Simple Slow Travel: Summer Holiday with Pedal Power, Sail Power, Paddle Power

Summer holidays means time at the beach for us - a simple car-free month with no particular plans or programs, collecting wild greens and fossicking in granddad’s orchard. We just play, go koala spotting, ride our old bikes, splash in the lake, jump off jetties, sail, paddle about, make stuff, hang out with grandparents and cousins, and take little picnics. Bliss! We designed our permaculture lifestyle to include this month of retreat to relax, renew, reflect and connect.

The natural coastline, amazing sky and ever-changing lake. On a calm evening you can hear the Southern Ocean crashing on the 90 mile beach on the other side of the lake.

We have a special place we go each year to find this sense of peace and calm .… Raymond Island in the middle of Gippsland Lakes, Victoria, Australia - accessible only by ferry. I’ve been coming to here with my family for holidays since I was just a very small child. I think I’ve only missed one or two summers in my lifetime.  Now, I come here with my own family - it’s like a ‘pilgrimage’ - a time of renewal.
We arrive at the island, then walk, ride and go on the ferry for everything we need for weeks.  

To others, this little place might seem a bit dull. It’s just a little forested sand island with a small number of permanent residents and no shops or cafes either (although there are some across the ferry at Paynesville), but I love it. I feel like I've come home.

There’s a sense of timelessness here. Things change so much more slowly than where I live now in one of the fastest growing regions in Australia. (A new city of 60,000 people is about to be constructed between us and the coast.) 

Lake Victoria, just in front of my parent's island home.
This place, Raymond Island, is a place of significance for me on many levels. We have a long family connection. My Dad, who’s 80 this year, lived here as a teenager and the old house he built from local logs is still just standing. I also feel an affinity with the koala population here. I just love going walkabout to find and chat to the koalas.  My gran helped to bring them here as part of a wildlife conservation project back in the 1950s. And, in my early 20s I came here a lot by myself for thinking retreats. It’s where I discovered my lifelong passion and focus for wanting to live sustainably and in connection with the land and community.

This old fella was near the house today, down low munching on some fresh young gum leaves.
As soon as we arrive, the smell of the fresh sea air and the soothing sound of the waves and swans beckon us down to the lakeside, and to slow down. I find myself immediately breathing more deeply and feeling calm.

My challenge is to maintain this sense peace throughout the year, but I feel so strongly connected to this place, that when I’m back home, or anywhere in the world, I can simply close my eyes and I am here, at the Island. I can hear it, smell it, see the waves and birds, wander through the interconnected pathways of the koala forest, sense the ever-changing personality of the lake…

This year we caught the train from Melbourne - we all loved it! More train travel coming soon I think. What a fabulous service - kids travel free, first class was only $6 more, and there is an hour of free metro public transport either side of the trip to get to the regional station. Can't believe there were so many free seats at this peak holiday time.
Learning some sailing tips from Grandad. We love summer time with them here. We usually are 2000kms away.
Monty's story-telling heaven, this time he was in the Amazon looking for wildlife.

The Mirror dinghy, older than me, is a wonderful sailing boat to learn in and explore the Island's coastline.
The large lake system can change in an instant from a calm pond to exciting 'surf'.
Every day we go for lots of rides - sometimes for supplies, sometimes to go to a sheltered sand beach, or sometimes to go koala-spotting.  Maia was the first to spot some. The island is becoming an international destination for this activity. Everywhere you see people standing in the middle of the road looking up. Thankfully it's a quiet place and the roads are super safe.

Hugh getting some air. We happened on a BMX track  - a great destination for adventure-mad Hugh on our rides around the lakeside.

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