An island life of multi-tasking

Swamphen owner Mel wearing a hi-vis shirt, standing in front of a yellow concrete truck.
I originally posted this on Instagram & Facebook but it got such positive reactions that I thought I should include it here too. It’s very common on Flinders Island for people to have multiple roles and jobs, so I’m certainly not unusual in that regard. Small communities need the same tasks done as large ones, but there are fewer people to do them. Welcome to island life!

Well hello there!

I thought it was time I showed my face here again 😊
I’m terrible at finding time to post on social media (huge apologies to my gorgeous makers & creators who aren’t promoted nearly as much as they deserve!) but maybe this post will help explain why…
I seem to accumulate jobs like some people collect shoes. Most days I wake up and check what day it is, because that determines where & when I have to be anywhere (where am I today? Do I have to get up yet? Am I meant to already be somewhere?! 😳😄)
  • Swamphen owner Mel wearing a hi-vis shirt, standing in front of a yellow concrete truck.

Anyway, here’s me in some of my roles:

1. concrete truck driver for our business Furneaux Concrete (for which I’m also chief bookkeeper and bill payer)
2. teacher at the local school (TCE Business Studies in 2021, TCE Biology in 2022)
3. dental assistant for the visiting private dentist
4. occasional cow wrangler on our small farm. I love how placid our girls are 🐮
I also have several volunteer roles that sometimes require me to drop everything for a couple of hours or a couple of days.
Somewhere in there I also love messing about with lino printing and leatherwork, and getting out into the wilderness.
I try to keep the Swamphen as the stable point in my life (and predictable for my lovely customers), but it doesn’t always work out that way! So if sometimes you’re wondering why the shop isn’t open: this may help explain it 🙃
Welcome to island life, Mel-style 😄 there are never enough hours in my days 💚
Mel x

The Swamphen Goes Analogue (Again)

Purple Swamphen Flinders Island beach

Well, it was amazing while it lasted (thank you, wonderful supportive people!), but the time has come to officially turn off my increasingly-neglected online store 🙁  I can’t believe how busy it’s been in-store since July! The shop move coincided with Tasmanians being encouraged to explore their own state, so it’s been wonderfully bonkers busy adjusting to a new space and chatting with lovely visitors.

Anyone who’s ever sold something online will know how long it can take to snap a photo of something, upload it, write the guff to go with it, promote it to potential buyers, then arrange to send it to the new owner. Imagine doing that for many multiples of items… most of them one-off unique treasures… well, you get the idea. I need twice as many hours in my days. I’d much rather focus on greeting people in store and chatting about our wonderful items and island.

I’m still happy to post items off Flinders: if you think I might stock that doover you’ve been looking for, do get in touch via Instagram or email (hello AT Unfortunately the complicated nature of Facebook means that Messenger is awkward and slow for me… if that’s your preferred message app then use it, but it might take a day or two for me to get back to you (compared to a couple of hours for insta or email).

Anyway, I like to think that the slower gentler nature of the in-store experience suits Flinders Island better… it certainly suits me to take a day off and head to the beach instead of feeling tied to a computer! 🙂

The Swamphen finds a new nest!

Purple Swamphen Flinders Island sunset

Yes, the Flinders Island rumour is true: the Swamphen is expanding!

This time of year is a signigicant one for the Swampy: on 29th June 2014 the doors opened for the first time. Two years later Mel took over the business solo, freeing Helen up for coffee roasting & other important tasks. Now, as the Swamphen turns 6, we’re moving next door into the larger, lighter premises of 9 Lagoon Rd!

This move means the Swamphen can take in larger items (eg locally made furniture), expand the range of handmade gifts & plastic-free homewares, and hopefully offer workshops & classes. I have some big dreams!

I’m very conscious of keeping the growth slow & organic though, so I can keep it sustainable long-term. I can’t support my local makers & customers if I burn out! So bear with me as I learn how far I can fly 🙂

The move takes place during the July school holidays (Mon 6th onwards). I’ll be trying to stay open the whole time… we’ll see how well that goes!

Thank you so much to my amazing makers & customers for giving me the confidence to take this next step.