A Week of Waves: Auroras, Clouds and Greetings on Flinders Island

When entering a new community, there is always the worry about reading the social expectations, and responding with the correct etiquette. On Flinders Island, the most pervasive and remarkable mannerism is the wave offered between the drivers of cars. Island Life Style has posted a highly amusing account of this published in the local Island News some years ago, but in short, there is a simple expectation that the drivers of vehicles will raise a finger or a whole hand in greeting when passing each other on the road. The result is both a remarkably welcoming and inclusive sentiment for those who are new to the island, and this terrible horror of implied rejection when a wave is not exchanged.

Some years ago I came to the island for the Flinders Five Running Festival, and so being used to this special phenomenon, merrily wave to all those in view each time I’m in the car. My partner Nick, not having been to the island since he was a child, is less familiar with the wave habit, and so commits the social faux pas of IGNORING A WAVE whenever he sits behind the wheel, until – aghast and embarrassed – I attempt to correct his behaviour.

Indeed, perhaps it was no coincidence that the Scottish Country Dancing evening that we attempted to attend on Tuesday evening was abandoned…

The other waves of the island over the last week included the glorious waves of coloured light in the sky, the aurora australis. We had just enjoyed a delicious roast feast put on by botanical artist Jessie (and where I was remembered by one of the locals from the years when I visited the island as the person mad enough to enjoy swimming in the ocean in early September!), and had headed to bed, when I saw an aurora alert online. We dashed outside again, and sure enough, the southern horizon was aglow. The camera was able to capture the colour better than the naked eye, although the descending clouds meant that we only had time for a few shots.

Low cloud was also the undoing of our walk up Strzelecki, the highest mountain on the island. The summit seems to have a near permanent cap of cloud, even when the rest of the island is bathed in sunlight, but we optimistically thought that perhaps it would burn off by the time we reached the peak. The answer was a resounding negative, although we sat in the wind for some time staring into the white abyss waiting for it to clear.

Many of the sunrise and sunset timelapses that Nick has been attempting to capture are clouded in, but the days have been kind, even if perpetually windy. Our trek out along Killiecrankie Bay was in fine conditions, although we soon discovered that finding one of the famous Killiecrankie Diamonds (actually a topaz) was more difficult than simply strolling along the beach and picking one up. Conversely, it was very easy to walk into the lovely little Whitemark library and pick up a beautifully illustrated book about the diamonds. And, of course, by driving into town we were awash with friendly waves.

Sunrise from Mountain Seas

All photos and time lapses by the talented Nick.

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One thought on “A Week of Waves: Auroras, Clouds and Greetings on Flinders Island

  1. Pingback: A Poet of the Island: Elvie Bowman | Past Books

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