Nothing will prepare you for the spiritual beauty and feel of Flinders Island. The island is, in fact, the largest in the Furneaux Group of 52 islands – mountain summits lying in the Bass Strait just off the northeastern coast of Tasmania – which presents a whole new island-hopping opportunity in its own right. Flinders Island (named after British navigator Matthew Flinders) is best accessed by air, on a 19-seat Embraer from Launceston (or via Melbourne making it an easy and obvious inclusion on a Victoria-Tasmania itinerary).
Flinders Island is probably the size that most uninitiated Brits and Europeans imagine Tasmania to be – just over 40 miles by 25 miles. To say it is picture-post-card-perfect does it a disservice. It has over 80 secluded beaches of pure white sand lapped by turquoise waters and lined with orange-stained granite rocks, perfect for swimming, snorkelling and picnicking. The local rule dictates that if you arrive at a beach and there is someone already there, you simply move on to the next – although locals are so friendly that visitors are just as likely to be invited to join their BBQ.
Flinders Island's history will transfix you, from early explorers, whalers and sealing to the heart-rending story of Tasmania's Aboriginal population - indeed, neighbouring Cape Barren Island has a strong Aboriginal community.
The Strzelecki National Park is in the South West of the island, a walker’s paradise, with Mount Strzelecki rising to a height of 750 metres. The island’s biodiversity is reflected in its plant life with over 800 species, and the entire island is liberally carpeted with marsupials, easily spotted at close range throughout the day. Local ‘wombat lady’ Kate Mooney is virtually a national treasure for her wombat-rescue service and she is happy to share her bundles of deliciousness with visitors in return for a small donation to their food and upkeep.
Flinders is also a significant birding destination, with one particular spot earmarked for especially important, having three breeding colonies of the endangered Forty-spotted Pardalote, and a habitat used by Flame robins. Other endemics found here include the Green Rosella, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, Black-headed Honeyeater, Strong-billed honeyeater, Tasmanian Thornbill, Black Currawong and Dusky Robin.
Accommodation is fairly simple but surprisingly plentiful and stylish, and extremely good value. Food is delicious and there is even a vineyard producing a bottle of very fine wine.
A lovely farm stay/B&B will give you a wonderful insight into island life, including the must-try muttonbird, a Flinders staple and there are a number of well-kept beach houses and cottages.
There are two small, pretty settlements, Whitemark and Lady Barron, which provide visitors with access to a couple of cafes and well-supplied supermarkets.
Activities are endless and professionally run. They include bushwalking, camping, birding, boating, island hopping, fishing and even panning for the famous Kilikrankie diamond.
Self-drive is easy, but those wanting to get under the skin of the island can take advantage of excellent local guiding and transport. Given the sheer natural beauty of the island, one could spend weeks exploring, beachcombing and drinking in the ever-changing vistas across the group of islands, and never, ever tire of it.