Flinders Island Trips 1990 - 1995


Waves, Vansittart Is.

We weren't quite as lucky in the double. The sails were pretty well worn out before we started the trip and we didn't have any time to replace them after borrowing the double from Laurie. When we eased out of the sheltered coast the sail ripped and we nearly lost the boom. We quickly took down what was left of the sail and esigned ourselves to paddling across to Vansittart. Mick was having fun of this own way out infront.

Laurie on Vansittart Is.

Laurie as usual was enjoying the spectacle from his vantage point on the island. He couldn't believe his eyes when Mick didn't see the ONE large, partly submerged rock in his path. Inexorably Mick drew closer to the rock and then capsized has his kayak rode over the top on a wave.

Mick after his third capsize

Once again he bailed out and paddled his kayak while sitting on the rear deck until we helped him back in. It wasn't far before we were in the shelter of Bates Bay. This had been an interesting day, particularly for Mick who we think had set some kind of record for capsizes in one day on a trip.

Mick on Vansittart Is.

Once ashore Mick proceeded to entertain us with graphic descriptions of how he had surfed down so many waves and was going so well before his minor accident. We inspected the hull of his kayak but there was no sign of his encounter with the rock.

Oncoming storm, Franklin sound, Flinders Is.

Changing into dry clothes, I walked over to the western shore of the island so that I could se where we had come that day. Dark clouds an rain squalls were punctuated with bright shafts of sunlight over Franklin Sound. Typical Tasmanian weather four seasons in one hour. The wind was so strong it blew the video tape off the recording heads inside the camera and I lost quite bit of good footage. In retrospect I should have left the camera in its waterproof housing.

Stone walls, Bates Bay, Vansittart Is.

On the way back down to the kayaks I detoured to look at signs of early habitation. In the early 1800's there was quite a substantial settlement here. Ex sealers, Tasmanian Aborigines and convicts all made this island home at some stage. The remnants of the Tasmanian Aborigines were brought here but the exposed conditions were unbearable and they were eventually moved to Wybalena on Flinders Island.

Stone chimney, Vansittart Is.

This old stone chimney is all that remains of Alexander and Elizabeth Ross' house. This ex ships captain and salvager of wrecks came to the island in 1876. His wife owned land on the island and he settled down to farm this area. The stone walls were built by Alex, reminiscent of farms in his birth place, Scotland. He died on the island in 1935.

Headstone, Ella Ross, Vansittart Is.

Today it is hard to imagine why people would come to live on such a remote and wind swept island, thousands of miles away from there place of birth. The headstones, stone walls and remains of houses are the only reminders of the lives of these pioneering people. What stories of shipwrecks, bandits and treasures have been lost with the passing of people like Alex Ross.

Sunrise, Vansittart Is.

Early next morning I persuaded Grant to climb the single hill on Vansittart Island, before sunrise. The island is quite devoid of trees, even long after the sheep that Alex Ross kept have gone. A cool wind blew from across the sound as we made our way slowly up the hill. Laurie had made the climb the day before and was enjoying a sleep in.

View from Guncarriage Hill, Vansittart Is.

From the top, looking west, we could see back to the Corner or Lady Barren Island, where we had waited in vain for a Barren burger some days before. We sheltered behind the large stone cairn on top of the hill.

Grant on Guncarriage Hill

Sheltering on the lee side of the summit,we sat and watched the sunrise over the Tasman Sea. Grant pointed out the wreck of the Farsund, stranded on the shallows near Puncheon Point.

The Farsund from Guncarriage Hill

We would try to visit this rusting reminder of the days of sail and clipper ships later that morning. This was provided the seas would remain calm enought to get close. Fierce tides constantly sweep the narrow passage between two islands and negotiating the shallows can be a dangerous affair in rough seas. Last time I was in this area, with Ian Mcdonald, we had only been able to give the boat a cursory glance as we were swept past the wreck by wind and tides.

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