Where is Flinders?
Flinders is situated on the Mornington Peninsula in southern Victoria, Australia, about 86 km from Melbourne. However, it is not on popular Port Phillip Bay, but right at the western entrance to Western Port Bay, and this is called West Head. West Head juts out and makes a marvellous shelter, shielding Flinders pier and Yacht Club from the frequently rough waters of Bass Strait.
When we were children, Flinders was known as a township, but today that has been shortened to 'town,' although it has a permanent population of less than nine hundred people. Although it is, for Australia, quite an old settled area, it remains delightfully rural.
Flinders and Bass
On the cliff above the pier, there is a monument to the discovery of Flinders. Both Matthew Flinders and George Bass had been born in Lincolnshire. Flinders became a sailor, while Bass studied medicine and was admitted as a member of the Company of Surgeons in London at the age of 18! Both were adventurous and came on ships to Sydney in its early days.
In 1797 Captain Matthew Flinders, aged about 23, with his friend, George Bass, now a British Surgeon with the Royal Navy and around three years older than Flinders, set out together along with four others to explore the coast of southern Australia. They were in an open whale boat and must have had a rough trip at times, but it was amazing how much they discovered.
At that time, it was thought that Tasmania was joined to the mainland, but the long rolling waves and strong tides intrigued Flinders and he found that Tasmania was an island. He named the sea between Tasmania and Victoria after his friend, Bass. Because of rough weather, they spent a couple of weeks in Western Port.
Wherever Flinders went, he made accurate charts. He eventually became the first man to circumnavigate Australia and his charts were so good that some of them are still used today.
Have you ever visited Flinders?
As the water is sheltered, Flinders Pier has long been an attraction for visitors. We loved to go there as children and watch the enthusiastic fishermen with their rods and lines. Along the wooden pier in those days there were many marks from the black 'ink' squirted out by squid. Although it is winter and the wind was cold, there were still several fishermen trying their luck there.
The wooden pier is quite long, a quarter of a kilometre, and it is still there, but today there is a shorter concrete pier beside it. In summer Flinders is popular for sailing, windsurfing and other water sports.
The Main Suburban Railway Station in Melbourne is also named after the explorer
Down to the Pier
The town is set high above the sea and some of the houses have lovely views across to Phillip Island. There is a road down to the pier. It is fairly narrow and steep and it is best to drive cautiously. However, it is worth going down at this time of the year, as there is quite a bit of parking available and the view is worth it, even if you don't get out of the car. There are also picnic tables and toilet facilities not far from the Yacht Club.
Flinders Golf Club
If, instead of turning to go down to the pier, the signposts are followed, you can come out at the Flinders Golf Club. This is very popular because of the wonderful views and we sometimes see it on TV when there are big competitions.
Flinders Golf Club is situated on West Head so both Western Port Bay and Bass Strait can be seen.
Phillip Island and The Nobbies
In the photograph above we can see Phillip Island, popular with tourists for the viewing station that offers great sightings of the Little Penguins as they come ashore at dusk. When we were children there was no viewing station, but our parents would allow us to sit on the beach and watch if we stayed very still.
To the right of Phillip Island are the large rocks known as The Nobbies. These are the home of numbers of seals and it's fun to watch them too.
Momentarily perched on a post in the foreground is a blue wren. They're rarely still and hop around on the thinnest of legs, the males flashing their lovely colours.
The Cliff Walk
The man in this photo is directing some friends towards the cliff walk, which, presumably they had come down with enthusiasm, but were less keen on the stiff climb back up.
The bird on the post in the foreground is a sweet little fire-tail, although the red is difficult to see in the photograph.
Back at the top of the cliff we were surprised at the number of rabbits. They did not seem very afraid of us, although they kept their distance. In Australia, we have a number of introduced species that we could well do without, although rabbits have been useful food for people at times.
On this visit, our time was limited, so we only passed through the town, but we know that the shops, hotel and gallery are popular with tourists and that the town has an atmosphere all of its own. We must stop for longer next time and renew our acquaintance there.
© 2014 Bronwen Scott-Branagan