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.
If you enjoy bushwalking 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 tracks in unexpected places.
Mt Strzelecki is the island’s highest peak at 756m. The track can be intense at times, but even after the first 20 minutes it offers amazing views across Trousers Point, so don’t feel you need to push on to the summit if your fitness isn’t currently up for the whole walk.
For a more gentle amble along our coastlines try the Trousers Point walk or the Castle Rock track. Trousers Point can be walked in a loop if you use the Fotheringate Bay road, and offers mainly level walking with some gentle rock scrambling. The Castle Rock track is a there-and-back-again trail, and includes a lot of beach walking (top tip: time your walk to avoid high tide). Both 5km walks can be completed in 1-2 hours.
If you’re a hard-core mountain biker bring your gear and start exploring! There aren’t any official MTB tracks here yet, but there’s loads of potential.
A gentler mountain bike option is Mountain Biking Flinders Island, offering guided tours around several iconic island landmarks. Starting in late 2018,these tours will be led by two local women, and will include gourmet locally-made lunches.
If you’d like to get out on the water Flinders Island Dive can fill your tanks or take you down to the deeps.
Kayakers, fisherfolk 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 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!
The Furneaux Museum beautifully showcases the human and natural history of the region. It’s entirely run by volunteers, and hours change depending on the season.
Maria La Grue is a local artist who continually explores new styles and media. Her paintings and linoprints are always in hot demand!
Sandro Donati works with silver, gold, and Killiecrankie Diamonds to create stunning original pieces with a strong sense of the island.
For a vibrant and energetic island holiday come over in January. There’s an event on nearly every weekend, and the weather is usually perfect for swimming, BBQing and exploring.
➡ update for Jan 2019: Emita Sports and Music in the Vines won’t be happening, for various complex reasons. Hopefully they’ll be back in 2020!
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 Flinders 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 Supper 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 locals) the pace eases a little after January. Here are the main calendar items, but lots of smaller events occur throughout the year. To find out what’s happening during your stay ask your accommodation provider or any local!
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. Think pony ribbons, show bags, knitting displays, plates of scones, and pet lambs in pens. The Cabaret is an informal shindig based on a new theme each year. There’s a live band, lots of locals in costume, and some wild dance moves. In 2018 the Show is on Friday 19th Oct, and Cabaret is Saturday 20th with the theme “Disney”. Bring something outrageous to wear and your biggest dance moves, and you’ll fit right in!
I need to eat!
For general supplies & fuel head to the awesome Walkers Supermarket (across the road from the Interstate Hotel in Whitemark). They’re open 9 – 5:30 weekdays, and 9 – 12 Saturdays. The Lady Barron Store is open for food, fuel & coffee 8 – 5 weekdays, 9 – 3 weekends.
Icecreams, newspapers & everything else are available in Bowmans in Whitemark, 9 – 5 weekdays, 9 – 12 Saturdays.
The Bakery Cafe is in the same building as the Swamphen, across the road from where the baking happens. Sit down for brunch, grab a takeaway burger, choose an icecream flavour for your cone.
For the most entertaining food experience I really recommend Condimental for sourdough, pizza, handmade quiche, dips, mustards, vinegars… Jon & Alison make everything in store & are two of the friendliest people I’ve ever met 🙂 (*disclaimer: we’ve been best mates with them since 2007 😉
Other useful links
Visit Flinders Island has links for accommodation and hire providers.
Flinders Council has useful info for visitors, and those wishing to move here!
Sharp Airlines flies here every day from Launceston, and several times a week from Essendon.