Strzelecki National Park

Strzelecki National Park covers 4216 hectares in the south-western corner of Flinders Island. Flinders is the main island in the Furneaux Group, a group of 54 islands in Bass Strait off the north-east coast of mainland Tasmania.

 

The national park protects rich and varied ecosystems as well as spectacular coastal and granite mountain landscapes. Strzelecki forms an area where plant and animal species found on mainland Australia and Tasmania overlap, making the park of important biogeographic significance. The park is also home to a high number of endemic species, rare flora and fauna and significant vegetation communities.

 

The park was proclaimed in 1967 and given the official name of Strzelecki National Park in 1972, in honour of the Polish scientist and explorer Count Paul Edmund Strzelecki, who climbed a number of the mountain peaks on Flinders Island in 1842.

 

Access

 

Flinders Island can be reached by either plane or by sea. Airlines of Tasmania (ph. (03) 6359 2312 or fax (03) 6359 2087 or email flinders@airtasmania.com.au) offer flights to Whitemark (the island's main settlement) from Launceston and Moorabbin in Victoria.

 

There is no public transport on the island. Vehicles and bicycles are available for rent at Whitemark.

 

From Whitemark, take the B85 southest to the C806 turnoff, which leads to the park. From Lady Barron, take the B85 northwest to the C806 turnoff. After 6km along the C806, you will come to a sign and a stile on the left which marks the start of the walking track to Strzelecki Peaks. A further 2.5km will bring you to the turnoff to Trousers Point.

 

The coastal waters adjacent to the park are a popular boating destination because of the beauty of the area and the sheltered waters. There are boat ramps in relatively close proximity to the park at Whitemark, Lady Barron and Badger Corner.

 

If travelling in the area by car at night please drive carefully as wildlife often crosses the road.

 

Facilities

 

On Flinders Island itself, there are commercial facilities including hotel accommodation, shops, petrol and post office in Whitemark and Lady Barron. There is also a shop a Killiekrankie.

 

Within the national park there is a designated camping ground at the southern end of Trousers Point. Basic visitor facilities include a dry composting toilet, rainwater tank, fireplace areas, picnic tables, open areas for tents, information board and rubbish bins. To minimise environmental degradation, visitors are reminded not to cut trees for firewood. By preference, fuel stoves should be carried and used. There is a sheltered, free barbeque at the picnic area at Trousers Point.

 

Fotheringate Bay is a popular traditional recreation area for the local community. The facilities here consist of a gravel road and car park and a short walking track leading to a small picnic area. The area provides an alternative recreation site to Trousers Point on windy days.

 

Activities

 

Strzelecki National Park provides a wealth of opportunities for visitors. The beautiful rocky headlands and beaches at Trousers Point and Fotheringate Bay provide opportunities for camping, picnicing, swimming, fishing, snorkeling and diving. This area is an ideal safe environment for children, and is perfect for recreational activities suitable for families and less active people. For those who want the challenge of a climb to the top of Strzelecki Peaks, the main walking track will lead you to a tremendous view of the southern end of Flinders Island and surrounding islands.

 

Day Walks
Important! Before planning any walks, check the weather. Flinders Island has a cool maritime climate and strong westerly winds can blow for days on end. The highest rainfall occurs from late spring to mid-winter. Rainfall can vary from 1494 mm in the mountains to 468mm at Trousers Point on the coast. The mean summer temperature on Flinders Island is 21.2 C which occurs between January and March.

 

Strzelecki Peaks Walking Track

 

Strzelecki National Park covers an area of relatively high relief with steep slopes rising from sea level to over 700 metres in height. The main ridge in the park extends from Strzelecki Peak in the north, southward to Lovett's Hill. At a height of 756 metres, Strzelecki Peak is the highest mountain on Flinders Island.

 

There is a well-marked 3 kilometre walking track to the summit of the Strzelecki Peaks. The track starts at Trousers Point Road, about 6km from the B85. This is not an easy walk and wet weather gear and drinking water must be carried. The climb, through wooded slopes and damp fern gullies, takes about 4 to 5 hours return. Regardless of the weather carry a rain coat and warm jumper; it could well be cold and windy at higher levels. Be aware that the weather may close in while at the summit, which may lead to disorientation.

 

Beach Walks
A short marked walking track starts at Trousers Point camping ground and passes through casuarina woodland and coastal heath before exiting on the coast. North of this is another track which accesses Fotheringate Bay. Walkers can then use the formed road to return to the camping ground or return back along the coast.

 

An extended coastal walk can be undertaken along the southern coast of Flinders Island, much of it through the park, along coastal reserve or unallocated Crown land to the east of the park. To walk this coastline in its entirety is likely to involve an overnight stop.

 

Birdwatching
Strzelecki National Park provides excellent opportunities for bird watchers. Don't forget your binoculars! There are about 114 recorded species. A booklet, The Birds of Flinders Island, is available from the local museum at Emita.

 

Sea Kayaking
Experienced sea kayakers can explore untrodden beaches, inlets and the off-shore islands. Be aware that the waters of Bass Strait have a well-earned reputation for being treacherous.

 

Rockclimbing
Rockclimbing occassionally occurs in the park. There are numerous opportunities for short climbs and one cliff of around 230 metres.

 

Highlights

 

Strzelecki National Park is of great interest due to the high number of endemic species (species found nowhere else), rare flora and fauna and significant vegetation communities found within its boundaries. It is of biogeographic significance as it contains elements of Tasmanian and Victorian flora. The park and adjacent Crown land forms the most extensive area of undeveloped vegetation in north-eastern Tasmania. It also includes several rare and threatened or locally endemic species. There are also a number of interesting geological features including coastal calcarenite formations that support unique vegetation communties and petrified features.

 

Geodiversity
Spectacular Devonian granite dominates the park, forming part of a much larger series of granite bodies extending from north-eastern Tasmania to Wilsons Promontory in Victoria. These granite massifs formed during a major continental collision in eastern Australia, approximately 370 million years ago.

 

The rocky granite headland of Trousers Point is overlaid with Quaternary sands forming coastal beaches, dunes, ridges and flats on deep calcareous pale sandy soils. Granite boulders protrude through the shallow sandy soil and along the coastline.

 

There are also other areas with significant geoheritage values within the park, including coastal karst landforms at Fotheringate Bay and broad shore platforms (up to fifty metres) with solution pans, sea stacks, caves formed by emerging groundwater, marine erosion and alveolar weathering of cliffs.

 

Vegetation
As is true of much of Tasmania's vegetation communities, the pattern of vegetation in the park is strongly influenced by rainfall and fire history. The recent fire history of the park has been characterised by infrequent but high-intensity fire events. Species diversity is high, due to the extreme climate range and the diversity of habitat niches available in the park. Flinders Island is the northern and southern limit of the ranges for a number of species. There are also interesting rainforest and wet forest elements which share affinities with flora in western Tasmania, and with the drier south Australian floras.

 

The base of the mountains and much of the perimeter of the park is dominated by dense tea trees, (Leptospermum spp.), sheoaks (Allocasuarina spp.), and Acacia spp. Open forests of Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus), often with an understorey of Oyster Bay pine (Callitris rhomboidea) occur on the western and northern slopes. White gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) and Smithton peppermint (Eucalyptus nitida) occur on the lower and middle slopes.

 

Sassafras-musk rainforest also occurs in steep sheltered gullies protected from fire. Trousers Point includes coastal woodlands dominated by mature coastal sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata and A.littoralis).

 

The park contains thirteen plant species classified as rare or threatened, including a number of ground orchid species which are at risk due to the presence of feral pigs, which can destroy entire populations of orchids through feeding activity.

 

Fauna
Encounters with wombats, Bennetts wallaby and the Tasmanian pademelon are a common occurrence in the park. Other mammals of particular interest include the long-nosed potoroo, which favours areas of dense cover.

 

The bird life in the park is rich and diverse, with about 114 recorded species. Indeed, Flinders Island has particular significance as an important stop-over point for bird species migrating between the Australian mainland and Tasmania. Therefore the conservation of large areas of diverse habitat is essential.

 

A number of rare and threatened species occur in the park, including the swift parrot, forty-spotted pardalote, grey-tailed tattler, and the hooded plover, which is listed as vulnerable nationally, and requires monitoring in Tasmania.

 

Nine of the nineteen species of reptile known to occur in Tasmania have been recorded in the park, including two species of snake, the tiger snake and white-lipped whipsnake. The copperhead snake is also expected to be found in suitable habitat within the park. The mountain dragon and six species of skink occur in the park. Six of the eleven frog species occurring in Tasmania have been recorded in the park, including the vulnerable green and golden frog.

 

Aboriginal Heritage
Aboriginal people migrated into Tasmania across the now drowned Bassian Plain that connected Tasmania to mainland Australia. Around 9000 years ago the last land connection between Flinders Island and the Tasmanian mainland was severed by sea level rise. Aboriginal people continued to inhabit the region for a further 5000 years or so.

 

A number of Aboriginal sites have been recorded in the park. The majority of sites are in the form of shell middens, stone artefact scatters and cave deposits. There may also be contemporary artefact scatters located in the park associated with the Aboriginal people who were relocated to Wybalenna on the west coast of Flinders Island.

 

Historic Heritage
The first Europeans to sight the Bass Strait Islands were on board the vessel HMS Adventure, under the command of Captain Tobias Furneaux in 1773. The island group was later named in honour of Captain Furneaux. In 1797, the Sydney Cove, enroute from Calcutta to Sydney and carrying a cargo of rum, was wrecked near Cape Barren Island.

 

Matthew Flinders explored the coastlines of what are now Clarke and Cape Barren Islands and found the reefs and rocky shores teeming with seals. This heralded an era of exploitation which, within a decade, led to the near extinction of the seal population.

 

The land along Trousers Point Road between the main part of the park and the coast was not taken up for farming until after 1914. There was a dairy at the Big River property on the south-eastern edge of the park during the 1950s.

 

Strzelecki National Park
Park Office
PO Box 47
Whitemark TAS 7255
Phone:03 6359 2217
Fax:(03) 6359 2210

 

Information for this National Park has been supplied courtesy of Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania

 

 

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