Remote Flinders Island, a little dot off the coast of Tasmania, is a great place for a weekend of photography. Rugged coastline, deserted beaches, lichened rocks and dramatic mountains make it a photographer’s paradise.
It also boasts some interesting weather. Wild winds (the island sits in the Roaring Forties), showers and sunny spells – chances are the island will throw them all at you in a day. But the ever-changing light creates amazing opportunities.
I used to be a happy snapper but now I mostly rely on my smart phone. With some big trips coming up, I want to improve my photography. I borrow a lightweight and fairly easy-to-use compact mirrorless camera for the weekend and head off in an enthusiastic group to Flinders Island under the guidance of photographer Ric Wallis.
Leaving from Essendon Airport is fun – no long queues through security, just a quick walk across the tarmac to an eight-seater light aircraft.
Flinders Island is about 75 kilometres by 40 kilometres, connected to the world by a few flights and a couple of ferry services from Tasmania. Part of Bass Strait’s Furneaux group, the island has had a troubled history.
It was settled about 40,000 years ago by Aborigines and later abandoned. In the late 18th century it became home to sealers and Aboriginal women kidnapped from the mainland.
An ill-fated attempt to save Tasmanian Aborigines in the 19th century by moving them to Wybalenna on Flinders ended with 150 of the 200 dying. Today about 800 people live on the island, about 16 per cent of them Tasmanian Aborigines.
We land at the airport north of Whitemark, the main town, then head to Mountain Seas Retreat, bordering the beautiful Strzelecki National Park.
Take the weather
The photographer has a tough task ahead as bad weather strikes. The Flinders Island forecast is abysmal – day one rain, day two more rain and day three rain clearing to showers.
Wallis loves the island: “Flinders Island has a whole lot of fantastic landscapes packed into one small area.”
Good composition is essential for a memorable photograph, says Wallis. He uses strong graphic forms to draw viewers into an image – think upside-down triangles, circles, strong diagonals or lazy S shapes. We have a session on how to enhance our photos using software such as Capture One and Photoshop – and no, it’s not cheating, he says.
One of the surprises of the island is the multi-coloured, lichen-covered rocks along the sea shore. Azure waters lapping pristine white beaches, with towering mountains in the background, make for great photos.
We spend a few hours on Trousers Point, setting up our tripods and learning how to best frame our shots.