Vansittart Island 

Island Shed_Artboard 7 - Vansittart-

IMG_0064 Heading out past Vansittart (left) in the hope you come home with a lot of these.Showing off

George Thomas Robinson,  known as ‘Uncle George’ (youngest son of Tuck and Lizzy) married Gladys Cook or  ‘Aunt Gladys’ and she grew up on Vansittart. Aunt Glad did several interviews about her childhood. Mary Gillham author of ‘Island Hopping in Tasmania’s roaring 40’s’ is one that comes to mind. The other I will add later.

Old Island names associated with Vansittart – Riddle, Ross, Cook and Holloway.

Vansittart shoals the final resting place of the Farsund – 1912.

The early 1870’s a few drama’s.

The Cemetery  –

We grew up hearing the ghostly story of Granny Bates………..

Holloway’s barge the primary source of transport to the islands – no longer in service.

Puncheon Head Island  is next to Vansittart, about 15 years ago at a community BBQ I met the old guy who live on Puncheon Island, a fascinating person who entertained us with his stories of life on Puncheon Island – over a few bottles of his best red. 

Ella Jane West married Alexander Ross on Cape Barren Is 8 July 1908. The small child highly likely Ella’s first child Isabel Elizabeth Jane Ross given she has referenced date of marriage. After returning the photo to one of Ellas relatives was informed the child may also be her niece Ella Begent. This photo demonstrates the social connectedness within the small Bass Strait Community as Ella lived on Vansittart and Adeline on the Samphire.




Little Green Island

Island Shed_Artboard 5 - Litttle GreenLittle Green Island, a short distance from Lady Barron – not to be confused with Big Green Island on the Western side of Flinders.

Little Green is roughly the same size as Little Dog.

Dad’s mothers side of the family ‘The Briant’s’ have a history with Little Green Island. I have no idea of the time frame, the old photo shows it was a large concern.


I have never set foot on Green Island. Dad has a few amusing stories about going across during the birding season as a teenager.


Receipt Copy 2

Great Dog Island – family history

Big (Great) Dog and Little Dog Islands or the ‘The Dogs‘.

Island Shed_Artboard 3 - Big Dog

Whilst we have a more recent connections it’s been interesting to learning Marsey Waterhouse Barrett lived on Big Dog – post WWI, the ‘Linda’ was built there in 1887 by Henry Taylor  and fills in the gaps of why Brownrigg visited Big Dog with John Smith and Fred Collis in 1882.

Dad knew the ship Linda was built on Big Dog, on certain low tides you can still see the runners – about 200 yards east of Riddles shed. It’s amazing to learn the extent of boat building industry in the Straits in those early days. The outer islands home to dozens of families and boats the only mode of transport. These families as isolated as they were had consistent contact with each other and the mainland due to the extensive shipping network that existed.

The Long Island Barrett family lived on Big Dog before moving to Long Island.

Big Dog was originally on Goose Island –   Dad’s said his Grandfather Jimmy Holt was contracted to move the dismantled house from Goose to Big Dog in his boat the Coogee. He is not sure of the time frame. An early picture of the homestead. The back building was originally the kitchen. The kitchen in our time was the first room to the left on entering the front door. The lounge room was directly behind the kitchen and the bedrooms on the other side of the passage. I also remember the Cherry tree on the East side of the home – they were delicious! and the palm type tree at the front. In November 2014 at the Museum Emita in the light house history folder – Goose Island history section there is a fantastic photo of two identical homesteads taken prior to moving, when I mentioned to Dad he said ‘thats right one went to BD and the other to Emita and was the home of Mr Fisher’. The evidence needed to corroborate the stories handed down.

The Mills family is another name associated with Big Dog – Walter Robinson married Doris Mills or Aunt Dorrie. She was well-known for her horse riding skills. Dad’s Uncles said she could handle herself rounding up the cattle, better than any of the men. It wasn’t unusual for the folk on Flinders looking over to Big Dog to see Aunt Dorrie on her horse.

1913 Dan Bowman wrote in his diary: 28 May 1913 the Toroa discharged 50 head of cattle at Great Dog Island: meaning the cattle would swim the short distance from the boat to their new home.

Marsey Waterhouse Barrett lived on Big Dog after his return from WWI farming the land until his death in 1940.

In the mid 1960’s Robinson Bros. took on Big Dog to run 450 head of sheep. As children we spent a lot of time there when Dad and his cousin went over to work.

One time we all remember vividly: the dreaded ‘BBQ’ on the beach below the homestead one summers day in the 70’s. The scene: three families having a fun time on the beach: until Mr Tiger Snake turned up for a swim (scared out of the bushes by the kids fetching sticks for the BBQ) when Dad saw the snake he put me under one arm and my cousin under the other so we could get the heck out of the water only to find Mr Tiger Snake positioning itself between us and the beach, each time Dad made a move so did the snake. Quite a predicament and lucky for us the dinghy was close by and came to our rescue………

One of my earliest memories is visiting Mr and Mrs Riddles shed on Big Dog – the few things I remember clearly, how excited we were to see Mrs Riddle, the fresh tussock floor covering, but most of all – the smell; tussock, sea air, birds cooking, smoke, a blend unique to birding and only loved by those born into the industry.

Big Dog Island 1963

The Willis’ birding shed was to the West of the homestead and we would sometimes visit. At least we had solid ground to walk on as we headed across the paddock, not like Little Dog where it was hard work walking anywhere.

Below memories from those good old days!

Frank Willis

Heather Willis 

The papered walls and the tussock floor covering.

Washing day – Lady Barron in the background behind the washing

Frank as we all love to remember him

Goose Island number 1 number 2

My last visit to Big Dog was to help with the last of the shearing, my kids were only small and we had a happy day helping out out with the shearing lots of laughing and story telling (mainly about the snake) marking the end of our association with this lovely spot.

The other day when were talking about the old days – Dad said he didn’t miss ‘the boggy, rocky beach’ ……………….and we were all there with him.