Flinders Island is an unexpected delight. On paper the anchorage looks like yet another rolly stopover where you get little sleep and move on as quickly as you can. In reality it’s calm and welcoming with a long slightly sloping sandspit perfect for landing a dinghy.
Susan from Erie Spirit and I thought we’d organize a Fourth of July potluck and we dinghied boat to boat introducing ourselves and inviting everyone to join us the next day. As we chatted with the various crews we learned there’s extensive aboriginal cave art on adjacent Stanley island and that it was “not to be missed.” Well, say no more!
It was a long soaking dinghy ride across a windswept channel, then a very wet dinghy landing, a hike across the island and a short climb up a hill before we found a jaw-dropping gallery of paintings in several open caves. We were transfixed.
We later found out there are aboriginal paintings at other sites all over these islands and we wish we’d had a guide book or internet access to learn where they are and how to get to them. But we’ll have to content ourselves with this one beautiful experience. It was a gift.
The next day we gathered ashore for food and drink and got to know our anchor neighbors. Several of the boats are part of our group sailing to Indonesia, and some are Aussies just moseying north for the winter. It’s the first cruisers beach party in recent memory and we loved feeling a part of the community of boat people again.
Most of the boats departed for points north the next morning but we opted for one more night in the shelter of Flinders Island. We’d discovered a common interest with the crew of a cruising trawler — a love of rocks — and we wanted to see their collection. Plus we learned there’s 19th century graffiti carved into some boulders along the shoreline that we missed. The carvings are said to have been left by passing ships that stopped along the beach to refill their water barrels.
When Jeff and Julie mentioned they collect rocks I got excited because I can’t help picking up rocks wherever we go. Jack warns I’ll sink the boat if I keep bringing them aboard. What we learned when we visited Northern Lady is that these are not ordinary rocks, but semiprecious stones that they find and Jeff cuts, facets and polishes into jewelry quality gems.
I neglected to photograph the beautifully cut crystals, peridots, topazes, opals and other gems — the real stars of their work — because while those are stunning, my own personal taste leans more toward rocks that reveal the geological forces that created them. I peppered them with questions about where they find the rocks, what they look for, what tools they use (and again I forgot to photograph the machinery) until Jack looked like he was worried I might embark on a new hobby.
We dragged ourselves away and got EV ready for an early morning departure. We’re facing at least three long daysails before some unpleasant weather may require us to seek shelter for a day or two and the calendar won’t stop for us to linger here at Flinders. It’s been a restorative interlude but it’s time to go.