Flinders Island - spectacular fishing, scenery and adventure
Especially, Flinders Island has not been discovered yet. It has no crowds, traffic jams or rip, rush and tear. The weather is mild by Tasmanian standards with frost free winters and more sunshine than the Gold Coast. It has spectacular natural beauty, lots of fish and friendly people. James Luddington reports on one of Tasmania's most productive fishing areas - Flinders Island.
Flinders Island is the largest of 52 islands lying north-south from Wilson's Promontory in Victoria and to the north east corner of Tasmania. What was once a land bridge is now a maze of islands, reefs and rips providing cover and a feeding ground for a huge range of different fish.
To the west the cold strongly tidal waters of Bass Strait, to the east the deep clear waters of the Tasman Sea provide a meeting point for the warm waters of the East Australian Current and the cold water of the Southern Ocean. Water temperatures range from 11 Degrees Celsius in March creating a year round fishery with different species of fish to be caught all through the year.
The changing currents and temperatures draw fish varieties more common in NSW to these waters as well as the superb cold water fish of Tasmania. The Striped Trumpeter and the Blue Eye Trevalla are ranked amongst the worlds finest table fish.
Flinders Island fishing calendar
SPRING - September, October, November
Longest days and warming temperatures trigger the inshore residents into action. From the beaches and rocks, wharves and seagrass flats, lures and flies on light gear produce good catches of Silver Trevally, Salmon, Flathead, Squid to 3 kg and large Southern Garfish, and night fishing in the surf, particularly around the full moon Gummy Shark are regularly caught. Around the outer islands and reefs Gummy Shark and Flathead to 2 -3 kg are a common catch. Leatherjackets, the west coast is home to the giant Horseshoe Leatherjacket. Squid, Pike and Barracouta run in the tide rips and feed voraciously. Offshore on the edge of the continental shelf Striped Trumpeter to 16 kg. Morwong and Coral Perch are ready for baits lowered into deep water.
SUMMER - December, January, February
With water temperatures rising rapidly and long hours of daylight, the warmer water fish start to move in. Of the Pelagics the first to arrive are the Yellowtail Kingfish, a summer resident on the outer reefs. Meanwhile the beaches, wharves and the North East River are at their best with all the resident fish full on the bite. November usually sees the first Snapper for the season and while not caught in large numbers 6 kg plus is the usual size. Offshore the deep water in late December early January produces the first catches of Albacore Tuna as well as good catches of Trumpeter and other bottom fish.
LATE SUMMER/AUTUMN - March, April, May
With the warm currents at their maximum flow and 21 Degrees Celsius water, this is the time for the big ones. Bluefin, Yellowfin, Big Eye and Striped Tuna, Striped Marlin and Mako all running on the shelf edge. Inshore huge schools of Salmon, Trevally and Warehou to 3 - 4 kg powering along the beaches or schooling on the outer reefs. Perfect for jigging, fly fishing or floating baits and always attendant on these schools the chance of a big Kingfish. Big School Sharks are also regularly caught at this time of year.
WINTER - June, July, August
Some of the stillest spells of weather for the year at this time and while the inshore fishing slows at the end of June, this is the time to put away the Tuna lures and flies. Spool a game reel with 750 meters of Gel-Spun and fish in 500 to 600 meters of water for Blue Eye Trevalla and Hapuka the giant deep water table fish. Bluefin and Makos are still caught into August out wide and the Striped Trumpeter is in peak condition at this time of year.
Flinders Island is a brilliant and largely unknown fishing destination. Close to the continental shelf, surrounded by currents and reefs and as a long north - south chain of islands always offering a sheltered side or corner. Visit Flinders either to fish from the beaches or boats, or come with friends and family for a holiday exploring the beaches, mountains and bushland, and spend a few minutes to catch your evening meal. Whichever, the island offers a warm and friendly welcome to visitors.
Accommodation ranges from Hotel, Lodge to cabins and well appointed self contained holiday cottages. Charter boats work from Lady Barron and Whitemark catering to a range of fishing and exploring tours from the bottom bouncing for an hour or two with the family to full on Game Fishing. Beach fishing tours to all the best spots are available by 4x4 with gear, bait and bar-be-que provided. A good range of fishing tackle and bait is available from the Post Office in Whitemark.
Tours of the Island
Lindsay Luddington guides a comprehensive range of vehicle tours of the island using a comfortable Toyota Land cruiser, to enable the visitor to see not only the more accessible beauty spots but also to explore some scenic high light and areas of interest not so accessible.
Lindsay likes to tailor these half and full day tours to any specific interests groups may have, and she seeks to give the visitor an impression of the sights, history and flora and fauna of Flinders Island.
Places to visit include Lookouts and Trails
West end over Mt. Tanner to Killiecrankie. Wild north east coast. Wingaroo heathlands and Mt. Boyes. Patriarch Lookout. Red Bluff to Sellars Point. Tobias Furneaux Lookout to Walkers Hill Lookout. Through Darling Range to Ranga. Badger Corner via south coast to Wallanippi.
Palana. Northeast River, Patriarch Inlet and east coast. Watering Beach. Trousers Point beaches and Fortheringgate Bay. Sawyers Bay. Settlement Point Beaches. West End. Killiecrankie. The Docks.
Historical and Environmental
Emita Museum. Wybalenna. Patriarch Wildlife Sanctuary. Camerons Inlet. Logans Lagoon. East coast Wetlands. Heathlands and Wildflowers in season. Strzelecki National Park.
Island products shopping
Flinders Island Fleece, superb hand and machine made knitted goods from island wool. Latitude 40 Wool filled puffer jackets and waterproof jackets, wool filled doonas, pillows and under blankets. Whitemark, the islands "˜capital"where you find Sweet Surprises for coffee, hand made chocolates and Roaring Forte gourmet fare. Furneaux Gallery for Art and Craft. The Gem Ship for Killiecrankie diamonds. Killiecrankie Top Shop for gemstones, souvenirs and ice-creams.
Tours visit a selection of these locations, depending on interests, prevailing weather and track conditions. Short walks and time to explore are a feature. All full day tours include a light lunch and morning or afternoon tea. There is a pick up and return to the place of accommodation. Flinders Island Adventures are licensed by the Dept. of Environmental and Land Management.
History of Flinders Island
Flinders Island (at 137,000 ha. One of Australia's largest) is the main island of the Furneaux Group, located in eastern Bass Strait between Victoria's Wilson's Promontory and Tasmania's Cape Portland. This group comprises two other large islands - Cape Barren and Clarke - plus almost 50 smaller islands of varying sizes, covering a total area of 1,992 square kilometres, and with a population of about 900 residents.
Many of the islands are conservation areas, State Reserves or Nature Reserves. The major industries of Flinders Island include grazing, fishing and tourism and the two main population centres are Whitemark and Lady Barron. It is a spectacularly beautiful area, with rugged mountain peaks and seemingly endless bays, beaches and coves where often the only other footprints belong to the wildlife, and always on the horizon, other islands, beckoning you to come and explore. This is a superb holiday destination. If you are an "˜outdoors"person - bushwalker, artist, rock climber, bird observer, plant enthusiast, horse rider, photographer, scuba diver - or just looking for a place to relax in a peaceful, unhurried environment then you will surely find Flinders Island ideal.
A Fascinating History - explorers, shipwrecks, sealers, epic tales of endurance, tragedy and survival - the Furneaux Group has it all. During the last Ice Age the islands formed part of a land bridge to what is now Tasmania. As temperatures rose so did sea levels, stranding the mountain-tops as groups of islands strung out across Bass Strait, and cutting off the Tasmanian Aboriginal people from the mainland.
The name Furneaux was given to this group of islands by Captain James Cook as a tribute to Captain Tobias Furneaux, of the Adventure, who accompanied him on his second voyage of discovery during 1772 to 1774. But one of the most interesting stories of recent history is that of the wreck of Sydney Cove, which had left Calcutta for Sydney in 1796, carrying 7000 gallons of rum as part of its cargo. Eighty year old Captain Guy Hamilton nursed his unseaworthy tub through Indian Ocean storms - round southern Tasmania and up the east coast, to be blown west through what was later named Banks Strait. The ship virtually sinking under him, Hamilton saw land ahead and beached his ship in a narrow channel between two small islands, the larger of which they named Preservation Island.
They stored the rum on a smaller "˜Rum"Island. The nearest source of help was Sydney Cove. On February 27th a party of seventeen men led by the mate, brave Hugh Thompson, left the ship's longboat on what was to be an epic journey of endurance, courage and tragedy. Sealers, Straitsmen and Aborigines The men who returned from the wreck of the Sydney Cove brought reports of islands teeming with seals - potential rich harvests of skins and oil.
First to exploit this field was Captain Charles Bishop, who in his lovely little 80 tonne brig Nautilus, had accompanied Bass and Flinders as far as the Furneaux Islands. Here Captain Bishop set up base camp at sheltered Kent Bay, on the south coast of Cape Barren Island, the second British settlement in Australia. Within a short time they had collected 9,000 skins and several tons of oil. As ships were only small, captains often left parties of men to continue sealing while they took stocks of skins and oil back to market.
The first exports from the new colony at Sydney Cove consisted of 26,500 skins, many of them from Bass Strait. When the tidal wave of ships and sealers rolled in from the straits, some of the men established in homes on small islands, remained.
Descended from these nine men and ten aboriginal women were the people referred to as the Straitsmen. Some of the men were old or crippled, others were deserters from ships or escaped convicts. With the help of the Aboriginal women, they maintained vegetable gardens and farms.
They lived off the land and the sea fishing, hunting, beachcombing, harvesting mutton birds and selling wallaby skins. Tragedy at Wybalenna in 1831, George Augustus Robinson brought most of the remaining Tasmanian Aboriginal people to Wybalenna, or Flinders Island, with a promise of sanctuary. Here it was intended that they would be "˜educated"to become "˜useful Christian workers"but perversely, over 100 of them, almost half, died there of illness and sheer homesickness for their own territory.
The chapel, all that remains of the settlement, has been restored by the National Trust and is rated as the third most historic building in Tasmania.
When to go? Any time of the year! It's definitely not just the sort of place to visit only in summer. The climate is mild and temperature, with few frosts and it rarely gets too hot in summer, with low moderate rainfall and mild conditions. There is no particularly windy season as such, and the island can be very beautiful at any time of the year, for different reasons.
In late winter through to the end of spring, for instance, the island is a green jewel with bulbs and wildflowers gloriously blooming - it's the perfect time for walking, exploring and settling down in front of a cosy fire in the evening.
The bush and coastal walking is magnificent all year round - and if you are an artist or a photographer, the light is even brighter in spring and autumn than it is in summer. So, come any time!
Accommodation: Various types of excellent accommodation are available - ranging from a motel and a country hotel, to guest houses, a cabin park and many lovely beach and farm cottages.
For information on Flinders Island Ph: 1800 806 801 or The Secretary, Flinders Is. Tourism Assoc. Ph: 03 6359 6526
For travel and holidays to Flinders Island: - From Tasmania and Latrobe Valley, Victoria - Contact Airlines of Tasmania Ph: (03) 6323 2330 Fax: (03) 6334 8877
From Melbourne/Moorabbin contact Aus-Air Ph: (03) 9580 6166 Fax: (03) 9580 8955
For special fishing packages:
Ph: (03) 9205 0881 Fax: (03) 9205 00885
Corporate Fishing Charters
Ph: (03) 9654 2022 Fax: (03) 9654 7226