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Flinders Island/Australia

Introducing Flinders Island

Flush with natural wonderments, Flinders Island is the largest of the Furneaux Group’s 52 islands. First charted in 1798 by British sea-salt Matthew Flinders, the Furneaux Group became a base for the Straitsmen, who slaughtered seals in their tens of thousands. Like King Island, Flinders is strewn with shipwrecks, 68 vessels having come to grief here.

The most tragic part of Flinders Island’s history, however, was its role in the near-annihilation of Tasmania’s Aboriginal people between 1829 and 1834. Of the 135 survivors who were forcibly removed from the Tasmanian mainland to Wybalenna (meaning ‘Black Man’s House’) to be ‘civilised and educated’, only 47 heartbroken survivors made the journey back to Oyster Cove near Hobart in 1847.

The main industries here are farming, fishing and seasonal mutton-birding, caught by sticking a gloved, snake-proof hand down bird burrows. The island runs rampant with wildlife, especially birds, the most famous of which is the Cape Barren Goose (honk-honk).

Whitemark, the main town, is on the west coast. Lady Barron in the south is the main fishing area and deep-water port. Plan your visit with help from the Flinders Island Area Marketing & Development Office (1800 994 477, 6359 2380; www.flindersislandonline.com.au). On the island the Flinders Island Tourist Information Centre (6359 2160; 6 Patrick St, Whitemark; 10am-4pm Mon-Fri) provides local low-down. Another useful website is www.focusonflinders.com.au. There are no ATMs on the island, but there’s a Westpac Bank agency and most businesses have Eftpos facilities.

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