A high vantage point is a great way to get your bearings when exploring a new place; some outstanding examples being Kings Park in Perth and Mt Wellington in Hobart. Far less well known and visited is Walker's lookout on Flinders Island. For visitors wanting a scenic overview, this humble hill provides views to rival many better known lookouts.
I arrived on Flinders Island in fine and clear weather, so visiting the lookout seemed the obvious thing to do ... in case the good visibility didn't last. While the weather there isn't as bad as many imagine, it can be wise to grab such opportunities while they present themselves.
From where I was based, near the island's main settlement of Whitemark, it was only a ten minute drive to what I had been told was a fantastic panoramic view of virtually the whole of Flinders Island.
After a few kilometres of quiet bitumen road, a turn-off led up a gravel road heading upwards through bushland. In places it was one of those narrow roads which beg the question - what happens if something comes the other way? Especially near the top where a steep drop on one side and a steep hillside on the other left no room to pull over and let someone pass. Fortunately the scarcity of traffic on Flinders Island made meeting another vehicle very unlikely, and the view outweighed any trepidation.
At the end of the road I found a small cleared area for parking, a phone tower and Telstra hut, and a short walk to the top of the hill. That was it. In typical Flinders island low-key style, Walker's lookout is simply the cleared top of a hill. No facilities or fancy viewing platforms; just a view to look at.
But what a view! At just over 400 metres above sea level, the view is expansive, and in clear weather you really can see nearly all of Flinders Island. It provides a good feel for just how large the island is, and is perfect for getting your bearings.
I’ve read that on clear days it's possible to see all the way to Tasmania. I couldn't quite see the "mainland" when I was there, but the view can easily extend that far. Another time when I was on the north east coast of Tasmania, Flinders and other islands were plainly visible on the horizon.
The most captivating view is to the south and southwest, across the rocky knobs of the Darling Range towards the Strzelecki peaks and the coast around Whitemark. Late afternoon is especially scenic as the sun sinks lower and bathes the whole area in a luscious warm glow.
Views in other directions can also reveal pleasant scenes, though this can vary with weather and the clarity (or otherwise) of the air. The inlets on the island's east coast can usually be seen, plus some of the small islands nearby.
Clouds need not deter a visit to Walker's Lookout, unless of course it is persistent thick overcast. During my lengthy hilltop lingering the cloud cover varied greatly, with dull light giving way to sunny patches as the weather zipped past. As is often the case with landscapes, a bit of cloud can add interest and mood to a scene.
Walker's Lookout could be a great sunset-viewing spot in the right conditions. In my case, a solid block of cloud rushed in from the west as the sun dipped low, but for an island in Bass Strait in the winter I couldn't complain.
Whatever the time of day or the weather - as long as visibility isn't too bad - I can heartily recommend that anyone visiting Flinders Island make time for loitering at Walker's Lookout. It's not only a great introduction to the island, but in my opinion one of Australia's great lookouts.