Flinders is a beautiful and historic coastal village overlooking Westernport, just over an hour’s drive south from Melbourne.
It is a delightful tourist destination on the Mornington Peninsula – an area south of the city, which features townships of real character, galleries, beaches, vineyards, good food and dining and so many varied outdoor attractions.
Flinders boasts special features in that snorkelers from around the world visit to view the iconic weedy sea-dragon under the Flinders pier; there are beautiful walks, the iconic Mushroom Reef marine sanctuary with its birdlife and the beaches – a surf beach and natural beaches, cafes, a range of shopping, including antique shops, a chocolate maker, a village store and the 125 year-old Flinders Hotel, with adjoining motel, which has a chef’s hat in recognition of the quality of its dining.
Being a peninsula, one the one side are the surf beaches, while Port Phillip Bay boasts safe swimming and attractive beaches.
The Green Wedge, planning overlays and urban boundaries have ensured wonderful views and have preserved the rural character of the region, which attracts many visitors, campers and weekend holiday-makers.
Flinders is the largely undiscovered jewel on the Mornington peninsula – with the friendly locals hoping it continues to “fly under the radar”.
Nearby Flinders are many leading winemakers (over 50 vineyards are located on the Mornington Peninsula – many with restaurants and wine sales) – a range of quality restaurants, coffee shops and cafes, mazes, a number of world-standard golf courses, art galleries and fruit and vegetable offerings, with farmers markets featuring the productive agricultural community.
A SHORT HISTORY OF FLINDERS VILLAGE
(Courtesy of the Flinders District Historical Society)
The Mornington Peninsula was the home of the Boonwarrung people for perhaps 40,000 years, and areas near Flinders have indigenous cultural significance.
It is likely that the first European contact was with sailors and sealers exploring the Bass Strait coastline late in the 18thcentury. Lieutenant James Tuckey of HMS Calcutta undertook land exploration of the Flinders district, when his party walked from the Collins settlement site at Sorrento in December 1803 searching for water. The settlement was abandoned shortly afterwards.
Flinders is currently celebrated its 150th Birthday in 2014 marking the time a century and a half ago when the first land sales took place here. The Society has placed signs around the township to recall the early history of this quiet community.
Following the establishment of the Port Phillip District in 1835, settlers moved into the Mornington Peninsula. Henry Tuck’s Manton’s Creek pastoral run, leased in 1846, covered much of the Flinders-Shoreham area.
A fishing settlement developed in the 1850s. Supplies had to be brought in by sea because of the poor state of the roads. The first government survey was not completed until 1860, naming the town after Matthew Flinders. Land sales took place from 1864-1866, establishing the shape of the village of Flinders.
Fishing and timber cutting for the railways were important early industries. Fishermen and their families settled in cottages on the beach near the jetty, where the catch was kept alive in floating coops awaiting shipment to market.
Some Chinese immigrants landed in Flinders on their way to the gold diggings, to avoid the 10 pound immigration tax levied in the ports of Melbourne and Geelong. A few stayed in Flinders, developing market gardens along the Kennon Cove foreshore.
Completion of the telegraph cable to Tasmania in 1869 brought boom times to Flinders. Cable station staff comprised a substantial part of the population, and young male staff members became involved in local cricket and football clubs. The historic Flinders golf course was established around 1903. Improved rail and road transport coupled with clean ocean air and a mild climate led to Flinders becoming a popular holiday destination in the early years of the twentieth century. Guesthouses catered for the visitors, with some 360 beds available for visitors by 1913.
While the original guesthouses and tearooms have sadly gone, the air is still clean and pure and Flinders offers alternative places to stay, a variety of attractions, and the pleasures of this coastal settlement (and the Mornington Peninsula generally) drawing many visitors each year.