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Flinders Island is an island in Bass Straitmarker. It is from Cape Portlandmarker, the north-eastern tip of Tasmaniamarker, Australia and is the largest island in the Furneaux Groupmarker.


The Furneaux Group was first discovered by Europeans in 1773 when it was sighted by Tobias Furneaux, a support ship commander of Captain Cook's party. In 1798-99 British explorers Matthew Flinders and George Bass completed the first ever circumnavigation of Tasmania, proving it to be an island separate from the Australian mainland. Bass Straitmarker was named in honour of George Bass, whereas the main island in the Furneaux Group was named after Flinders.

In the late 1700s, the island was settled by sealers and their mostly Aboriginal wives, but 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.

In 1833, 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 the relocation scheme was short-lived and doomed to fail. In 1847 the remaining 47 Aboriginals were again relocated, this time to Oyster Cove Station, an ex-convict settlement 56 kilometres south of Tasmania's capital, Hobartmarker.

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 Walesmarker 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 approximately 62 km from north to south, and 37 km from east to west. The island's total land area is 1333 km². With a height of 756 m, Mount Strzelecki in the south west is the island's highest peak. 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 Parkmarker.


The population in 2005 was 897 people; the median age being 45.

Settlements include Whitemarkmarker (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).


Airlines of Tasmania runs a daily service from Launceston, Tasmaniamarker (40 minutes) and a three-weekly flight from Melbourne-Essendonmarker (90 minutes). Both services terminate at Flinders Island Airportmarker about 3 km north of Whitemark.

A ferry service is operated to the island by Southern Shipping Co from Bridport, Tasmaniamarker and also from Port Welshpool, Victoria.


Average Annual Temperature: 10 to 18 °C (50 to 64 °F)
Average January Temperature: 13 to 22 °C (60 to 71 °F)
Average July Temperature: 6 to 13 °C (43 to 56 °F)
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
Annual Rainfall: 754 mm (29.7 inches)
Average Annual Windspeed: 21–25 km/h (13–15 mi/h)


  1. 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)
  2. Focus on Flinders website
  3. Google Earth measurements
  4. Focus on Flinders website
  5. Focus on Flinders fauna page
  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics
  7. Hema Road Map of Tasmania, Hema Maps, 1990, ISBN 0 670 90403 1
  8. Wilkins Tourist Maps' online map of the Furneaux Group
  9. Focus on Flinders Airlines of Tasmania page
  10. Southern Shipping website
  11. Whitemark climate averages

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