Flinders Island, Tasmania

Old Nov 28th, 2009, 11:03 PM
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Flinders Island, Tasmania

Bill and I spent 6 days on Flinders Island in November 2009. Our overall impressions of Flinders Island are that it is a wonderful short break destination, particularly for those who enjoy wildlife, walking, scenery and fishing. Its an ideal fly/drive destination being a fairly small area with a well developed road network, many of them gravel. Photos may be viewed at http://picasaweb.google.com/Treepol/FlindersIsland#

We travelled to Launceston and stayed at Kurrajong House http://www.kurrajonghouse.com.au/index.html, where we were welcomed by Graeme and Julie and little Olly (the Shih-tzu). We ate a lite Indian style dinner at Pickled Evenings in George Street Launceston before returning to Kurrajong House for a comfortable sleep and a full breakfast next morning.

We drove to the Launceston Airport and experienced a few anxious moments when we discovered we were in the wrong terminal and the flight was due to leave in 20 minutes. We quickly made our way to the Airlines of Tasmania compound, checked in and boarded the small plane for Flinders. The flight was very scenic, flying over rural northern Tasmania then the Bass Strait islands of the Furneaux Group before landing at Whitemark. We collected a hire car at the airport and drove to Whitemark for supplies and lunch before heading north to Killiekrankie Bay. Freckles Cafe provides a tasty light lunch with friendly service and some quality island made souvenirs together with a range of Tasmanian wines and imported beers.

The two days in the north of the island were unusually windy, making sightseeing on the western side of the island unappealing. Fortunately, the sheltered east coast provided pleasant days and consequently we made only one short trip to both Killiekrankie Bay and Palana. Next morning we left for Northeast River which was
my favourite spot on the island - it was so lovely that we returned in the late afternoon
to see the area in a different mood. Northeast River is renowned for good fishing, but the guys on the rock were having a bad day.

We walked on the rocks around the lighthouse and later along sparkling, sandy Jackson's Beach. There were animals in the undergrowth, mostly wallabies, perhaps wombats and the occasional blue-tongued lizard. The water was clear and clean, a brilliant blue with white sandy beaches. I particularly enjoyed the sight of a variety of seabirds resting and preening on a sand spit. Too soon it was time to head home for lunch and an afternoon drive to Mt Tanner Lookout for spectacular views over the island. We decided to return to Northeast River for a late afternoon visit where the tide had dropped much lower, uncovering a greater expanse of sand on sweeping Foochow Beach. I managed to take a poor photo of a Bennetts wallaby with fur lit by the setting sun and we stopped at a shack where noisy currawongs gathered to drink from the overflowing spouting. Driving back to Killiekrankie Bay we saw two wombats and numerous wallabies hopping along the road and grazing in roadside paddocks. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Next morning the wind had dropped considerably which made packing up and the trip down the west coast quite pleasant. We visited Emita, walked on Emita Beach and considered the walk to Castle Rock. Castle Rock can be seen from Emita and we decided to pass on the coastal walk in favour of exploring more bays on the drive south. Wybalenna Chapel was not open to visitors, however there was an interesting commemorative in the church yard, and a walk to the nearby cemetery provided a glimpse of island history. We continued on, taking time for a walk on Sawyers Beach before heading back to Whitemark for lunch at Freckles Cafe anda visit to the Supermarket to purchase fresh food for the next few days.

We took the coast road to Lady Barron and immediately noticed that the south of the island was much more rural than the north with less hills. We stayed at the Lady Barron Holiday Home, http://www.ladybarron.com/ where we were welcomed by Alan and Pat.

The house was cosy, well provisioned and had 3 bedrooms, one with a king-sized bed. There was a small verandah that overlooked Franklin Sound that was perfect for a pre-dinner drink. It was also only a five minute walk to the Furneaux Tavern which serves both counter and restaurant meals. The Lady Barron Holiday Home was an ideal location for fly-in guests as Pat's provisions and the well equipped kitchen and laundry made it possible to be fully self-catering if wanted.

We did a short drive along Potboil Road and in the other direction to Badger Corner during which we saw our first 'wild' Cape Barren Geese. The first evening we ate at the Tavern, fish and chips for me and scallops for Bill accompanied by Unavale wines produced on the island.

Next day was a visit to Strezlecki National Park where we did the Trousers Point walk, disturbing a wallaby along the way and stopped for elevenses at Fotheringate Beach. This is an area of renowned beauty with clean water where it was possible to watch schools of baby fish, clean sandy beaches and brilliant ‘orange’ rocks. Stopped at Vistas for lunch, a cheese platter and a new Tasmanian taste sensation called Rhubru, a non-alcoholic rhubarb drink made at Scottsdale. Ken, the owner, said that Melbourne Cup guests successfully mixed Rhubru with champagne and soda water. I am ordering a supply for Christmas and have discovered where I can buy it in Hobart.

We drove to Cameron Inlet that afternoon and were perturbed to see smoke rolling down the coast. This was a little mystery as there was no smoke smell, and the 'smoke' was a thick sea mist that obscured the length of Planters Beach. Drinks at the tavern were followed by a dinner of barbecue steaks bought from the Whitemark butcher.

Next morning was a return to Cameron Inlet, however, the sea mist was still quite heavy and it was easy to lose sight of Bill in the mist. I managed to get a dark photo of a male musk duck, a duck that has a distinctive large lobe hanging beneath a triangular bill. There were many black swan in the Inlet and a lone pelican. It was disappointing to discover that we couldn't take the hire car off the gravel roads and consequently could not access many of the coastal wetlands. However on the way to Patriarch's Inlet we found the Patriarchs Wildlife Trust, a gem for wildlife enthusiasts.

There were numerous birds and honeyeaters flying around the lunch area and a lone Bennetts wallaby. A number of walking trails promised excellent wildlife viewing, however as I was wearing Teva sandals it wasn't a good idea to walk too far into the bush due to snakes. There were many Cape Barren Geese, including a nesting pair and a family with 4 chicks. I was sorry to leave this peaceful place, however there was still more of the island to explore.

The centre of Flinders is very rural with large flocks of sheep and herds of beef cattle. The topography is mostly quite flat, with well signed lookouts such as Furneaux and Walkers that provide extensive views. A highlight of the drive north was a family of Purple Swamp hens with a single chick. We returned to Lady Barron via the coast road and I opted for a walk around the foreshore while Bill enjoyed a beer on the balcony. There is a very small slip at Lady Barron where local humour was evident in the sign to boat owners using the facility, No cash, no splash. That night we ate in the restaurant at the Tavern, lamb backstrap for me and seafood for Bill, with local wine of course.

Next morning was a slow start and our last drive to Whitemark with a final lunch at Freckles Cafe. We shared the flight to Launceston with a group of local high school students who were travelling to Hobart for a sports function. It was a perfect day for flying over the islands where clear shallow bays, sandy coves and deeper water were laid out in various shades of blue and white.

It was a great break and we have already discussed returning with Bill's 4WD so that we can reach some of the more isolated coastal regions. A highly recommended destination.

Some practicalities

Flinders Island can be accessed by daily flights from Launceston with Airlines of Tasmania and the adult fare in November 2009 was $310 return. Less frequent flights run from Essendon, Victoria. It is also possible to ship a car to the island if the ferries are running, and they usually are but not this month :-Straitsman
.

Walkers Supermarket has a good range of groceries, with the widest choice being available on boat days. There isn't always fresh milk, but a good supply of UHT is usually available. I thought most things were about 10-20% more expensive than Hobart and that the shop at Lady Barron was more expensive than Walkers. Fuel was $1.68 per litre and a slab of beer about $49.

There is a wide variety of accommodation available on the island with many self-contained options. Camp grounds were plentiful and 4 star accommodation is available at Vistas at Trousers Point and Partridge Farm at Badger Corner near Lady Barron. More information is available at these websites:

http://www.visitflindersisland.com.au/

http://www.flinders.tas.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=261

Cheers,



Pol
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Old Nov 28th, 2009, 11:14 PM
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Many apologies for the formatting,

Pol.
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Old Nov 28th, 2009, 11:22 PM
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Great trip report Treepol - your photos are fantastic! I particularly liked the view of Killiekrankie Bay from Mt Tanner Lookout. Any idea what the creature on the beach was?
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Old Nov 29th, 2009, 02:16 AM
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Succint report Pol. "Practicalities" most useful. Can almost smell the sea! Glad you were able to see so many bird species. And yes, with tantalising views of places that can't be reached by 2wd, it almost seems like a must to take a 4wd on future visits. Do you know costs associated with the transfer? Thank you for taking the time to post.
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Old Dec 1st, 2009, 05:44 PM
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Really enjoyed your report and photos, thanks!
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Old Dec 1st, 2009, 11:52 PM
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Melnq8,

I think the creature is a bunch of tussocks that someone has carefully sculptured and then added eyes and a snout to make an echidna.

Sally123,

we were quoted $986 by Southern Shipping for a Hilux ute, so quite a long vehicle. When the cost of Bill's air ticket ($310) and 6 days car hire ($420) the boat fare is a good deal, particularly as its possible to carry extra fuel and the beer of course! Thats if you don't mind an 8 hour crossing with few facilities.

Locals told us that Southern Shipping allow drivers to travel with the vehicle while Les Dick charges approx. half the price but drivers have to fly and pick up vehicles on the island.

Patty

Thanks for your comments.

Cheers,


Pol
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Old Dec 4th, 2009, 01:02 AM
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Great info. Thank you Pol.
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