Flinders Island is the largest island in the Furneaux Group of 52 islands (and the only island with a permanent settlement, of about 900 people). It is located along the Bass Strait, which separates Tasmania from the mainland. Measuring 70 kilometers by 40 kilometers, Flinders Island has over 450 kilometers of road for visitors to use.
Flinders Island is located 20 kilometers off the north-eastern tip of Tasmania, Cape Portland.
The Furneaux Group was sighted by Tobias Furneaux in 1773, who was part of Captain Cook’s expedition, and then explored again in 1798 when Flinders and Bass circumnavigated Tasmania, proving it was an island.
The Furneaux group of islands used to be part of the land bridge which connected Tasmania to the mainland.
Flinders island is quite mountainous, with a third of the land mass being hilly and rocky, with granite ridges. Mount Strzelecki and the surrounding area form Strzelecki National Park. The higher elevations on the island are mainly forested, with eucalyptus. The coast has long sand dunes, lagoons, and wetlands, and the coastal land is covered by brush and scrubs.
18,000 years ago the Bass Plain was flooded to create Bass Strait, where Flinders Island is located. This means that flora and fauna has evolved differently than species in other areas in Australia. The island is also very unique because it is the location of some species’ northernmost habitat and others’ southernmost habitat.
The island has a variety of native animals: echidnas, wombats, skinks, potoroos, pademelons, geese, snakes, bats, possums, and wallabies. The Furneaux islands are known for their plethora of birds – over 200 species among the islands, including land birds, birds of prey, seabirds, shore, estuary and lagoon birds. Offshore visitors can find, dolphins, whales, and seals. Over 800 plant species can be found on the Furneaux Group islands.
From Flinders Island, you can explore over 50 islands, mostly uninhabited, with over 60 shipwrecks and over a 100 beaches.
Activities (Nature and Wildlife Interest)
Flinders Island is appealing because of its diversity of activities to interest all types of visitors. The island has many land- and water-based activities to choose from:
- Swimming and beachcombing: Flinders Island has kilometers of sandy beaches and sand dunes for visitors to explore.
- Rock-climbing: The granite ridges that run the length of the island provide ample opportunity for rock-climbing.
- Snorkeling and scuba diving: The island is surrounded by historical shipwrecks, making it an excellent diving location. Tasmania offers some of the best temperate diving in the world, with rich kelp forests and great visibility (up to 40 meters).
- Bushwalking: Walking is a very popular activity on the island, with many walking trails ranging from easy jaunts to more challenging hikes such as the walk to the Mt. Strzelecki summit.
- Boating and fishing: Charter a boat for cruising or fishing in the waters surrounding the island.
- Scenic flights: Take a scenic flight around the Furneaux group of islands.
- 4WD tours: join an off-roading tour which includes an educational component about the island’s history, wildlife, and flora and fauna.
- Fishing: Trevally, shark, calamari, salmon, and flathead are frequently caught off the coast of Flinders.
- Golfing: Flinders has a 9-hole links course, a course that has only been parred once since it was opened forty years ago.
- Bird-watching: The island is a stopover for many migratory birds; visitors can spot over 200 species of birds that inhabit or visit the island.
- Driving: Take the self-guided Flinders Island Drive Trail to visit many of the island’s natural attractions and to learn about the island’s abundant wildlife and birdlife.
Flinders Island offers a variety of accommodation options, from resorts, to hotels, motels, bed & breakfasts, and cabins. Visitors can stay in over a dozen places around the island, though the towns of Whitemark and Lady Barron offer clusters of accommodations.
The island has about 25 self-contained houses, cottages, and B&B options, including:
- Vistas on Trousers Point: Comprises eight luxury suites, within a 40,000 acre national park, near beaches
- Bucks at Lady Barron: three bedroom home overlooking the water at Lady Barron.
- Echo Hills: self-contained four bedroom cottage, which can accommodate eight people.
- Flinders Island Tourist Lodge: B&B located on a ridge with excellent views.
Seven camping grounds dot Flinders Island:
- North East River: near North Beach, across the dunes, with toilets, water, and a fire BBQ 100M from the camping area.
- Killiecrankie: privately-owned camping ground
- Allport Beach: 100M from the beach, with a free gas BBQ and toilet facilities
- Lillies Beach: Right on the beach (great for snorkeling and swimming), with a toilet and fire BBQ.
- Trousers Point Beach: With its own secluded swimming beach, toilet facilities, a fire BBQ, a gas BBQ. This is located in a national park, meaning that visitors must purchase a Parks Pass before their visit.
- Lady Barron: By Yellow Beach, with BBQ and toilet facilities and located next to the Lady Barron tennis courts.
- The Patriarchs: Located at the Patriarch Wildlife Sanctuary, with BBQ facilities.
There are several ways to reach Flinders Island by air:
- Scenic flights run from Melbourne (Moorabbin Airport, 90 minutes) and from Lanceston (across the Bass Strait, 40 minutes) on Airlines of Tasmania to Flinders Island Airport (3 kilometers north of Whitemark).
- Regular commercial flights run from Essenden and Lanceston.
- Charter flights run from Melbourne, Bridport (Tasmania), Tooradin, and Gippsland (Victoria), and arrive at either Lady Barron or Whitemark airports.
Ferry services run between Bridport (Tasmania) and Port Welshpool (Victoria) to Lady Barron, but only once a week.