It’s my last full day on the island.
Before I left I noticed an essay competition announcement on the theme of ‘people’s connection to place’. Right up my alley. The judge is a writer whose work I follow and whom I’ve heard speak on the subject and I’m keen to enter. Although I haven’t deliberately thought too much about the essay, pieces are falling place all by themselves. I’ve decided to use Flinders Island as the central subject and discuss the divergent connections that have brought people here in its very short but eventful human history.
When I first considered Flinders Island for a resi, my first thought was joy that I could visit Wybalenna and pay respects to its tragic Aboriginal past. Since I’ve been here though, I find myself putting it off. I feel a bit like a driver passing a gruesome accident; I really don’t want to look. It feels increasingly uncomfortable and somehow disrespectful, or is it worse not to visit? I’m torn. If I’m going though, it has to be today.
It’s my last chance to hit the museum. I’d noticed some intriguing folders in the research room relating to Wybalenna and George Robinson: ‘Protector of Aboriginies’ and thought I’d mine them for personal notes and diary comments that I wouldn’t find in published books.
On the way, I stop at Freckles for a take away coffee and Bowman’s for a notebook ( Joe hug ). It’s quiet so there’s a chance for a quick chat with Kate who works behind the counter. She tells me how she cares for orphaned wombats and shows me photos on her phone. There is nothing cuter in this world than a baby wombat. My heart melts. At the moment she is caring for 14 and they all need feeding every four hours. She usually has them with her in the shop. She offers a visit but sadly there’s no time now. What a dedicated human being. Yet another one!
I make a mental note to go hunting this evening and meet a few wombats, it will only take 5 minutes, you can’t go anywhere without tripping over them. I take some final notes and photos of the wall and say my goodbyes to Joe. If I could get away with it I’d take him with me. It’s not a pretty sight. He looks at me like he knows. We’ll always have Whitemark Joe.