Frank Flynn, originally from Melbourne has ditched city life and moved to the quiet coastal paradise of Cape Paterson at the end of 2018 and has found home. Frank enjoys writing and photographing the stunning coast and six beaches of The Cape. He’s a Nextdoor Lead, and his passion for his neighbourhood combined with his community ties, has helped him grow the local community to one of the strongest in Victoria.
He has retired to Cape Paterson – in the Bass Council area, not too far from the town centre of Wonthaggi.
What started off as a holiday destination for Frank has now become a full time love affair with a place he describes as an unassuming piece of the Australian coastline, “tucked away at the end of a dead end road. A quiet place, perfect for contemplative walks on the beach and watching the clouds and squalls, sweep across the coast from Bass Strait.”
We asked Frank a few questions about The Cape, life in lockdown and why community matters to him…
You are one of the Nextdoor Leads in Cape Paterson and helped grow your neighbourhood to where you say most of the full time residents are on Nextdoor… How did you hear about us and what made you join your Nextdoor Community in the first place?
I had retired and was living at the coast for only a few months (my wife is still working in the city) so I am here alone a lot of the time. I was contacted by someone who had joined Nextdoor and was distributing invitations.
Having been a teacher all my life and having taught in the bush for a period of years, (a small dairy farming community on the Murray River) I already knew the value of making friends and the social aspects of knowing neighbours and being able to talk and smile and say hello to people as we go about our daily lives. Also knowing those that you do business with is a real bonus. Cape Paterson is also ‘Dog City’ so there is always someone out walking their pooch. It’s great to be able to stop and chat and feel that I really am part of the community.
Why do you feel it’s important to carve out time to give back to your community?
When you live in a community as small as this, you have two choices. You can isolate yourself if that’s what you want, and some people do want that. But by far, there are more people that want to be able to connect with someone, even if it’s a simple smile or a hello as you walk your dog.
In the same vein, as we are so isolated, and I was a permanent resident, I felt that it was important to be able to offer help to those who need it. I knew there were a lot of vacation only residents and it was important to let them know someone was looking after their place whilst they weren’t here. We had a massive storm in May 2019 and many, many houses were damaged. It was good to be able to offer to alert home owners that there were issues and also to have a central place like Nextdoor to suggest businesses that might be able to help with regards repairs etc. Someone is always asking for recommendations for plumbers or builders and it’s great to get feedback and suggestions. This is the part of Nextdoor that is really useful for me.
What has been the hardest part about physical distancing restrictions during COVID 19 and how did Covid affect your community?
Pretty soon after the whole Covid 19 thing blew up, someone on Nextdoor suggested that we distribute a handwritten flyer to all the neighbours who were self isolating, offering to help with picking up groceries, or deliver a precooked meal, or just have someone to talk to. The whole town was divided up and we delivered notes to every house. As there is only one milk bar and a small pub, some people did feel very isolated. The nearest big town is 9km away. As it turns out there were very few requests for assistance, but that didn’t matter. The point was that offers of help were there. It made everyone feel a little bit better.
What do you use Nextdoor for?
For heaps of things really. People post photos, send alerts for upcoming events, offer help, ask questions, ask for recommendations, inquire about lost pets and as there is quite some interest in overdevelopment of the area, it has become the central repository of community information. Lots of local businesses and trades people offer their services on Nextdoor. As quite a lot of people down here have retired, we use Nextdoor to communicate.
What is your favourite neighbourhood memory from childhood?
As I have lived most of my life near the beach, or water at least, I would have to say it’s long walks on the ever changing beach. There is something mesmerising about the constant movement of the sea. It is both terrifying and soothing at times.
What are your favourite neighbourhood spots?
There is a fantastic selection of things to do here. There are beaches and rock pools, cliff top walks and green hills to explore. Every walk is different.
You can swim and surf, fish if you want to. There is always someone out walking their dog and always someone to say hello to or just smile at. It is a true neighbourhood.