An isolated island in Bass Strait is setting its sights on lovebirds frustrated by coronavirus who are looking to flee the spotlight by eloping.
Flinders Island off Tasmania’s north-east coast wants to eclipse the traditional elopement destinations such as Thailand and Bali.
It is, after all, home to the beautiful killiecrankie diamond, which is a type of clear, ice blue, or pink-gold topaz.
Flinders Island Mayor Annie Revie wants some of the action other parts of Tasmania are attracting from elopers, and the island has launched an aggressive print marketing campaign to encourage visitors.
“It is literally over the sea, over the Bass Strait, but you don’t even need a passport. You can just come,” Cr Revie said.
“If you want to go somewhere else for a beautiful wedding, you want to find a beautiful place, and have your wedding guests experience a lovely trip overseas at the same time, then just take the flight to Flinders,” Ms Revie said.
Hobart-based company Honeyfig specialises in helping couples organise their elopement.
Creative director Gelisa Malaitai said Flinders Island ticked all the boxes of being isolated, beautiful, and full of unique experiences.
“It’s quite a luxury-experience island,” she said.
“You catch a plane over there, and they do only take smaller weddings, and so there is the opportunity to downsize a wedding that you’ve always dreamed of, with your closest and dearest.
“You don’t have to invite your Aunt Nancy!
“Instead of just having a big party for one night, you can be there for three days with your family and friends.
“You can go diving, fishing, hiking, walking, foraging, catch some crayfish and cook it up.
“It’s all about that experience and bringing that quality to your wedding.”
Couple found alternative to ‘heli-wedding’
Bitsy and Toby Scanes eloped from their Newcastle home in New South Wales to Tasmania’s Mount Wellington behind Hobart to get married.
“Ultimately we wanted the day to be about us,” Toby said.
“We knew where we were headed in life, and we wanted to honour each other on that day rather than pleasing or impressing or involving anybody else.
“And we’re not sort of people who really like attention put on to us.”
The March wedding was originally set to take place in New Zealand, but COVID-19 closed the borders with one week to go before the big day.
They ran away to Tasmania instead.
“Well, it was really fortunate at the end,” Bitsy said.
“We’d actually gone for something reasonably generic over in New Zealand. It was a heli-wedding, so it was an organised thing.
“When we think about how personalised our ceremony was in Tassie, I don’t think we would have got that in New Zealand.
“Tasmania has just sort of got everything. It’s this unique little island, it’s just all so different.
“The food and the people and the landscape are just what makes it.”
Regional Tasmania needs to ‘think outside the box’
It is this market of those couples wanting to elope overseas that Flinders Island is hoping to attract.
Tourism Industry Council chief executive officer Luke Martin said Flinders Island’s campaign to woo eloping couples is an example of how towns and centres across Tasmania need to think “outside the box” to attract visitors during COVID-19’s aftermath.
“It’s one of those innovations that people are pursuing,” he said.
“Embrace and try and do those tick-off-the-bucket-list opportunities by getting to Flinders and King islands and get to regional parts of the state you haven’t been to ever in your lifetime or for many years.
“I don’t think people realise until they get over there and realise ‘wow, this is a pretty special part of the world’, it’s pretty laid back, and it’s getting overseas without getting overseas.”