Flora & Fauna
About eighteen thousand years ago, the Bass Plain flooded to formBass Strait. Consequently, many plants have adapted differently tosimilar species found elsewhere in Australia. For some plants, theislands are their southern-most location and for some species thenorthern-most.
The types of plants that grow vary with the location, the beach and heath being quite different from the gum forests. To give you some more detail, in our Enchanted Way walk, we walk first through the tall shrubs of Kunzea ambigua, which occurs on Flinders Island more than anywhere else we distill the oil from it and use it for many things, including some of the soaps that are in the rooms. Then through groves of the sheoak (Allocasuarina manilifera) which is a good source of timber, firewood and has edible nuts. The beautiful Blackwood, Acacia meloloxylon, is the longest living of the wattles, and makes a grand appearance with large arms spreading to the sides, very much like the large oaks of Sherwood Forest. It is much prized for furniture and crafts. Then we come to the huge stands of Eucalypts. Amongst the giants are the blue gum, E. globulus, whe white topped stringy bark and the ghost gum, E. viminalis. White clematis climbs through the understorey, flowering in spring and leaving fluffy seeds that resemble feathers in the late summer.
The creek bed, stones and forest floor are alive with mosses, lichens, liverworts and ferns. Amongst the ferns are two different species of "Man Ferns" or "Tree Ferns". The Tasmanian species, Dicksonia, has smooth bark and pointed fronds while the Victorian species, Cyathea, has rough spiky bark and rounded fronds. From the large "Grotto Rock" fall thousands of streaked rock orchid (Dendrodium striolatum, also named Dockrillia striolata), the only rock orchid indigenous to Tasmania, flowering in late spring in cascades over the stream running through the grotto.
Thewildlife pressure here has been studied extensively by the ParksDepartment and found to be 500% to 1600% of anyplace on Tasmania (whichmeans more than anyplace on the mainland as well). You can watchwallabies by the dozen as they come out to feed at dusk. Or shearwatersby the million as they return to their burrows, also at dusk, from aday of feeding far out at sea.
Two hundred species ofbird, ranging from the tiny Superb Wren to the giant WanderingAlbatross, have been recorded as visiting or living on Flinders Island.This includes the endangered Forty-spotted Paradote.
TheCape Barren Goose - regarded as one of the world's rarest goose species- is prolific here. An estimated 12,000 of these birds can be seenflying between the outer islands and the pastures on Flinders Island.
TheShort-tailed Shearwaters, locally known as "mutton-birds," returnseveral million strong from their travel to the northern hemisphere onexactly the same day (September 22). Traditionally, Islanders hunt thenew chicks in April. Today, several of the smaller islands are reservedto protect mutton bird rookeries as well as the nesting sites for CapeBarren Geese and other sea-bird species.
See the whole list of birds, and learn more about Bird Life by clicking here.
Asthere are no rabbits or foxes on the Furneaux Islands, the Islandsprovide an environment unaffected by introduced species common onmainland Australia. Native animals include:
- Echidnas (including the uncommon pale-coloured or 'albino' echidna)
- Wombats (including a subspecies known here as the 'blonde' wombat)
- Bennett's wallabies
- Brush-tailed possums
- Ring-tailed possums
- Pigmy possums
- Various skinks
Other mammals greeting you just offshore include dolphins and whales.