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Five things to know about Flinders Day on Coochiemudlo

EDIT : THIS POST was originally published in 2018 and contains some event information pertaining to that year's Flinders Day.

Ted Jones - the man who started it all.

Flinders Day is celebrated on the island since 1977 when resident Edward ‘Ted’ Jones found that Matthew Flinders’ sextant readings of 'the Sixth Island', made during his exploration of the bay in 1799, are indeed the coordinates of Coochiemudlo. Ted served in WW2 as RAAF navigator, so the veteran and engineer was able to properly interpret the explorer's notes: They pointed to a landing right on the Eastern shores of our little island!

(Ted Jones and the replica Norfolk, photo: Coochiemudlo Heritage Society )

Ted Jones went on to play Matthew Flinders for over 20 years in the island’s community re-enactments and he was also the first president of the Coochiemudlo Historical Society (now Coochiemudlo Heritage Society). Still fondly remembered today, he passed in 2012, aged 87.

Norfolk Beach In commemoration of Matthew Flinders small survey ship, the beach of the historical landing is now known as Norfolk Beach. Built on the Norfolk Island in 1798 and from Norfolk Island Pine, the sloop was simply called the ‘Norfolk’. Only a handful of men were on board, likely Matthew Flinders' brother Samual and Bungaree, a Kuringgai man from Port Jackson as an Indigenous guide. In 1998-99 Bern Cuthbertson OAM from Sandy Bay, Tasmania, retraced all of Norfolk's journeys in a replica vessel, constructed of Tasmania Huon and Celery Top pines. In 1999, the replica and crew participated in Coochie's re-enactment and celebrations. The replica Norfolk is now on display at The Bass and Flinders Centre in George Town on Tasmania's Tamar River. Coochiemudlo is Quandamooka Country The presence of the Quandamooka People, living for at least 25 000 years on neighbouring Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), has been acknowledged during the Flinders Day festivities with the story telling and dancing of the Yulu Burri Ba Dancers for the first time in 2017. This year again, Josh Walker will explain the traditional stories and songs of the people of the bay.

(photo : nikki cornwall) Although not thought to have had permanent settlements, Coochiemudlo Island has traces of indigenous passage and life in several places, such as scar trees, stone fish traps, stone tools and shell middens now lost to the sea. A historical map by the Heritage Society is available at the kiosk to discover these places on the island and more. A further event with indigenous participation returns to Coochiemudlo with Care4country at the property 'Mudlo'. On August 18th, celebrate Indigenous workshops, talks and dance. This event is free and part of the Quandamooka festival - but registration is required - more here. Trim the cat Matthew Flinders was quite the cat person: While kittens where quite common on boats in his time, but he kept the same cat with him for several journeys around Australia. This cat was called Trim.

(photo: user Camloo, wikipedia, remix)

During the re-enactment on Coochiemudlo, their special relationship is honoured by the presence of a black fluffy cat on the stern of the wooden dinghy that brings Matthew Flinders to shore. Trim accompanied his master on the first circumnavigation of Australia and survived a ship wreck. When Matthew Flinders had to pull in for ship repairs at the 'Isle of France ' (today Mauritius) the Napoleonic Wars had just started, so the English explorer was temporarily emprisoned, and Trim sadly disappeared. Flinders himself thought the cat may have been eaten by a hungry slave. The man who mapped the entire shoreline of Australia, would write an essay to honour his feline compagnon. Trim is also pictured in several statues of Matthew Flinders in Australia and the UK today. Community and Celebration For the little island of Coochiemudlo, the connection with the explorer and cartographer Matthew Flinders is cause for great pride and celebration. Ever since Ted Jones proved the landing occurred on July 19th, 1799, the community comes together to make it a special day on a Sunday close to the date. With the Heritage Society and the Progress Association taking the lead in the organisation of the event, many other participants make the day truly special for the island. Community organisations, such as Bushcare and Coastcare, have stands about their important work for our precious environment. Market stalls from near and far set up to sell bric-a-brac, handmade goods, art and craft, but also food and drink. There will be music and activities on the foreshore. Open to a wide variety of community groups, we have seen Pirates before! This year, the Redlands Lady Drum Corps, the Navy Cadets of the TS Diamantina, Period Dancers 'Kaleidoscope' and Polish Folk Dancers will be adding to the celebration. A shuttle bus will bring you up to the Rec'Club for the last day of the Coochie Art Show ! And watch out for wooden boats and fancy cars ! The weather looks great this year - so join the residents for their big celebrations!

photos : nikki cornwall

Sources: wikipedia, material by the Coochiemudlo Heritage Society, infomation by the organisers and past events.

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