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World's first Slow Island

Reprinted with permission from Magnetic Times

While big trucks rumble over the Island and Nelly Bay Harbour terminal does it’s best to exemplify a congested city traffic jam, there is another Queensland island that is showing that maybe there is an alternate universe where the qualities of peaceful relaxation, tranquillity and charm are being embraced and not bulldozed. A place where the ever growing reaction to the “McBlanding” of culture is resisted - drawing inspiration from the Italian Slow Food movement which emphasises distinctive local quality, flavour in food and wine before food of the lowest common denominator. That island is Stradbroke Island, off Brisbane, which has recently been named as the world’s first Slow Island.

According to the Straddie Island News, the Stradbroke Slow Food Convivium’s (or branch’s) co-founder, Jackie Cooper, becoming the world’s first Slow Island is a great opportunity for Straddie to market itself to an audience interested in preserving its environment and celebrating its unique “otherness” from the mainland.

The Straddie News report quotes Jackie Cooper as saying, “In real, practical terms, being a Slow Island can have enormous economic benefit to the tourism industry and the island community”.

Magnetic Island Community Development Association President, Lorna Hempstead, told magnetictimes.com, “It’s a fantastic idea and sits well with the philosophy of many Island businesses which is of a relaxed, tropical island experience. It’s not about slow service but how you can enjoy the Island.

“The MI Bus Service drivers exemplify this when they stop where it is safe to pick up and put down passengers where it suits the passengers.

“Many residents move here for something distinctly different - the time to stop and have a talk to the neighbours on the nature strip or in the Post Office and catch up with friends.

“I don’t think it’s about changing anything but acknowledging the value of time as a precious commodity to be cherished and not dashed through.”

As for lowered speed limits, Lorna says, “That’s a contentious issue but personally I’d support a 50kmh speed limit. There is very few places you can safely drive at 60 on the Island.”

According to the organisation’s website, (click here) the movement was, founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986. “Slow Food is an international association that promotes food and wine culture, but also defends food and agricultural biodiversity worldwide.

“It opposes the standardisation of taste, defends the need for consumer information, protects cultural identities tied to food and gastronomic traditions, safeguards foods and cultivation and processing techniques inherited from tradition and defend domestic and wild animal and vegetable species."

Slow Food boasts 83,000 members worldwide and offices (in order of creation) in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the USA, France, Japan, and Great Britain. 

Story & montage: George Hirst

With acknowledgement to Stradbroke's Mr T for montage concept.