Scotland Island lies in Pittwater, not far from the mainland suburbs of Church Point and Bayview on the south. Across Pittwater to the West lies Kuring-gai Chase National Park and the Western Foreshore communities.
The island is one kilometre in diametre and .5 square kilometres in area or 52.5 square hectares, and is 120 metres above sea level at its highest point. The Spotted Gum (Eucalyptus maculata) forest, an Ecologically Endangered Community, covers most of the island.
Elizabeth Park, at the apex of the island, is a 6.8 hectare bushland reserve. Catherine Park, near Tennis Wharf, features a children’s playground, a barbecue and several picnic tables.
There are four ferry stops on the island: Bells, Carols, Eastern, and Tennis. Cargo Wharf provides access for barge deliveries of vehicles and other heavy goods.
There are an increasing number of vehicles on the island, but walking is the time-honoured method of transport.
Geology of the island
According to ‘Scotland Island’ in Wikipedia,
Around 18,000 years ago Scotland Island was a hill in a river valley. Following the last ice age, sea levels rose, flooding the valley, forming Pittwater and creating the island. There are many small beaches, consisting mainly of mud, mangroves and rocks. There are no rivers or cliffs, but some small caves towards the top of the island. The top of the island is sandstone and the lower part consists of shale.
Read more about the geological history of Pittwater on ‘Australia: The Land Where Time Began‘.
How are we different? A comparison between Scotland Islanders and the rest of Australia
Roy Baker provides an analysis of some of the information from the 2021 census.
Well-educated, well-paid and middle-aged: these are typical characteristics of a Scotland Islander, according to the 2021 census.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest census recorded that 711 people were ‘usually resident’ on Scotland Island on Tuesday, 10 August 2021. But the island’s population is partly seasonal: around 23% of the 358 private dwellings on the island were classed as ‘unoccupied’ that winter’s night. Given the number of weekender and holiday homes, it’s likely that the island’s summer population approaches one thousand.
In terms of household composition, Scotland Island is not particularly different from any other suburb. Out of the 260 island dwellings that were occupied in winter 2021, 37% provided housing for a couple with one or more children, 30% contained couples with no children, 22% were occupied by an adult living alone and 10% housed a single parent with one or more children. The average number of people per household was 2.5. These figures are roughly on par with the rest of Australia. But our gender mix is not quite the same as that for Australia generally. Of the 711 people living on the island in August 2016, 52% were male: the figure for the nation as a whole is 49%.
Where we start to look more different is in terms of median age: 48 for the island, 38 across Australia. That said, the island had a slightly larger proportion of children: in 2021, 20% of the island’s permanent population was under the age of 15, compared with 18% for Australia as a whole. What’s more, a much smaller slice of the island’s population was aged 75 or above: 5%, against 8%. This may be part of the reason why islanders, despite the higher median age, seem healthier than most Australians. When asked about a list of long-term health conditions, 69% of islanders reported that they suffered from none of them, compared with 64% of Australians as a whole.
Given that we have slightly more children than usual, and far fewer of us are elderly, what accounts for the older median age? The island has a dearth of young adults. Barely 13% of islanders were in their 20s or 30s, whereas 28% of Australian residents are aged between 20 and 39. In contrast, the island had a whopping 34% of its population in their 40s or 50s, as opposed to 25% across the nation. Being older, the typical islander has had longer to marry (50% versus 47%), but also more time to separate or divorce: 17%, against Australia’s 12%.
Thus far we islanders don’t seem so different from other Australians. We are just more middle-aged. But we start to see bigger differences when we look at our ethnic diversity. In some respects our suburb is much the same as many others. For instance, around two thirds of islanders were born in Australia, broadly similar to Australia as a whole. What is more, the chances of meeting an islander with both parents born in Australia are not so different from those of finding someone with similar parentage in another suburb: 37% for the island, 46% for elsewhere.
The difference lies more in where the island’s 37% migrant population comes from. In terms of countries where English is widely spoken, New Zealanders are more common on the island than elsewhere in the country, as are Canadians and Americans. As for countries of origin where English is not an official language, France was the most commonly cited.
But it’s the island’s English contingent that stands out most. Over 9% of islanders were born in England, compared to less than 4% in a typical Australian suburb. Around 16% of islanders have at least one parent born in England: the figure for the rest of Australia is closer to 6%. Almost half of islanders reported English ancestry, compared with one third of Australians as a whole. 84% of households on the island use only English at home, compared to 72% of households nationally.
Scotland Island isn’t exactly representative of the rest of Australia in terms of ethnicity, but it is education and employment that really mark us out. As at August 2021, 64% of the island’s permanent population aged 15 years or above had some kind of post-secondary education, as opposed to 52% in Australia as a whole. Perhaps as a result, a smaller proportion of us were unemployed: 3.5% of islanders self-identifying as part of the nation’s work force were out of a job, versus 5.1% for Australia. That said, a slightly smaller proportion of the island’s labour force worked full-time: 46% as against 56%. Instead, part-time work is more prevalent on the island relative to Australia: 40% versus 31%.
Returning to education, the most striking finding is that 43% of the island’s permanent adult population had a university degree, against 26% for Australia. This ties in with the fact that 53% of those in employment identified as ‘professionals’ or ‘managers’: the figure for Australia as a whole is 38%. In terms of median household income, the island was 37% ahead of the rest of Australia. 40% of households had an annual income above $156,000, compared with 24% across Australia. 85% of us owned our home, either outright (37%) or with a mortgage (48%). Australians in the rest of the country were more than twice as likely to rent but, unsurprisingly, they pay less.
Many would say that living on Scotland Island is hard work, and the census figures possibly bear this out. 31% of islanders aged 15 or over report 15 or more hours per week of unpaid domestic work, which includes chores such as shopping and gardening. This compares with 21% of Australians as a whole. But some of us still find time to help others. 23% of islanders over 15 reported doing some kind of voluntary work through an organisation or group in the last 12 months, compared with 14% nationally.
Putting all of this together, who typify Scotland Island’s permanent population? Taking ‘typical’ islanders to mean those with individual characteristics that reflect each of those most commonly found on our island, they are in their early 50s, married with children in primary school. They think of their ancestry as English, but were born in Australia to parents also born in this country. They are university-educated, ‘professional’, probably work in IT, and drive to a full-time job in order to pay off the mortgage on a three-bedroomed house. But then, few of us are ‘normal’ in every regard, are we?
More details relating to the 2021 census of Scotland Island can be found here: