It’s the best thing I EVER did. I moved to Magnetic Island for a whole winter. I couldn’t face another dismal, bone-chillingly cold winter in Melbourne – I wanted to feel the sun every day on my body and swim in the sea in July.
This is what I learnt about island living, which might come in handy if you feel like having your own Cast Away experience (but with power, hot water and access to a dentist).
Don’t rush… ever
You’re on island time now. Of course they drive slower ‘round these parts and there’ll often be someone who wants to stop you for a chat. Sometimes drivers stop in the middle of the road to do so. Don’t toot your horn, it’s just island living.
Don’t judge books by their covers
The sorts of people you might’ve rushed to avoid in your city streets are often the biggest characters, who’ll provide the greatest rewards if you befriend them. Some of my best memories of Magnetic Island were spent with a crazy old bloke called Bob who lived on the beach with birds and was married to a turtle.
Swim each and every day
Remember: you live on an island. And what are islands surrounded by: the sea, of course. You came here to connect with nature, so, connect… each and every day. Don’t let a bit of rain put you off – you’re going to get wet anyway.
Let Facebook go, emails aren’t that important and The Voice will be back on again next year.
Never go to an island worried about modem speed and available digital TV channels. That all belongs in the big place across the sea… Australia. Leave the TV off, only check emails once a day (maximum), and forget about Facebook unless you really feel the need to brag.
Whether you live on an island or you’re just visiting, getting back into the real world can scare the stuffings out of you if you jump back into it too quickly. It’s easy to block the world out, but it might be an idea to scan the news headlines the day before you leave to dull the shock!
Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want every person knowing
Because they will; simple as that. Everyone knows everyone’s business, and it doesn’t even matter if you live here or not, visitors don’t escape the island telegraph. I got a hire car stuck on a dirt track once and the hire car people knew about it long before I got the car back.
Buy some milk thistle for your liver
There’s something about being surrounded by all that water that makes a person want to increase the amount of liquid in their body. There’s also something about a perfect sunset slipping into an empty ocean that makes you want to toast it. Watching MasterChef in your dark lounge room hardly invokes the same daily celebration instinct.
Take time out to stare
Don’t visit an island with a fixed agenda. You’d be surprised how many things there are to look at: Brahminy Kites circling on the thermals, whales in winter, dolphins year-round, rare dugongs making a public appearance. Allow some time to lie in a hammock and check it all out.
Chances are the local golf club of any island will be the place where the biggest larrikins gather. Even if you can barely hit a club, take the time to knock a few balls around and escape the tourists for a while.
The rewards will be worth it. All it takes is a five-minute stroll – even from a resort complex – and you’ll find some of the most pristine environment in Australia. Too many people make the mistake of spending all their time on the beach (or by their pool!), but trekking in the Aussie bush gives you a whole new perspective on what else is living on the island.
*Feature photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox