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Adelaide Bay
From bush to the rocks

Flinders Island

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Come with Sorrel as she bushwalks her through the wooden slopes and fern gulleys of Flinders Island.

Flinders is the largest of the 52 islands in the Furneaux Group in Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from the mainland of Australia. It is just 29km wide and 64km long and was probably once part of the land bridge joining Tasmania to Victoria, with Bass Strait being formed by melting ice after the last Ice Age.

Flinders Island was first identified by Europeans when Tobias Furneaux, commander of Captain Cook's support ship, became separated from the Endeavour in fog and saw the island group in 1773. Just three of the 52 islands are occupied.

Bass and Flinders circumnavigated the island between 1798 and 1799 and Governor King rewarded them by naming the strait and island after them.

While generally moderate in climate and boasting more sunny days than Queensland's Gold Coast and warmer winters and cooler summers than Melbourne, the Roaring Forties can have an impact at any time of year. The power which was behind the 19th-century windjammers creates crashing swells, angry storm clouds and westerly winds which can blow for several days.

Flinders Island has a granite backbone, with Mount Strzelecki the highest point at 756 metres. Its pink and grey cliffs reach to gentle green farmland. Half the island's area is coastal sand dunes and related soil deposits and many small streams flow to the coast.

The landscape is good for four-wheel drive vehicles and there are many walks to be enjoyed through wooded slopes and fern gullies. The island's diversity between high country and valleys comes as a pleasant surprise to first-time visitors.

There are deserted beaches where you can fossick for the Killiecrankie diamond, a hard form of topaz. You will also see sunken wrecks and convict-built lighthouses.

Over 200 species of birdlife lives on or visits the island each day, putting on a wonderful, but noisy, show. They range from tiny superb wrens to the giant wandering albatross. The Cape Barren goose — one of the world's rarest geese — is prolific, with around 12,000 flying between outer islands and the pastures of Flinders Island.

Native animals living in an unthreatened environment are echidna, including the uncommon albino, wombats, pademelons, brush tail, ring tail and pigmy possums, potoroos, skinks, snakes and bats. A night drive reveals the diversity of nocturnal animal life.

Surrounding waters are teeming with life; from the shore you can spot seals, dolphins and visiting whales.

Many botanists come here for the magnificent island flora. There are bush and rock orchids, dense tea trees, acacia, Tasmanian blue gum, Oyster Bay pine, white gum and Smithton peppermint.

The region has a solid farming and fishing base, employing around 40 percent of the workforce. Tourism and aquaculture are growth industries, the latter looking bright in abalone, scallop and mussel farming.

The Furneaux Tavern on the shores of Adelaide Bay has 10 accommodation units set in native gardens. They have queen or king beds and ensuite facilities and the Shearwater Restaurant offers wonderful food, topped off with views across Franklin Sound and its little islands. The Tavern Bar has counter lunches every day of the week and you can purchase take-away food for lunch and dinner.


The Tasmanian side of Bass Strait


Flinders Island Adventures has eight-day land-only packages starting at $1490 per person. Twin-share accommodation and meals are included. They run between December and April.

Furneaux Tavern rooms start at $75 a double. Shearwater Restaurant is open from Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner. The Tavern Bar is open each day.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Flinders Island Adventures
PO Box 103
Whitemark 7255
Ph: (03) 6359 4507

Qantas: 13 13 13

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