Raymond Island Sustainability Festival Random Notes

East Gippsland Shire team and friends
East Gippsland Shire team and friends

I was invited to the second Sustainability Festival run by the Anglican Church at The Abbey on Raymond Island by the Reverend Edie Ashley. (see below) I motored down to Paynesville (Toonalook) on a fine spring day and parked behind the shops. I then walked the short distance to the Lake shore and boarded the vehicle ferry to take us to the island. As we crossed the hundred yards of water of McMillan Strait (named after a prominent squatter who travelled through by boat in 1842) I pondered that here was the place that the eldest son of Bungeleen, a Kurnai warrior, drowned in 1847 whilst escaping from the Native Police. On Raymond Island (named after another squatter during same boat trip) I strolled along the coastal boardwalk for 10 minutes or so to arrive at The Abbey.

The Abbey is comprised of a collection of buildings including a large A frame hall and kitchen, a historic church and other buildings in a beautiful, picturesque setting of low lying land, beside Lake Victoria. There were various organisations and bodies on display in a large adjacent open space including the CFA, East Gippsland Shire, Mine Free Glenaladale and the Renewable Energy Trailer of Ian Southall and various activities were organised for young and old. Aside from general interest my purpose in being there was to introduce the keynote speaker Dr Scott Power of the BOM talk on climate change. (see below) Following Scott’s successful and highly informative power point lecture, attended by about 60 people, my U3A ‘Environmental Sustainability’ lecturer Alistair Mailer asked a tongue in cheek question about the Abbey flooding following sea level rise which brought quite a few laughs. He later pointed out that there was a serious side to his question.

Afterwards I wandered around chatting to various people including Ian Southall. Ian and I had a long discussion on the progress, design and pricing of batteries in the current ‘clean disruption’. For 30 years the electricity supply for my house had been wind and solar with the energy stored in lead acid deep cycle batteries. These were second-hand, cumbersome, required continuous maintenance and daily check-ups and were relatively expensive. The lithium-ion developments and other technologies are truly revolutionary. I also spent some time chatting with East Gippsland Shire Environmental Officer Rebecca Lamble and her assistant with their table set under a stately gum tree. A few metres above us a Koala with offspring on her back shuffled through the branches.

By midday I was starting to tire (my day starts at first light) and decided to forgo the bus trip to revegetation sites on the island with Landcare organiser Paul Harvey. But before departing just outside the A frame a photographer was busy taking images of what appeared to be an ordinary eucalypt. On closer inspection I noted a Tawny Frogmouth perched low down in the branches. “Two adults and two juveniles” I was told. Whilst waiting for the new arrivals to leave the ferry before boarding I met and chatted briefly with Beth Ripper, former Wellington Shire Mayor, chair of the Gippsland Climate Change Network and a very distant cousin. Heading home after such an eventful and pleasant day it occurred to me that there are ‘magic moments’ even for someone involved in the often tedious occupation of ‘climate activist’.