On Friday May 22 at 7:30am I boarded the ferry to North Keppel Island (Kanomi) along with a group of other writers, our tutors, island staff and our cook for the three days. Our accommodation was to be the North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre. Our tutors were Dr Lynda Hawryluk and Professor Donna Lee Brien.
The morning sea was relatively flat which made for a pleasant trip to the island. Warnings that our trip home on Sunday afternoon would be very different, were concerning as I’m a terrible sailor. Fortunately I’d packed the travel sickness pills.
Our cabin, which I shared with my two friends Liz and Jenny and one other lady, was comfortable in a basic fashion. Two rooms each had two sets of bunk beds and another small room had a single bed. The bathroom with shower and washbasin was very adequate, but the separate self-composting toilet occasionally made the nostrils twitch. We discovered, as long as the louvres were kept open, the air blowing through kept odours to a minimum. The beach was only a short walk behind the cabin and Jenny braved the water for a swim, but with a cold wind blowing for most of the time I decided to pass on that pleasure.
The theme of the workshops was Resilience for writers in regional areas and we participated in a number of interactive sessions that explored this theme. One session on Saturday afternoon was facilitated by local singer/songwriter Nicole Leah. We brainstormed ideas on three different themes which Nicole took away and wrote into a song. She performed the song for us at dinner that night, and the result was amazingly good. She is certainly a very talented lady.
On the Saturday morning a few of us skipped a workshop and spent a pleasant hour or two walking on the island. The Keppel Bay lookout was well worth the visit, along with pristine beaches and unspoiled forests. We returned to discover we’d missed seeing the island museum and the accompanying brief – to write a story from the perspective of the island’s original inhabitants, before the arrival of Europeans. Fortunately we were able to view the fascinating little museum at our leisure and found plenty of inspiration there for our stories.
Over the entire three days we enjoyed good, hearty meals cooked fresh by our resident chef. With morning and afternoon teas included, we came away feeling as if we needn’t eat again for a while. Curlews wandered around the outdoor tables at meal times in search of scraps. It is of concern that they have forsaken their usual nocturnal habits because of our presence on the island.
On our return journey, the sea was as rough as predicted. With the help of my pills, I was a bit nauseous and glad to reach land, but nothing worse. Without them, I’m sure I would have been miserably ill!
I can thoroughly recommend this very affordable workshop, in a beautiful relaxing setting, to any interested writers. The workshops are a yearly event and have been occurring for over a decade.