Swapping keel for wheels – Monday 25th February

Position: Partridge Farm, Badgers Corner, Flinders Island

Today we left Ariadne’s Clew tied to a mooring in Lady Barron harbour and arranged a hire-car from the cabin park. Mike delivered the car to us at the Tavern and drove us to Whitemark to drop himself back home. On the way we filled him in on our predicament and he gave us a few suggestions of things to do on a day with wheels instead of sails. Our first stop was the main street of Whitemark and a café for brunch. The only one open was doing a roaring trade and we sat in the dining room eating delicious food and making arrangements. Derek on the phone for work while I phoned around the island looking for a night’s accommodation.

I rustled up a room at Partridge Farm, in Badgers Corner back towards Lady Barron. The owner, Lorraine, asked for a bit of time to make up the room so I wandered the town while Derek kept working. The Taste of Flinders Island gourmet café that I had hoped to visit was closed as they are moving into premises at the new pier which is still under construction. We had discounted visiting here by boat as the jetty is only accessible at high tide, while the bay is wide and unprotected and the only other option is to anchor well out and ride in by dinghy – so it was good to be here on wheels! The other must-do in Whitemark is Bowman’s Store, established almost 100 years ago, and still going strong. Here you can find most things including clothing, books (my trap – but I only bought one for my grandson), haberdashery, kitchen utensils etc. They also have a history room, set up as it was in the 1920s. I had a good chat to the friendly owner who recommended the pub for dinner.

Andrew in Hobart let us know he’d sourced a replacement motor and was arranging to have it shipped to us, hopefully on the afternoon’s flight from Launceston. Pretty impressive! We dropped our gear at the farm and began some sightseeing. Walker’s Lookout is roughly in the middle of the island – definitely somewhere we couldn’t get to by boat – so we drove up the rutted gravel road for spectacular 360° views and ate our picnic lunch under a bright blue sky (well, it was actually a bit windy, so we ate in the car!). It would have been a perfect sailing day…


Then we drove north past the airport and stopped at Blue Rocks, an unmarked gem we found mentioned in Walks of Flinders Island. So secret that Mike at the cabin park hadn’t heard of it! Apparently so named by Flinders as he sailed past – they are blue, and must have been twinkling in a burst of sunshine at the time as they’re not huge.

I had a paddle and quick walk, but when a call to Sharp Airlines confirmed the freight had made it onto the flight due at Whitemark around 4.30 we pushed on to see some more sights before we had to return to the airport.

At Emita is the fantastic Furneaux Museum where we browsed a photography exhibition, then the permanent exhibits housed in a collection of buildings: police cells; a telephone exchange; a Nissen hut full of shipwreck relics and industrial machinery including from the once famous Flinders Butter Factory;  an old mutton-birding hut displaying the processing steps; and the original house with amazing collections of shells, eggs, minerals, photographs, ships’ collectibles and much more. We also had time to visit Wybalenna, the site where around 200 Tasmanian aboriginals, from 9 different nation groups and languages, were gathered and exiled after the Black War in the early 1830s. The settlement operated for 17 years under various forms of management and mismanagement, with a terrible toll on the people from disease. On the way here I’ve been reading Me Write Myself by Leonie Stevens, an in-depth study of the writings by aboriginals at Wybalenna. It reveals a proudly independent people who always insisted they were free and did their utmost to document their pleas (even petitioning the Queen) whilst tenaciously trying to retain their cultural practices under the oppressive colonising forces.

We arrived at the airport as they were unloading, and happily paid the $20 freight cost for flying our precious parcel across Banks Strait. I was itching for a swim and with a few hours of this beautiful warm afternoon still lingering we drove back to Blue Rocks where I braced the cool Bass Strait waters for a wallow. I had a swim for my Mum, who at 88 regularly swims in a pool and yearns for the sea!

We grabbed an early dinner at the Flinders Interstate Hotel – scallops and flathead, yum. The Lounge Bar was booked out, so we ate in the quaintly decorated Dining Room, where I sat next to a circular saw draped with a lace tablecloth (ongoing renovations perhaps?). We made it back to Partridge Farm without hitting any wildlife. I was on spotting duty. We did stop at the side of the road to admire the wedge-tailed eagle sculpture cut into an old tree-stump.

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