The north of Flinders
Flinders Island is really an island in two halves. The south is more developed and has most of the island’s social infrastructure and economic activity. The north is more ‘au naturel’, a few small settlements on the coast with scattered farm houses and a growing number of tourist accommodations; some rough and some very nice with great views. We are staying in a Yurt at the bottom of the island near Trousers Pt beneath the Strzelecki Range peaks. Mt Strzelecki at 756m is the tallest peak in the range and is a five hour walk to the top and back.
A yurt ‘house’, in the traditional sense is of Mongolian origin, is lived in traditionally by semi nomadic people. Of circular shape and made of skins etc the yurts were portable whilst being sturdy and protective from the elements. Our Yurt is twelve sided, a large single room with side annexes for bathroom, kitchenette and store rooms, cupboards. Not portable! It looks out over two small ponds that supply water to the property. Drinking water is filtered rain water, recommended to be boiled. In the old days Allthego used to drink unfiltered rainwater from tanks and never boiled it!
Following the island’s discovery by Europeans in the early 1800s it’s main claim to fame was as a site for sealing. The sealers were so ‘successful’ that they effectively wiped the seals out, they are only now slowly returning, we didn’t see any.
Flinders is also the location of a place that is infamous in the European treatment of the Tasmanian aboriginal. Wybalenna, on the west coast, is the location of a settlement to which upwards of 140 aboriginals were brought between 1833 and 1847 to ‘escape’ the elimination and removal programs of the Tasmanian authorities. The majority died from poor living conditions over a three year period, after the failure of the settlement the remainder (47) were returned to Tasmania. All that remains of the Wybalenna settlement is the restored chapel and graveyard.
Mutton birds call Flinders home and thousands of them return here annually after their long flight from the Bering Sea in the far north Pacific. Mutton birding is a continuing industry on the Island, with a short recreational and commercial season. Mutton bird chicks are ‘collected and milked’ for their oil, then snap frozen for human consumption. A lot are exported to New Zealand. We tried a mutton bird arancini as an entree, before some fish n chips. Harmless but wouldn’t rave about it!
There are numerous wallabies around, quite small fellows, and one has to have an eye out for them on the road lest they meet their maker. Most cars have bull bars! Some menus we saw featured ‘wallaby rump’ and there was a wallaby sausage roll. So there is a bit of industry here in wallaby meat as well!
In the early 1900s there was much land clearing and today sheep and cattle are everywhere.
We were filled in on numbers: around 950 humans, 30,000 cows and 3,000,000 wallaby. The wallabies are winning.
The coastline certainly has some wonderful features of lichen covered granite rock shelves and boulders. The water is crystal clear and the beaches postcard sights. Castle Rock is particularly impressive and a prominent feature on the shoreline. More coastline next time!