Australia, n. A country lying in the South Sea whose industrial & commercial development has been unspeakably retarded by an unfortunate dispute among geographers as to whether it is a continent or an island. ~ Ambrose Bierce.... We just live on one of the 365 you can choose from in Moreton Bay ~ One for each day of the year. Mainland Australia is just 14 ks away in the giggly~gurgly round~about route necessary to negotiate the mudbanks & islands ~ or 20 minutes by boat ~ & dugong, dolphins & turtles are regular sights along the trip. The skippers will even slow the boats so we can have a good look & the new boats are jet propelled so there's no propeller to cut up unfortunate sea animals we bump into. Very different to the way things were when we first moved here more than 20 years ago.
Twenty odd years ago we had 3 small boys & were living in suburban Toowoomba, which was a large country town & home to the University of Southern Queensland ~ which is why we were there; I took my degree there. Even the big 1/4 acre Queensland blocks were obviously never going to be big enough for 3 rumbustious boys but we had been looking for an alternative for years before we decided on the islands. We wanted space ~ but somewhere accessible to unis. As it turned out we didn't have the sort of kids who needed uni but the islands gave us the sort of lifestyle we wanted: space, bush, water, community. True, travelling has always been a pain in the butt. No doubt about it. We used to shop on the mainland. Juggling 4 kids, a twin stroller & a baby in a sling with the mountain of groceries necessary to feed 6 people & a couple of cats for a fortnight was no joy. The last boat of the day left the mainland at 6pm & there wasn't another till 5 am the next morning.
On the other hand the school had a whole 30 kids. Everyone knew everyone ~ & looked out for each other. Our kids walked to school, trained for long distance runs & fished, crabbed & camped in a way I would never have been comfortable oking on the mainland. How things have changed! Now there is a police station, a swimming pool & an IGA supermarket. The primary school has close to 200 kids & all 7 grades are full to capacity. The population has tripled to somewhere between 3 & 4 thousand residents. We no longer know everyone by sight. Our house was one of 4 on our 50 acre peninsula & our kids had the freedom of the bush acres & the shelter of the bay. Ditz is far more restricted as houses mushroom up around us & the bush disappears.
Dearest is both a bricklayer & horticulturalist by trade. He travelled in his own tinny to & from the mainland until he broke his back. Now he's trying to turn his hobby into a home business. The net makes this a feasible possibility.
Some things never change. The mainland is just there. My older kids travelled regularly to play sport. Ditz travels all the time for music. The cost adds up but none of us like Brizzie. You step on that boat & it becomes a different world. The pace slows. The air is cleaner. People relax & chat. In summer you can sit outside with the salt breeze & the modern world disappears over the horizon.
Islanders, the ones who last, are a different breed. We have our share of ratbags, rebels, outlaws & criminals. There are the recluse & the certifiably mad. Like many small isolated communities world wide alcohol is the biggest social problem. Drinking is what people do. We aren't drinkers but we know how to appreciate our own company & like all long term islanders we can manage things for ourselves that most people take for granted. For years our first aid kit consisted of elastoplast. It covers most contingencies. Salt makes a good antiseptic cleaner. Mail delivery, town water & garbage collection are fairly new. Our older kids grew up without them. Ditz would die. She likes her modern conveniences & toilets that flush.
For all I've loved living here Dearest & I are talking about moving once Ditz is out on her own. Most of the things we loved about the island, the things that made putting up with the inconveniences worthwhile, are slowly disappearing & the islands are being swallowed up in the great Brisbane urban sprawl. We are talking somewhere further away, more isolated, smaller, enough land to put in a decent orchard, run a large cat or two...I reckon I've got a few years left to talk Dearest into seeing big cats my way!