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…