Home' Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser : January 4th 2018 Contents THE ADVERTISER, THURSDAY, JANUARY 4, 2018 - PAGE 11
Splendid isolation ~ French Island
All aboard! French Island mum Bronwyn Gwyther and baby Evelyn set off on the new
interisland ferry and head for home after their weekly visit to Cowes.
Baby, it’s fun over here!
THE thought of leaving home early in the
morning, packing up a young baby, sail-
ing four nautical miles and spending half a
day in Cowes, all for the sake of a half hour,
may seem a daunting prospect for any young
However, this is the scenario for French
Islander Bronwyn Gwyther when she brings
her baby daughter, seven month old Evelyn,
to Baby Rhyme Time at the Phillip Island Li-
brary on a Thursday morning.
Bronwyn is usually accompanied by her
friend Gail and 15 month old daughter Sas-
It is an effort, these mums say, but one that
they feel is well worth it in terms of friend-
ship, enjoyment and an opportunity “to get
back to civilisation”.
“It’s a chance to come over and have lunch
with some of the other mums and do some
shopping before heading home. And, Evelyn
loves it so much!” said Bronwyn.
“It is an effort as I leave home at 7.30 in the
morning and drive the 15 minutes to the jetty
(at Tankerton), park the car and wait for the 8
o’clock ferry,” she said.
With time to spare after the half hour trip
across Western Port, Bronwyn and Gail look
forward to a cup of coffee as they make their
way to the library for the 10.30am Baby
Although it is only a 30 minute session, it
enables them to catch up with local mums,
have lunch in town, do a quick shop and head
back to the jetty for the 12.40 ferry home.
The only hiccup is the weather.
“Sometimes when it’s cold and wet and
windy, we’re standing on the jetty and think-
ing to ourselves, ‘why are we doing this?’ On
a couple of occasions we’ve been told by the
crew ‘we can get you over there but we may
not be able to get you back’,” said Bronwyn.
“So, we’ve just turned around and driven
back home,” she added.
Baby Rhyme Time has been the pattern of
her week for the past six months since she
arrived on French Island, with her newborn
baby, to settle into life with her partner James.
Bronwyn first heard about these library
sessions from her Maternal and Child Health
Nurse, Kathryn Anderson, who is based on
With no such services available on French
Island, this connection has proven to be an
“Because we don’t have a council, we don’t
have these services,” Bronwyn explained.
She said there are only three little ones on
French Island at present and two more due
in the New Year, one of which will be Gail’s
The need to get together sees these three
mothers meeting up regularly and making
time for the babies to play.
Living on French Island has been a major
shift in Bronwyn’s life, but is one that appeals
to her love of the bush and the tranquillity of
Prior to that Brownyn was very much a pro -
fessional city-slicker – living in a pad in North
Melbourne and working and studying for her
Masters Degree in Environmental Science.
The opportunity to live in such a small and
secluded community came by chance when
she and James were pedalling around the is-
land on a short holiday two years ago.
“We saw these 50 acres and house for sale,
fell in love with it and bought it!” she said.
The move away from Melbourne saw James
settle in first, while Bronwyn waited until after
the baby was born.
“I like that fact that there’s not too much
structure on French Island; and that it has
beautiful bushland. Although we don’t have
services we do have a strong community base.
Everybody helps each other.
“It’s what I imagine Gippsland used to be
like in the old days,” Bronwyn explained.
“When Evelyn and I arrived, the community
came over to warmly welcome us and support
us in any way. It was lovely,” she said.
When she’s not island hopping Bronwyn en-
joys being home and being mum.
“I feel I have the best of both worlds. I love
being mum and I’m about to return to work
which I can do from home,” she said.
She’s looking forward to the change and of
sharing the load with James, who will be the
new dad at Baby Rhyme Time as of early next
Elizabeth Island, a 65 acre private island, is for sale and can be reached by boat from
The Oka tour bus, which can now access remote parts of the island.
At one stage there were 25 working chicory kilns on French Island that would use about
700 tonnes of wood annually to dry the chicory, which was used as a coffee substitute.
‘Spike’ is one of the captains of the MV Naturaliste, which was used to ferry a ship from
Argentina to Antarctica.
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