Flinders Island – what can I do when I’m there?
People often wonder what on earth there is to do on Flinders Island with its small population and few mod. cons. True, we don’t have shopping centres, cinemas, or amusement parks. What we have instead is an abundance of natural, wild, home-grown entertainment. If you’re open to the rugged beauty of the landscape, don’t mind a bit of seclusion, and take time to meet the locals, you’ll be wishing you’d booked yourself a longer trip.
Top tip: chat with the islanders. They’ll let you know about must-visit places and local events. Sometimes we rely too much on the island grapevine and don’t always announce events formally!
If you enjoy bushwalking and spending time with only birds for company then we have some spectacular tracks to explore. Pick up a copy of The Walks of Flinders Island at Bowmans Store in Whitemark. It gives information on the main walk trails of Flinders, but also suggests some intriguing alternative tracks that explore hidden corners of the island.
Kayakers, touring cyclists, and rock climbers love coming here too, but it’s important to bring your own gear as it’s not currently possible to hire any on the island.
Arts & events
Flinders Island has a strong arts community, with diverse talents. The rugged isolation attracts many established artists, and the generous community is great at nurturing and encouraging creativity in emerging makers.
The Strait Works gallery in Whitemark is a community-run space with monthly exhibitions. Located next to Walkers Supermarket, it’s well worth a visit. Exhibition openings are usually the first Friday of the month from 5pm. Pop in for some nibbles and a drink, and chat with the artist and other locals!
Maria La Grue has a studio in Whitemark, and often runs classes for children, especially during Council’s School Holiday Program. She continually experiments with new styles and media, but always captures the essence of the island and her subject.
The Furneaux Museum is a fantastic place to learn about the island’s human and natural history. Hours and exhibitions change with the seasons; check their facebook page or ask a local for the latest news.
For a vibrant and energetic island holiday come over in January. There’s an event on nearly every weekend (the exception to our laid-back lifestyle), and the weather is usually perfect for swimming, BBQing and exploring.
New Year’s Eve is usually celebrated at the Furneaux Tavern, with fireworks at 10pm and a band until late. Start your year island style!
Next up is the Emita Sports, on a Saturday in the first week of January. This iconic island event has been running continuously for over 50 years, and is a perfect family day out. Prepare yourself for three-legged races, the egg toss, and the annual grudge match of Islanders vs. Visitors Tug of War! The day is free to attend, and has children’s and adults’ categories, so no excuses not to get involved! To recharge after a gruelling 1.5km Emita Marathon, purchase some amazing local food and wash it down with a beer from the community-run bar.
Music in the Vines is an annual event hosted by Unavale Vineyard in the middle of January. It’s our own mini music festival at Badger Corner! The line-up usually includes local bands and musos as well as a band or two from Tasmania. This free event is a great opportunity to relax among the vines and chat with the locals. Bring a picnic or buy something delicious from a food stall, and definitely try a local wine or two!
The January schedule is finished off with the Furneaux Islands Festival. This event is a local alternative to an Australia Day BBQ, and was designed to be inclusive and respectful to our indigenous heritage. The weekend program includes an Acoustic Suppe at the Emita Hall (limited tickets!), a Street Market in Whitemark, Verandah Music at the Furneaux Tavern, and the Festival Finale in the grassy grounds of the Flinders Island Aboriginal Association in Lady Barron.
The Other 11 Months
There is always something going on here on Flinders, but thankfully (for the busy locals) the pace eases a little after January.
Flinders Flicks is held in the August of every second year, and features 3-minute films from local, national and international filmmakers. Check out the previous winners for some insight into island life!
The Flinders Island Running Festival is held on the Father’s Day weekend in September. The program includes a pasta night with guest speaker, the 26km Pub2Pub, a 42km Pub2Pub Trail Marathon, and the FIAAI 5km fun run. Previous guest speakers have included Steve Moneghetti, Nova Peris, and Steven Bradbury. The festival is a great opportunity to meet the locals and see our island from a different perspective!
The Flinders Island Show & Cabaret is a big weekend in the middle of October. The Show is held on the Friday, and features all the things you’d expect from a good old-fashioned country show. Pony ribbons, show bags, wool displays, and a band at the bar. The same band usually plays at the Saturday night Cabaret. This huge costume party used to be organised by the local Ambulance volunteers as a way to raise funds. Nowadays it has the same groovin’ vibe but is shared between different community groups. Definitely worth finding out the theme and coming along!
Lions Tour de Flinders is another October event, raising funds for Lions Ride for Sight. A great way to tour the island with the local cyclists! BYO bike essential.
Travel, beds, and other nesting issues
How to get here:
Sharp Airlines runs daily flights from Launceston to Whitemark, and a couple of times a week from Melbourne.
It’s also possible to put your car or camper on the weekly boat from Bridport in Tasmania’s north-east. Check with Furneaux Freight for sailing schedules.
Where to stay:
Visit Flinders Island and Flinders Council (check the Business Directory) can help you choose somewhere with a comfy bed and a great view, whether it’s of sweeping beaches, secluded gardens or gentle farmland. At peak times the accommodation can book out so it’s best to be organised if you’re coming at Christmas or Easter. There is always the option to camp, however; just bring your own gear and find your favourite spot!
How to get around:
Eating & other essentials:
We have the amazing Walkers Supermarket here, with just about any ingredient you could imagine. Be aware that the island revolves around “Boat Day”, which is when the weekly supplies arrive from Tassie. The best day for shopping is Wednesday when everything has been unpacked. The shelves can look a little bare on Mondays but it’s only temporary. If you have a large group with a huge shopping list it’s a good idea to contact them on 03 6359 2010 with an order to make sure you get what you need. It’s also closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, so make sure you’re stocked up with fuel and food.
Flinders Island Condimental turns local ingredients into delicious condiments and beverages. Jon the Juggler puts a local twist on his English childhood sauces (think fresh versions of HP Sauce and Branston Pickle), and bakes the best sourdough you’ll put your teeth into. His signature Hot Sauce is an island pantry staple, with levels of heat from Mild to You’ve Got To Be Insane.
The Lady Barron Store is open all week, so is a great option for petrol, milk, and other supplies on weekends.