The island is a wonderful place, but getting settled here is... different. I said I was going to write a few posts on what I wish I known before we migrated here. Much of it is stuff locals know, and assume you do. In three years we have barely started to learn but I gather this blog is the starting point for so many people who have come here... so as a background...
Flinders Island is in a way, its own little world. Yes, it's part of Australia, and its people have served, and died for Australia. But it is a small, rural, extremely isolated community. And it really is a community. Everyone knows everyone, or at least of them. When there is trouble they pull together like superglue. When there isn't... hmm. You might think they didn't. But when it comes down a choice between an islander and outsider, no matter how nice the outsider, the islander gets their support. Some people say you have be born here (and that qualifies) or live here for 30 or 50 years to be one. That depends on who you talk to. If you get deeply stuck into the community activities and do not try to take over, but come and help with the heavy lifting, you'll find yourself accepted probably more easily than in any large place. They need you. They don't need a South African or Melbourne or Hobart or Ulan Bator's way of doing things, and honestly, if you're coming to island to escape that and because of this place and its people... bringing it along strikes me as taking what you're trying to leave behind with you. The islanders need more people for the island way, and actually want their own culture and ways respected. Oddly enough - it would seem the best way of getting them to want to try your foreign ways is not to offer them, as we now find ourselves asked to cook 'real South African food' often. It's quite funny because I never did much of the traditional cookery back in SA.
Your first stop on the Island, if you're even thinking about a holiday home, let alone living here, has to be to get the Island News. As a backstop, and because it is available online, you might want to try Island Views (firstname.lastname@example.org ) as well. That's a private newsletter-advertorial for the Broken Arrow Lowline stud, but it has quite a lot of local politics, and a lot of local history. The Island News, however has several really important parts to it. The first is the Council News, which could make the island a fortune if they bottled it and sold it as a soporific. Unfortunately it's got important stuff about water, property and dogs hidden it. The second is the police report, which if you have a left crime-ridden spot will make you smile. The third is of course the real reason we can't do without it:In the Island News you will find all the relevant times things are open and what is happening, from the Church services to the tip, from the supermarkets and servos, to the museum. And the garage sales, and adverts for all those things (like plumbers) you can't track down elsewhere. And so I don't do the usual Flinders assume-you-know - PO Box 1 Whitemark Flinders Island Tas 7255 email@example.com to order your copy. It's 80 cents well spent. I'd subscribe, or go into Bowman's (thereby increasing the traffic in another important Island place) and collect your copy.
But one of the most important things you can do with the Island News is show up every second Thursday and help collate it (it is put together by hand, by volunteers) - if for no other reason than an aching back and sore hips should remind you what hard work a community newspaper is. Besides that, it's a good way of meeting some of the people who put a lot of under-appreciated work into it, and it's usually good for a fair bit of chatter and a few laughs too.