves were not abated when we checked in at the small terminal, to be told by the airline man, “You won’t be sitting together, we like to sit the men at the front, so less weight is in the back, to help with take off.”
Oh fabulous. Well, that’s just dandy. This little buzz box of an aircraft is so tetchy with weight, that we could end up ditched in Bass Strait just because someone couldn’t resist that extra donut before they got on. Brilliant. The needle on my scaredy-cat o’meter just started flicking into the red zone. Still, board we must and I just hoped that everyone had opted for nothing more than half a Weet-Bix before getting on. We took our seats. I was in the middle on a little single seat and Steve was up front with all the rest of Team Body Mass. I immediately began scanning my fellow passengers and doing a mental calculation of the weight distribution with every soul on board. Hang on a minute, that fella looks lighter than that lady, but they’re putting him at the front and her at the back. What does that mean!? It totally did my head in!
We taxied down the runway, the little propellors whizzed, the rubber bands did their job and that little plane took flight with all the ease of the flighted, feathered folk that inspired it. The two young fellas in the cockpit did a champion job of piloting us over the water and in a 30 minute blink, we landed gently and safely on Flinders Island. The heart rate returned to normal, the breathing calmed and I was back where I belonged, on solid ground. Off we go…commence exploration!
First task was to hire a car and it was in this exercise that we got our first indication of island lifestyle. Was the airport filled with row upon row of shiny, latest model vehicles, giving us a choice of make and model? No, no it wasn’t. We were handed the keys to our vehicle of no choice and loaded ourselves into our “retro” Toyota Camry circa turn of the century. Yep, we were in a place that wasn’t fussed about looks or modernity. How refreshing.
We tootled 5 minutes up the road to get a cuppa and make a plan. I sat outside the one cafe in town, while Steve went in to order our brews and I took in our surroundings. It was kind of like stepping back into a 1970’s time warp and I mean that in a good way. I had been on this island for all of 15 minutes and already I was totally loving the place. It was quiet, calm, no one in a hurry, in fact no one much at all. As I sat there, I noticed a handbag and smart phone sitting on the table in front of me, with no one about. I looked around. No one, except for a couple of people chatting down the street and someone heading into work at the little supermarket, apron on and in an island uniform of shorts and thongs. I looked at the bag and phone, just sitting there. It was a good five minutes before a lady came back, sat down and finished her cuppa, checking her phone as she sipped. That’s the kind of place this was. So beautifully sleepy, that someone could just leave their bits and pieces sitting at an outside table, go off and do something and return with no qualms at all. Love it. We sat there, sipping our cuppas and I began to feel every fibre in the body just relaaaaaax. It was very quiet, very sleepy with the only activity being people stopping to chat in the street. It was delightful. Like an island village. Tasmania has a slow, laid back pace at the best of times, but this was next level. Laid back 2.0. Fabulous!
It was a superb day, with the sun shining and blue sky dazzling, so we set off for a walk to see some of the island’s environment. A walk to Trousers Point seemed like a good place to start. As we drove around and out to the start of the walk we discovered there were about two sealed roads on the whole of Flinders Island. One went top to bottom and one went across and the other roads were unsealed. It was another indication of what a marvellously untouched sort of place this was.
We parked at the start of the walk, looking for any sort of shade to park our retro wheels, because it was feeling like a hot one already. As we set off towards Trousers Point, the views were top-notch right from the get go. We walked under trees, along grassy tracks and over granite boulders with the sparkling water to one side and looming hills on the other.
The water gave blue a whole new palette, the air was that fabulous Tasmanian “triple C” of clean, clear and crisp and we plodded along enjoying the cool of the air off the water. We found a suitable boulder for elevenses and parked ourselves for a snack, looking out to sea. Magic.
On we went and as we walked over rocks and through coastal grass fronds, Steve suddenly stopped with a surprised, “Whoa!” I came to a quick halt, wondering what had brought our peaceful ramble to such a sudden and abrupt pause. Then I saw what had brought the Big Fella up short. There, in the grass in front of us, was a little snake that Steve had narrowly avoided stepping on. The snake must have sensed us because it very quickly went into statue mode. It froze. I walked closer to try and take some video, treating it carefully but knowing it wouldn’t bother me if I was respectful and didn’t bother it. I stood and waited for it to move. I waited…and waited. Now, anyone who has read previous blog posts from our travels, may know that I have the patience of a veritable stadium of saints when it comes to waiting for my shot. (I’m thinking of you Dublin bees!). That little snake though, it would not oblige. It was well and truly into snake statue strategy. The “I’m not here, you can’t see me” routine was obviously well practised and was being put to use here. Despite me standing there as minute after minute ticked by and walking around it, little Stan was not for moving. In the end I apologised for interrupting its day of slithering in the sunshine and we continued on our way.
The colours were amazing, with the blue sky, blue water and red granite and it made for a super walk to start our exploration of Flinders. As we headed back, we passed a stand of trees and I saw a movement. “Echidna!” I announced with a loud whisper and set off tip toeing into the scrub to spot the cute little bundle of quills. Once again though, despite taking on a human statue strategy myself and waiting…waiting…waiting, I had again met my match. That echidna just bundled itself under some branches and clearly knew I was there because it wasn’t having a bar of any photo opportunities. Score: wildlife 2 / Heidi 0. I again apologised for the disturbance and left Quillamena to waddle into the afternoon without random ramblers getting in her way.
We headed back to our retro wheels and choofed off in search of our accommodation. This too turned out to be very retro. A simple, rectangular brick box of a house, looking out at the wetlands of Lady Barron. Nothing flash. Nothing modern. Completely devoid of bells and whistles. If you like the simple life, Flinders was delivering in spades.
The day had been one of getting our bearings, getting a feel for the place and taking in some of the natural splendour of one of Tassie’s islands. It was great. Definitely the vibe we like. Unhurried. Untarnished. Half a dozen people in the street considered a crowd. Slow. Easy. Sleepy. Just what we wanted. I’m loving getting to know our own island state some more. Despite living in Tasmania for fifty years, I feel like we’re just getting to know each other in so many ways. Tomorrow we will continue to explore and see what other Flinders finds we can discover. One thing I know for sure though…yawn…we’ll be going at island pace…just a clip above a plod, an amiable amble, a laid back lope. Perfect.
If you’d like to see a short video of our first day on Flinders Island, you can check that out here.