Flinders is a beautiful and historic coastal village overlooking Western Port and Bass Strait on the Mornington Peninsula, just over an hour’s drive south from Melbourne. Attractions include good food, spectacular landscapes. galleries, serene bush walks, the iconic Mushroom Reef marine sanctuary, beaches and vineyards.
The Mornington Peninsula was the home of the Bunurong 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.
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 pleasures of this coastal settlement (and the Mornington Peninsula generally) draws many visitors each year.
Attractions abound and the FCA is famous for good food, wonderful local walks, wine, local galleries, shops and the acclaimed Flinders golf course overlooking Western Port.