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School for unTourists.

The School for Tourists seeks to promote forms of tourism that contribute and forge better relationships between visitors and visited.

Nov 24, 2019

Words: Andrea Lane

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“… a new kind of tourism, not based on sightseeing nor using the landscape as an adventure playground. The School for Tourists seeks to promote forms of tourism that contribute and forge better relationships between visitors and visited, a way to improve the conditions of those who travel and those who host. In simple terms the school aims to make better tourists.” GRIZEDALE ARTS, UK.


When we began building a FLOATING ART STUDIO on Lake Tyers, our first thoughts went to the building of the vessel. Turns out it was a monumental job. And it cost a lot more than we planned/hoped/guessed. Hey, we were the first of our kind — who knew it would be so hard?

But we had local experts to lay the foundations, so we were able to jump all these hurdles with some gusto. The naval architects, marine surveyors, boatbuilders, skippers, engineers, artists, government departments, safety managers and… the insurance (ugh).

It was not a job for the faint-hearted, but the bureaucracy navigators bent over backwards to help float our boat.

Permits, approvals, rules and regs — we’ve survived them all.

Yes, we did it.

But how? Mostly because at the same time as building a vessel, we built a COMMUNIVERSITY alongside it.

A fledgling learning-village, created by East Gippslandians who wanted a better life/town/planet/future. In the end, this was our epiphany.

The COMMUNIVERSITY finished the vessel build. And it’s a thing of beauty.


The what?

It’s kind of self-explanatory — community + faux university — but we’re making our own FLOAT version.

We gather often in public spaces. We make plans through conversation, and the energy it generates.

We created our own curriculum (citizen-sourced curricula — for a greater good).

We exist on an ephemeral campus. Kayaks on the Lake, Trails in Forests, Foreshore Fossicking, Fungi Trails, Living with Weather, Retro Halls, and of, course, Tavern Tuesday — every Tuesday @ 10 am.

Exploring subjects we love — on the fly.

In the (existing) places that we inhabit.

No infrastructure to build or maintain — peppercorn rents for under-used places.

Along the way we realised we were designing and living the ‘next economy’ for small towns. A circular economy. A way of living in regional places that could thrive sustainably and derive its income from it’s ‘real value’. Valuing the knowledge of the community and its natural assets, rather than extraction or pursuing growth that simply leads to more waste. But we knew we had a lot to learn.


From COMMUNIVERSITY argy-bargy — listening, then distilling our thoughts — we have refined a dynamic and largely unwritten manifesto.

Central to FLOAT’s philosophy is the real life, real-time demonstration of a truly valuable role for art in leading change. We broadcast our role through residencies, commissions, conversation, curating, making, writing and activism within the Lake Tyers catchment. We find that Earth Laws and New Economy thinking, and talk of transforming governance, resonates, often, with our need for change (see New Economy Network Australia —

Over the last 15 years, F.INC has evolved from a grassroots organisation into an acclaimed and influential model for a new kind of East Gippsland art. We have worked outside the norm. Outside of galleries. And while many bits appear frustratingly ‘organic‘, some of us see chaos as necessarily preceding significant change.

FLOAT has become an iconic manifestation of that evolution. We say it’s nimble. We proudly respond to epiphanies. Our connections with like-minded arts organisations are global, national and local. The dots keep joining, no matter how little government affection is dedicated to the arts.


The key to FLOAT’s future is, of course, our ability to woo artists to make work here on Lake Tyers, to shape the nature of our thinking, to contribute to a collective voice for the environment and small towns. The goodwill is palpable. And reciprocal.

We called for adventurous artists and ecologists, writers and scientists who would embrace the vessel as our OBSERVATORIUM.

Every artist has risen to the challenge of our stringent environmental policy — to leave no footprint.

Living and working on board is minimal, and well-considered.

No random soaps, cleaning products or unnecessary packaging. Solar-powered (almost) everything. Biofuel heating (ugh — rethinking that one!).

Compost loos (take responsibility for your crap). Kayak to work every day.



And now the COMMUNIVERSITY collectively maintains the FLOAT vessel as volunteers.

+ We welcome our beloved ‘tourists’ — artists in residence, citizen artists, citizen scientists, citizen tourists.

+ We share homemade soup with artists as they arrive — to warm their cockles on a wild night.

+ We offer veggies from our community garden — to support their self-catered stay.

+ We paddle. We formed a kayak club. We are better at observing the weather that determines our journeys.

We navigate more and more ‘by nature’. We are stronger. We are fitter. We are easy in each other’s company. We instinctively help others. We bring food to share. We paddle to the FLOAT and clamber aboard for an artist’s talk every now and then.

+ We own our solutions.

So now — we look to share our experience and opportunities with others.

It’s time to launch our School for unTourists — an experimental creative adventure @ Lake Tyers.


WHAT: ‘O’ weekend (Orientation weekend)

WHEN: 15 + 16 February 2020

HQ: Lake Tyers Beach


(Numbers will be capped.
Prices will vary. Much will be free.)

An invitation to those adventurous souls who care about life in the regions. Get a taste of what we’re building and help shape the proposals that can embed artists across the Gippsland Lakes.

Walk or kayak from Lake Tyers Beach to historic Lake Tyers House with FLOAT guides. Learn as you go. Stay nearby for the weekend. Maybe the week. Maybe for good.


1 — FIRST — welcome

2 — FOLLOW THIS — walking trails + storytellers

3 — FABRICATE — makers + workshops

4 — FORUM — feed in to future stuff

5 — FIND — food stops + op shops + other important maps

6 — FRANK + FLORA — show + tell

7 — FLOATILLA — kayak with friends + strangers

8 — FORAGE — found food + seaweed appreciation

9 — FERAL — wild deer + venison delicacies

10 — F-ISH MARKET — fine artists + fancy foods

FOLLOW US @ Facebook/FLOAT.3909.

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