I’m not sure if I can find the word for what I love about the island.
I could yell ‘YOLO’ and no one would hear, and if they did, no one would care. I could dance down the road in the pouring rain and no one would see, and if they did, no one would care.
Isolation? Seclusion? Freedom? What do you call this? This, the ability to be independent from the outside world, from the rules and regulations of the mainland.
Yes. It’s another world, and it’s unique and special and different and irregular and funny and free. It’s beautiful and I love it, even though I’m not sure what exactly it is I love.
Maybe it’s just that little bit of special…

— ‘Little Bit of Special’ by Abby Strangward of Perseverance Primary School. Reprinted with permission from The Pinnacle and the author.

It’s possibly a bit insensitive of me to make an instant coffee on the way to French Island. The innocuous black powder that I casually heap into my plastic cup was partly responsible for the end of the island’s main industry. Chicory – a plant, similar in appearance to a parsnip – was the main island income source for over 70 years. Mainly used as an additive to make coffee go further, the advent of the instant stuff was chicory’s death knell. Then came a proposal in 1967 to replace chicory with something a bit stronger: a nuclear power plant. Fortunately the plant was never built, but today a new threat lurks.

“Who comes here?” I ask the deckhand as we cut through the chop from Stony Point jetty. “People who want to have a look round,” he says. “A lot of French people, actually. They come here because of the name, then realise there’s nothing to do.” I decide not to tell him my last name. Two pied cormorants perch on the tall marker beacons that guide the ferry into Tankerton Jetty. Fellow ferry passenger Alison Pitt watches them dry their sodden wings and asks: “Can you imagine the devastation round here if the port gets the go-ahead?” She’s referring to the proposed expansion of the Port of Hastings. It’s early days for the massive proposal, which would see construction of a second container port for Victoria just across the mud flats from where our ferry bobbed and the birds balanced…

…see the full story in Wild issue 144.