Swallows and Amazons…
For many tourists and weekenders, Maria Island is a great place to visit and observe. Looking from the mainland shore – “The island (could) seem one of those places … that belong to a life in which (one might) never take part.”― Arthur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons
For those of us bred and brought up on the southeast coast, it was and remains a kind of lifeblood thing. The island’s heartbeat is almost our heartbeat…
For me, it underlines the best days I had as a child. My grandfather and Maria Island were synonymous. Many of our Swallows and Amazon adventures happened there as children. I was reminded strongly of this the other day when I commented to a friend that as children, when my grandfather sailed us over to the island, we would most often be the only people there. The only people at a settlement that time and the government had forgotten and which was beginning to crumble into the very fabric of the island. We could clamber down into the cellars of the houses, read the old newspapers that lined the walls. Fossick and hunt for things that tickled pre-teen fancies.
Then the government declared it a National Park which was fortuitous as it has convict and post-transportation buildings that deserve preservation, as well as an ecology that deserves extreme protection.
Although I grew up, I never grew out of Maria Island. It is as filled with beauty, enigmatic shadows, a strange history, enticing waters and a place for the imagination as it ever was when I was aged between birth and adulthood.
The first creative story I ever entered in a competition was written about Maria Island and the fortune-telling abilities of Old Ruby who lived there. The story won an award at the time – I was sixteen. My soul seemed to know that I would be a writer one day even if I didn’t.
And so every time I go to the island, even if it was only yesterday and we go again today, it is like a pilgrimage. There is only one other place in the world that makes my heart beat just as strongly – House from where we depart to have these continuing Swallows and Amazon moments…
Fascinating stuff, Prue! I’d never heard of Maria Island. These photos are haunting.
Thanks Anne and Happy New Year. That’s a perfect word – haunting. It was originally a convict settlement, felt to be far enough off- shore to send offenders when they arrived in Hobart after being transported from England in the 1800’s. It’s had a fascinating and chequered history and is now being visited by many tourists. It’s a two edged sword. One needs to find one’s space away from the masses (see last post – Superb Sunday), but without the masses the history wouldn’t be protected. It’s the setting for a book I’ll be writing in a year or so, using the small piece I won the teenage award for as the spark!
How lovely, and yes, haunting to see the place that has formed a part of your soul. I’m so glad Australia has preserved this part of her past.
Thanks so much Patricia S. It’s one of the places I would take you if you visited as i suspect there would be a miniature map and a miniature book in it. You would be inspired…
I read all the Swallows and Amazons books avidly as a child. They were to me as Harry Potter is to the younger generation. This island seems like a perfect place to have Swallows and Amazons type adventures. Somewhere to conjure up wonderful daydreams.
I read all Swallows and Amazons too, Kathyrn, and delighted in the TV adaptation as well. The island is exactly that, as you say. The stuff of daydreams.