Meeting someone on the main street of Whitemark, Flinders Island, can’t be compared with a meeting on the steps at Flinders Street station but as the clock turned two we knew that our man had arrived. In a salmon pink shirt, boardshorts and sandals and carrying plastic shopping bags, this middle aged gent had the appearance of a sun bleached surf bum but I soon got to know that there was more than meets the eye.

Palana Retreat - Flinders Island

Palana Retreat: Flinders Island (photo by Roger Findlay)

Meeting Daryl Butler: Flinders Island Friend

by Roger Findlay

Daryl Butler is his name. He is the owner of Palana Retreat at the northern end of the island and he was to be our host for the next few days. We packed our bags into the back of his dual cab and squeezed in among the bags of provisions for the forty minute drive. Palana isn’t the place to go if you want swings, roundabouts, beer and boobs. It’s a place to go when you want to relax. With the nearest shop, pub and petrol 60km away, once you’re there, you’re there.

For those that don’t like cooking or for those who haven’t brought provisions, there is a wonderful man at your service. His name (yes, you’ve guessed) Daryl Butler. For the miserly amount of $40 per head, this wonderful man will prepare, cook and deliver a three course meal to your accommodation. He will then clear the table and wash the dishes. Now you know why I’m going to marry a bloke next time around!

Full Butler Service and a Three Course Dinner

Without intruding, Daryl will join you for nibbles and drinkies out on the deck overlooking the ocean. This is where we got to know him and what he is to the island and the people. After a few choice reds from our own wine cellar, Daryl slipped away to make sure that the piece de resistance hadn’t escaped.

At precisely 7pm, Daryl (the butler) arrived with a platter of Tasmanian cheeses, biscuits and nuts. We had enjoyed his company earlier and invited him to stay for a red. (An offer he couldn’t refuse.) In no time, he was off and back with our entrée of soft cheese wrapped in smoked salmon with slices of homemade bread. No red this time. Just the two of us and the romance of the occasion.

Daryl Butler - Tasmanian Cheese and Salmon

Soft cheese wrapped in smoked salmon (photo by Roger Findlay)

Crayfish: Making Jeanette’s Day

The photo best describes what came next. I just wish Daryl had stayed to see a Cape Town girl suck the life out of every cray leg. Her plate resembled a demolition site such is the inherent skill of the creature I wed. I’ve seen her gnawing on sheep trotters, swallowing fish eyes and loading chillied brain sandwiches into her mush but this was different. Seeing the joy on her face and the extremes she went to in removing the last bit was almost as good as watching United lose.

Daryl Butler - Jeanette with Cray

Crayfish dinner: Palana Retreat (photo by Roger Findlay)

Daryl Butler at Home on Flinders Island

Originally from Melbourne, Daryl Butler is very much part of Flinders Island. He comes and goes as does his good lady, Judy Armstrong, but his love for the island and the people is immeasurable. We were guests who he’d never met before but he enjoyed our company and sharing friends with us and that’s why he’s such an exceptional host with the qualities rarely found.

He struck me as being a caring friend to everyone and, if anyone needed a hand, he would be willing to help. Apart from being involved in the community he keeps busy with house extensions and installing satellite t.v. systems. He likes to get out on the sea when it’s calm to check the pot so that tourists like myself have something to write about.

Daryl Butler - Flinders Island Beach

Palana Retreat: Flinders Island (photo by Roger Findlay)

Maybe it’s time for me, too, to start living the dream although I think I’m doing that now!

Roger Findlay spends all his holidays in Tasmania, then writes about the experience for Think Tasmania. If you’d like Roger to visit you in the name of research (so we can publish information about your business), please contact us.

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Map: Palana Retreat, Flinders Island Tasmania

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