A new 6-day walk across Tasmania’s windswept Flinders Island is emerging as one of the best multi-day hikes in the country.

Story Anabel Dean  Photo Tasmanian Expeditions  

"It’s the rule of thirds,” Matt Griffiths declares, stooping under branches the colour of bleached bones on the stony flanks of Mt Strzelecki. “It’s an old mountaineering saying that two-thirds of all accidents happen on descent,” he warns, “but I always think that the last third of the mountain takes two-thirds of the effort.”

Comfort has slipped away in an infinite whiteness whipping through trees scrawled tightly around him. The spiny, monolithic peak of Strzelecki –756m above the southern end of Flinders Island – is dipping in and out of clouds as if dancing through 7 veils.

“We’ve entered into our own little weather system,” Matt shouts into the wind, trying to explain this feral Tasmanian beauty that, literally, takes your breath away. “It’s an orographic cloud that forms as moist air from the ocean hits the tops of the Strzelecki National Park and then condenses into mist.”

Matt’s group has only covered 3km in 3 hours and the dizzying view is entirely absent. There is nothing to see at the summit, no spectacle of sandy beaches scalloped by sea, no sign of the broken chain of Furneaux Islands that lie lumpenly along the horizon towards the Tasmanian mainland.

The hikers scramble on all fours onto humpbacked granite boulders and peer from eyeball-aching white-out into a gauzy abyss. “I love it like this,” Matt enthuses, cheeks gleaming wetly. He’s hallucinating and the infection is contagious. “The only way to cope with Flinders Island fever is to soak it all up and accept that it will stick to you for the rest of your life. Nowhere that I know is like this place.”

Weather is the governing force in the turbulent Bass Strait where remote Flinders Island lies. It’s the biggest of 52 Furneaux Islands, and 45 minutes by air from Bridport, on the Tasmanian mainland.

The island’s untapped beauty has long been appreciated by its 1,000 or so inhabitants, but things are likely to change. The 6-day trek that Matt guides for Tasmanian Expeditions has just been added to the Great Walks of Australia collection of best multi-day hikes in Australia. “I’d probably keep it secret if I could,” Matt confesses.

Mt Strzelecki is just one landmark along a string of walking trails covering 42km of easy to moderate hiking from base camp at Tanners Bay. Flinders Island is small, only 1,333sq km, but weather-dependent off-beaten paths range from rugged Mt Killiecrankie in the north (where gravity-defying boulders balance upon each other) to Trousers Point in the south (where orange lichen carpets rocky coastline).

This story excerpt is from Issue #155

Outback Magazine: June/July 2024