Furneaux Museum

The museum is a cluster of seven buildings which are themselves exhibits e.g.. One is 'Dryazell' (on its original site), one time private school and residence of first government subsidised teacher on Flinders Island. Another building is the replica of a Muttonbird processing shed as used 1920-1948. This shed contains original artefacts donated by Frank and Heather Willis whose family have been Muttonbirding for well over 100 years. Muttonbird harvesting is also a part of the culture of the indigenous people of the Furneaux. The museum is operated entirely by volunteer members of the Furneaux Historical Society

Address: 
8 Fowlers Road, Flinders Island, TAS
Tel: 
0363592010
Hours: 
June to August 1-4pm Saturday and Sunday, Sept to May 1-5pm Saturday and Sunday and everyday summer season and Easter. Closed good Friday and Christmas day. Other times by appointment
Admission: 
$2
Facilities: 
Volunteer curators on duty during opening times. Small reference library (not for loan). Guided tours on request. Wheelchair access to two buildings only.
Collection: 
Approx. 2 000 images, 1 200 documents, 1 500 objects.. The collection housed in the Museum is one of National and State significance and consists of a variety of objects, images and documents reflecting the natural and cultural history of the Furneaux group of islands situated in Eastern Bass Strait. Much of the material is maritime in origin, the oldest artefact being the anchor from the 'Sydney Cove' a vessel beached on Preservation Island in 1797. The implications from this event were far reaching and include - 1. The establishment of the second permanent European settlement out of Sydney, at Kent Bay, Cape Barren Island, by sealers in 1798. 2. The establishment of Australia's first export industry, sealskins and oil. 3. The survival of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people because of their interaction, albeit forced, with the sealers. Also to the demise of many brought to the Furneaux Islands by George Augustus Robinson in 1832. 4. The proof of the existence of Bass Strait, thus shortening the route to the new colony. Mathew Flinders on the third rescue voyage to Preservation Island observed tide and currents and suspected the existence of the Strait, later proved by the voyage of the Norfolk with George Bass. It was Flinders who brought news of the seal colonies to Sydney.
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Items

Canned Food

Shearwater can

Shearwater can
Creator:
unknown
Description:
Wrap around paper labelled can, 450g net. Content as follows:- Shearwater. Tasmanian Delicacy. A unique bird from the Bass Strait Islands of Tasmania with a rich distinctive flavour. Product of Australia. On the other side of the label as follows:- Shearwater. A unique bird from the Bass Strait Islands of Tasmania. Only the plumpest most choice birds are selected for your enjoyment and precooked to give a tender succulent meat. You can experience this easy to prepare Tasmanian Delicacy with a rich distinctive flavour.
Date:
1920's
Item Id Number:
FHRA:2000:0:59

Muttonbirds are Shortailed Shearwaters 'Puffinus Tenuirostris'. The Canning Factory began in 1912-1913 at Lady Barron, Flinders Island. The factory changed hands several times. The third owner canned mutton birds and also scaled fish and crayfish. This can of Shearwater may have been canned at that factory.

Scalding Pot

Muttonbird Scalding Pot

Muttonbird Scalding Pot
Creator:
Heather Willis and others
Description:
Granite and mortar hearth and surround for a square section kerosene tin. The tin would normally be filled with water with a fire below. The tins were replaced each Muttonbird season. On top of this scalding pot is a ladle made from a tin can and another tin can containing a brush made from tussock grass.
Date:
1920-1948
Item Id Number:
FHRA:2000:0:59

After plucking the Muttonbird it is passed to the scalding room. The bird is then dipped in the scalding pot and the fine down is removed by rubbing with a hessian bag. The tussock brush is used to remove the fine down floating on the surface of the water in the scalding pot. After 1948, scalding pots were gas fired. When square kerosene tins were no longer available, round ones were used as pots and are still in use to this day. In past years it was the practice for whole families to relocate to the outer Muttonbirding islands for the entire season. The schools on Flinders and Cape Barren Islands would close for the duration of the Muttonbirding season.

Replica Building

Mutton Bird Processing Shed

Mutton Bird Processing Shed
Creator:
Heather Willis, Peter Sherriff and others
Description:
Oiled paling exterior walls, corrugated iron roof. Three rooms:- plucking, scalding, and salting. Authentic artefacts 'furnish' rooms. 'Mutton Birding' is a distinctive way of life. The skills are disappearing.
Date:
1920-1948

Harvesting of Mutton Birds began 1797 (or earlier) and practised by indigenous and non indigenous peoples of the Furneaux. Still practised in 2000. Only practised commercially by Indigenous people in 2000.

Anchor

G.N. Wolff Anchor

G.N. Wolff Anchor
Creator:
Unknown
Description:
Admiralty anchor recovered from wreck June 1985. Double shackle and chair link attached. Contrasting construction to item one.
Date:
1878-1912
Item Id Number:
FHRA: 1999:0:2

Vessel was wrecked on Prime Seal Island, 22 June 1912. The crew was rescued except for the Captain and taken to Melbourne by fishing boat 'Ada Burgess'. Anchor was recovered with help of RAAF using Chinook helicopter.

Anchor

Sydney Cove Anchor

Sydney Cove Anchor
Creator:
Unknown
Description:
Old pattern admiralty anchor from cargo vessel beached 1797. Anchor recovered 1978-80. Forged construction
Date:
1797
Item Id Number:
FHRA: 1999:0:1

Vessel was beached on Preservation Island. The cargo was off loaded to nearby Rum Island. Seventeen members of crew set off for Sydney to obtain help. Reference: Cargo for the Colony by Michael Nash 1996