Flinders is located at the western end of a small promontory known as West Head forming the western gateway to Westernport. Named after explorer Captain Matthew Flinders, it was first settled in 1854. Flinders is located around 80 km South of Melbourne CBD, at the Mornington Peninsula.
The aboriginal tribe, Bonurong were the inhabitants of this land before the European arrival. The abundance of Fish and Shell fish of Western port Bay attracted the aboriginals to this area. In 1839. Assistant Protector, William Thomas recorded the aboriginal population in the area as 83 men, women and children but by the 1860’s they were almost gone from this land.
Squatters began moving to Mornington Peninsula after the establishment of Port Phillip District in 1835. Flinders began its life as a fishing settlement. Henry Tuck’s leasing license for a pastoral run was signed by Lieut. Governor, Charles Latrobe in 1846. Mr Tuck at that period had a run of over 6000 acres along the shores of Western Port Bay, this large block being described in the license as land adjacent to Manton’s creek. In its early settlement days supplies were mostly brought in by sea. Land sales began in 1864. Apart from fishing, timber cutting was another prominent industry. The Shire of Flinders and Kangerong was formed in December 1874 from the two road districts of Flinders and Kangerong. In 1914, it was simply termed shire of Flinders. Mornington Peninsula Shire was formed in 1994 with the amalgamation of Flinders, Mornington and Hasting Shires and part of City of Frankston.
Flinders General Store was established in 1866 by Richard and Anne Brent on land sold in first Flinders Township sale that year. But the owners of the store did not enjoy very good reputation as Richard was accused of having sold spirit without a license and Anne was the dread of the district owing to her malicious tongue.
A Bass and Flinders Cairn was erected from Moorooduc stone rubble at Flinders Foreshore in 1912 as a marker for the journey of Mathew Flinders and George Bass commemorating the discovery of Western Port on 4 January 1798, by George Bass and the later passage of Bass Strait by Bass and Flinders in 1802. The Flinders War Memorial was erected in 1922.
Mornington Peninsula is home to some of the earliest Golf Courses in Victoria. It is believed, Flinders Golf Club is the oldest Golf Club in Victoria to exist in its original site. Golf Course was one of the main attractions of holiday makers to Flinders in the 1920’s. The Mechanical Institute was built in the late 1880’s.
A few Chinese immigrants had landed initially at Sandy Point on their way to the Gold diggings to avoid the Poll tax levied in Melbourne and Geelong. Some stayed in Flinders as fishermen.
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.
Here was the mainland terminal of the submarine Cable connecting Victoria and Tasmania was laid in 1889. It was here, the Cable telegraph connecting Victoria and Tasmania passed into the sea. Stretching over 320km, between Low Head at the mouth of Tamar River, Tasmania and the mainland terminal at Flinders. This installation completed the connection of Tasmania to the mainland telegraph network and via Darwin with the rest of the world. The submarine part of the telegraph was owned by the Eastern Extension Cable Company. Cable station staff comprised a substantial part of the population, and young male staff members became involved in local cricket and football clubs.
Messages were originally received in Morse Code in the receiving hut on the beach, carried by hand to Happy Valley, a building half way up the valley, where they were decoded, then again taken by hand to the office at the top of the cliff to be transmitted over the land network. William Segrave, the first manager of the Cable Station, was appointed the Postmaster in 1881. He continued to live in the Clifftop building until 1912, which was later used as a Boarding House, music school and restaurant until it was demolished in 1961. The company constructed a new telegraph Office and Staff House on the corner of Cove Lane and Wood street in 1891, where Morse signals were received directly via underground cable bypassing the other three buildings. ( Courtesy: Flinders Historical Society)
Flinders Pier Precinct
European Pastoral settlement of Flinders was accompanied by temporary occupation of the seashore as the abundance of Barracoota, Cray fish and flathead attracted fishermen from Port Phillip Bay who moved with season following fish. From time to time Chinese migrants landed illegally in Western Port during the 19th Century. A handful settled in Flinders establishing market gardens on the foreshore towards West Head.
For the movement of heavy cargo in early years, sea transport was the only option and the Flinders Jetty was built in 1864 -65 for that purpose. Additions and extensions were made to the Jetty in the next 20 years, continuing to the present. The cargo shed was built in 1871 and was originally situated at the shore end of the jetty. The technique of curving corrugated iron for water tanks were developed in Australia and was adopted for curved roofs to simplify construction in isolated areas. The curved roof of the cargo shed is one of the intact surviving examples. The cargo shed is listed in Victorian heritage Register.
Things to see:
Flinders Foreshore includes Flinders Pier, Cargo Shed, Boat Ramp and Cable Station Site and walking track. The presence of seagrass beds and Weedy sea dragons adds to its marine value. This area is mainly used by public for walking, sightseeing, fishing (both recreational and commercial), swimming, diving, boat launching, hang gliding and picnicking.
The Anglican Church of St John the Evangelist
Located at 29 King St, the Church of St John-the-Evangelist, Flinders was dedicated on 28 January 1892. Designed by architect William Barker the church was constructed in brick in the Gothic style. The church was renovated, and major additions were made in 1935.
Established more than hundred years ago, Flinders Golf Club is one of the most scenic Golf Clubs in Mornington Peninsula.
Detailed info about the Gold Course can be found here: https://www.flindersgolfclub.com.au/cms/
The Blowhole Walk
Blowhole walk is another tourist favourite, though there is not much about the blowhole, the scenery is spectacular around. The walk leads to huge bluestone boulders to the ocean and the best time is during the low tide when the rock platforms are accessible.
The Dromana Visitor Information Centre is located on Point Nepean Rd at Dromana, tel: (03) 5987 3078 or (1800) 804 009.