YOUNG, OLD & ANCIENT: The future of tourism on Flinders Island
PART 2 – What the young folk think
Story by Matt Sykes. Photos by Sean Whitehill.
While older generations have wisdom and experience, the young have new ideas and plenty of time to realise them. What they lack in skill they make up in attitude. These two entrepreneurs paint this picture very well.
Guide Joel Kovacs contemplating the future, with a view of Trousers Point.
Pull in the whole experience of the island. Make it a high-end destination.
Over the phone Jo Youl comes across as a focused and determined young woman with one goal – realising Flinders Island’s tourism potential. What’s interesting is that this vision is shared by a whole generation of young people on the Island – council employees, teachers, nurses and farmers. These young Islanders seem to follow an age-old tradition of entrepreneurship, started by those who were bold enough to first walk the land bridge connecting mainland Australia to Tasmania.
Everyone does a few things, things on the side.
Jo is a case in point. Her and her fella Tom have proposed a visionary wellness retreat centred with a majestic view of Killiekrankie Bay (pictured below). Quoin, a named based on the historic title of their farm, will be the well-rounded experience that Jo dreams of – wellness, adventure, food and community. Unfortunately it is currently stuck in Tribunal but that’s only likely to add more fire to the bellies of this pair. The twenty-five letters of support they received after publicly announcing their proposal shows that the community will is there. Council said that this kind of response is unprecedented. It might just take some tweaking to get the balance right.
View down to Killiekrankie’s waterfront, the proposed location of Quoin.
Jo is also a partner in Flinders Island Fresh a business that connects tourists with the Islands’ best produce. Boutique hampers are offered through online retail while a traditional retail space is about to open.
The food is blowing my mind! We can provide everything here. It just needs some nurturing. Producers just need a bit more confidence.
Luxury Breakfast Basket available from Flinders Island Fresh’s online store, go to http://www.flindersislandfresh.com.au/
Food miles are at the front of conscious consumers’ minds, but on an island where everything is shipped in, self-sufficiency is essential. For the educated couples with high disposable income that Jo is targeting, marketing their products’ provenance will be easy. She knows this. She also knows that these time poor couples are looking for a balanced holiday, part adventure and part relaxation, all within an hour’s flight from Melbourne. Did I mention Jo has a background in marketing? At Quoin guests will enjoy mind-blowing food, as well as earthy spa treatments and the opportunity to go into the wild for the day.
Originally from a farm near Sunbury in Melbourne’s northwest, she and Tom (who grew up on a farm in the Tassie midlands) have been living full time on the Island for four years. The farm where they live, another business, has been in the family since the 1930s, so they’re not without roots. As we end our conversation, Jo resumes packing her bags ready for a flight. No doubt she needs a regular “Melbourne-fix”, an injection of caffeine, fashion, food and culture to balance the isolation of living of a small island. She’ll be back, with new inspiration and energy.
We can learn from others mistakes. There are other operators who have compromised their values because of rapid development.
Holger Strie is one of the two owners of Trek Tours Australia. This year he and his business partner Richard Mayne are getting Trek Tasmania off the ground. On mainland Australia, Trek Larapinta is our lead product. In Tasmania, we think that Flinders Island has the level and diversity of walking to match. With thought-leading standing camps in development for each destination, the stage looks set for an excellent year of trekking.
Layout for Trek Larapinta’s new standing camp. Concept design by Matt Sykes.
Holger is straight to the point. ‘Flinders can’t do mass tourism.’ Once upon a time a tour operator would rock into a new destination, set up using skills from elsewhere without contributing to the local community. That’s not what Holger sees for Flinders. He believes that the Island needs to follow a community-based tourism model. That’s why we’re starting conversations with elders in the community because they have the ability to kick-start or kill new ideas.
The opportunities presented with Aboriginal cultural connections on the Island are at the front of Holger’s mind. ‘The truth of Aboriginal history in Tasmania is blatantly obvious on Flinders Island. It brings their story to life.’ Wybalena, the mission set up to incarcerate and assimilate Vicki Green’s ancestors, is the perfect interpretation tool because it speaks for itself.
Freycinet meets the Bay of Fires – Strzelecki Peaks from Trousers Point.
In terms of walking experience, Holger describes it as a clash of the titans – the Bay of Fires meets Freycinet Peninsula. The same beauty, the same diversity of ecosystems but here you ‘feel like you’re still pioneering’. This ‘sense of real adventure’ is tied into our 7-day Flinders Island Walking Tour. You’re walking pristine coastline and swimming in turquoise waters for half of the week, and then climbing epic mountains and enjoying picnics with breathtaking views for the other half. Not to mention the spectacular journey to and from the island!
In 2013, we ran our first tour on Flinders. This year all our trips were fully booked. Next year we already have two trips fully booked, so please get in contact with Kym in our office to book your own Flinders Island adventure.
Tucking into lunch, Killiekrankie Bay in the distance.
Part 2- Summary
Our futures are intertwined. The young depend on the old, while the old depend on the young. At some point, the responsibilities to care for country are handed on to us. How much knowledge is shared in the transfer depends on our ability to listen.
There are generations, those of middle age, who also factor into this conversation. These forty to sixty year olds are likely to be our main customers. Can we lead their hand and dollars toward local, community-based and sustainable tourism? Time will tell. After all, the middle aged depend on the young to make remote locations accessible, and on the old so that a full understanding and connection to the place can be grasped through stories.
Successful tourism islands with outstanding natural values, ancient heritage and complex social histories already exist in Tasmania. Maria Island is an internationally renowned example. The land bridge makes Flinders and we want to work with our elders to make Flinders Island a bridge between two cultures, an ancient pathway renewed and a genuine precedent for intergenerational exchange. This history is yet to be told and it will be an immeasurable gift to tourists if generations, young and old, find a voice in this conversation.
Sunset at Northeast River.