Furneaux Group from space, April 1993
|Area||1,333 km2 (515 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||756 m (2,480 ft)|
|Highest point||Mount Strzelecki|
|LGA||Municipality of Flinders Island|
|Largest city||Whitemark (pop. population 170)|
|Population||897 (as of 2005)|
|Density||0.673 /km2 (1.743 /sq mi)|
Flinders Island was first colonised at least 35,000 years ago, when people made their way across the then-land bridge which is now Bass Strait. A population remained until about 4,500 years ago, succumbing to thirst and hunger following an acute El Niño climate shift.
Some of the south-eastern islands of the Furneaux Group were first recorded in 1773 by British navigator Tobias Furneaux, commander of HMS Adventure, the support vessel with James Cook on Cook’s second voyage. In February 1798 British navigator Matthew Flinders charted some of the southern islands, using one of the schooner Francis' open boats. Later that year, Flinders returned and finished charting the islands in the Norfolk, he then went on to complete the first circumnavigation of Tasmania (1798–99), accompanied by George Bass, proving Tasmania to be an island separated from the Australian mainland by Bass Strait, later named in honour of George Bass.
James Cook named the islands Furneaux's Islands, after Tobias Furneaux. Flinders named the largest island in the group "Great Island". He also named a group of mountains on Flinders Island, the "Three Patriarchs". The small island just to the east, Flinders named "Babel Island" from the noises made by the seabirds there. Phillip Parker King later named the largest island Flinders Island, after Matthew Flinders. There are three islands named "Flinders' Island"—the large island on the east side of Bass Strait, named by Phillip Parker King; an island in the Investigator Group of South Australia, named by Matthew Flinders after his young brother Samuel Flinders (midshipman on the Investigator); and an island in the Flinders Group north of Cooktown, Queensland was named after Matthew Flinders.
In the late 18th century, the island was frequented by sealers and Aboriginal women, the majority of whom had been kidnapped from their mainland tribes. Seal stocks soon collapsed, causing the last sealing permit to be issued in 1828. Many sealers' families chose to stay in the Furneaux Group, subsisting on cattle grazing and muttonbirding.
From 1830, the remnants of the Tasmanian Aboriginal population were exiled to Settlement Point (or Wybalenna, meaning Black Man's House) on Flinders Island. These 160 survivors were deemed to be safe from white settlers here, but conditions were poor, and the relocation scheme was short-lived. In 1847, after a campaign by the Aboriginal population against their Commandant, Henry Jeanneret, which involved a petition to Queen Victoria, the remaining 47 Aboriginals were again relocated, this time to Oyster Cove Station, an ex-convict settlement 56 kilometres south of Tasmania's capital, Hobart, where Truganini, the last full-blood Tasmanian Aborigine, died in 1876.[dubious ]
From the late 19th century freehold land was given out, but it was not until the 1950s that a proper settlement scheme was initiated, mainly drawing settlers from mainland Tasmania and central New South Wales to Flinders Island's eastern shore. The Municipality of Flinders Island was instituted in 1903.
Geography and nature
The island forms part of the state of Tasmania, and part of the Municipality of Flinders Island local government area. Flinders Island is only one of the many islands included in the Municipal area. Of these islands Flinders Island is the only island with more than one permanent settlement, and is by far the largest in the Furneaux Group.
The island is about 62 km from north to south, and 37 km from east to west. with a total land area of 1,333 km². Mount Strzelecki in the south west is the island's highest peak at 756 m. About a third of the island is mountainous and rugged with ridges of granite running the length of the island. The coastal areas are dominated by sandy deposits often taking the shape of dunes. Many coastal lagoons punctuate the eastern shore, formed by dunes blocking further drainage. This drainage is mainly provided by many small streams, few of them permanently flowing directly leading to the waters of Bass Strait or such a lagoon.
The coastal areas are mainly covered in scrub or shrubs, whereas the vegetation at a higher elevation consists of woodland, mainly eucalyptus species. The total number of plant species in the Furneaux Group well exceeds 800, showing the great biodiversity of its ecosystem. Animal species include Bennett's Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus), Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula), Cape Barren Goose (Cereopsis novaehollandiae), Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), Eastern Pygmy Possum (Cercartetus nanus), Potoroo (Potorous apicalis), Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus), Tasmanian Pademelon (Thylogale billardierii), and Cape Fur Seal (Arctocephalus pusillus). The area surrounding Mount Strzelecki in the south west of the island constitutes Strzelecki National Park. The island also supports a population of feral turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo).
Flinders Island has a mild Mediterranean climate. The summers are drier than the winters (the cloudiest season inside island), and the total annual average of the rainy days does not reach 800 mm.
|Days over 30 °C (86 °F):||4.8|
|Days over 35 °C (95 °F):||0.8|
|Days under 2 °C (35.6 °F):||21.1|
|Days under 0 °C (32 °F):||5.6|
|Average Annual Windspeed:||21–25 km/h (13–15 mi/h)|
|Record high °C (°F)||41.5
|Average high °C (°F)||22.1
|Average low °C (°F)||13.3
|Record low °C (°F)||2.6
|Precipitation mm (inches)||45.8
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||8.8||8.1||9.8||12.6||15.7||16.9||18.1||18.0||15.2||14.1||11.5||10.6||159.4|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||238.7||220.4||220.1||183.0||148.8||117.0||142.6||192.2||192.0||223.2||228.0||244.9||2,350.9|
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
Central Flinders Island Important Bird Area
A 30 km2 tract of land on the island, lying mainly to the north and east of Whitemark, has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) because it contains three breeding colonies of the endangered Forty-spotted Pardalote and habitat used by Flame Robins. It also supports populations of several of Tasmania's restricted-range endemic bird species, including the Green Rosella, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Black-headed Honeyeater, Strong-billed Honeyeater, Tasmanian Thornbill, Black Currawong and Dusky Robin.
Eastern Flinders Island Important Bird Area
A 187 km2 strip of land extending the full 70 km length of Flinders Island’s eastern coastline has also been identified as an IBA. it supports small numbers of Fairy Terns, large numbers of Hooded Plovers and over 1% of the world populations of Chestnut Teal, Pied Oystercatchers and Sooty Oystercatchers.
The population in 2005 was 897 people; the median age being 45.
Settlements include Whitemark (which has the island's main airstrip and about 170 inhabitants (2005) and Lady Barron (approx. 130 inhabitants), Blue Rocks, Emita, Killiecrankie, Lackrana, Leeka, Loccota, Lughrata, Memana, Palana, Ranga, Wingaroo, and Wybalenna (all below Lady Barron's population figure).
As of 4 October 2010, Sharp Airlines has been operating services between Essendon, Flinders Island and Launceston. Using 19-seat Metroliners, they fly between Essendon Airport and Flinders Island Airport three return flights a week (65 minutes) and Launceston Airport and Flinders Island Airport at least daily (25 minutes).
- Hiscock, Peter, Archaeology of Ancient Australia, London and New York, Routledge, 2008, pp.140–141
- Matthew Flinders' Observations 1801
- Matthew Flinders' Voyage to Terra Australis 1814
- The Early History of Tasmania, R. W. Giblin, 1928
- Gough, Julie. Entry for "Oyster Cove" in Alexander, Alison, The Companion to Tasmanian History. Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart 2005 (hardcover ISBN 1-86295-223-X)
- Focus on Flinders website
- Google Earth measurements
- Focus on Flinders fauna page
- "Climate Data". Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
- "Climate Statistics for FLINDERS ISLAND AIRPORT". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- "IBA: Central Flinders Island". Birdata. Birds Australia. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
- "IBA: Eastern Flinders Island". Birdata. Birds Australia. Retrieved 2011-06-19.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics
- Hema Road Map of Tasmania, Hema Maps, 1990, ISBN 0-670-90403-1
- Wilkins Tourist Maps' online map of the Furneaux Group
- Furneaux Freight website