Top 10 islands off Tasmania
Australians like to call their country Down Under. The term denotes its geographic position on maps, and in no sense of being under, or beneath or less than, anyone else. Nor in the sense of being down and depressed, rather than up and dynamic. Do not suggest for a moment to an Australian that they enjoy anything less than the finest, most enviable lifestyle this side of heaven.
Being on an island, even a really big island like Australia, separates you. And insulates you. And protects you. When you are down there, far away, why would anyone go to the trouble of bothering you?
Then there is Tasmania. Tasmania is under Down Under. It is further away. More isolated. There is even less reason to bother anyone in Tasmania. What if you could get further away than that? You can. There are 334 islands off Tasmania, ranging from rocky outcrops to three sizeable, inhabited islands, linked to the outside world by maritime services, air strips and even broadband.
Flinders Island in the Bass Strait, north of the north-east tip of Tasmania, is approximately 70 kilometres long and 40 kilometres wide. It has nearly twice the area, but only half the population, of its significant other, King Island. The two towns on Flinders Island are Whitemark and Lady Barron. One thousand islanders find peace among rolling green pastures, rocky outcrops and abundant bird- and wild-life. There probably are people on Flinders who are there because they don't want to be found, and who can blame them.
King Island sits out in Bass Strait, well north of the north-west tip of Tasmania, exposed to the relentless winds of the Roaring Forties. The 1800 inhabitants of King Island are greenies. I mean this in an admiring way. They are not greenies because it is the new political vogue. They are green because they long ago saw the wisdom of letting nature have its way, and keeping chemical and mechanical interference to a minimum. The happy result is that consumers gladly pay top dollar for whatever they produce, most notably cheese and cream and fine food from the sea.
Bruny is the third of only four significantly-populated islands off the island of Tasmania. It has its northern point in the mouth of the Derwent River, not far from Hobart, and stretches south, about one hundred kilometres, until at its tip it gazes into the expanse of the Southern Ocean. It is approximately 360 square kilometres in area. About 600 people live on Bruny Island. They are artists, retirees, a few farmers, a cheese-maker, and others servicing the summer tourists.
Cape Barren Island
Flinders Island is the largest of about fifty islands in the Furneaux Group, off the north-east corner of the island of Tasmania. The second largest island in the group is Cape Barren, which lies south of Flinders Island. Cape Barren Island is home to approximately 70 members of an Aboriginal community.
Macquarie Island is 1300 kilometres south of Tasmania, out in the wild Southern Ocean. In a good year it has as much as three days of sunshine. The rest of the time it is very cold and very windy. It has to be mentioned here because it is a World Heritage Area and is administered by the Tasmanian government. Every year the island is visited by millions of seabirds and tens of thousands of seals. The Australian Antarctic Division has a station on Macquarie Island and a couple of dozen hardy souls do research there and keep a rotational watch.
Maria Island is a 100 square-kilometre national park and marine reserve, about four kilometres off the east coast of Tasmania. In its earliest years of European settlement it was a base for whaling, and then became a penal facility for some 25 years. Through the second half of the 1800s attempts were made to farm the land but these were eventually abandoned. Maria Island has been a wildlife refuge since 1972. You may not live here, but you will enjoy visiting.
Clarke Island is the third largest of the islands of the Furneaux Group. Like Cape Barren Island, just to the north, it is a traditional Aboriginal homeland and is used by the community as a training ground for a handful of youth.
Robbins Island, just off the north-west corner of Tasmania, is private property. Keith and John Hammond raise wagyu beef here among the birds, the wallabies and the occasional Tasmanian Devil. And lucky devils they all are too.
Hunter Island, the largest in the Hunter Group, off the north-west tip of Tasmania, is another grazing ground for a private herd of cattle. There is a homestead on the island, and it is easy to imagine that the residents appreciate a tranquil life and have plenty to read.
Three Hummock Island
Three Hummock Island, so-called because of its three low hills, is slightly smaller than Hunter Island, five kilometres to the west. The island is almost entirely protected nature reserve but, once again, there is a private home here. In this case the owner, Eleanor Alliston, was able to use the peace and quiet to not only read, but to write.