Mount Killiecrankie is one of the highest peaks on Flinders Island, an island to the northeast of Tasmania. Be entranced by the vivid natural colours, and undeniable solace found on this 11km mountain mission.
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for this land and water for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
- Be immersed in the remote beauty of Flinders Island
- Huge granite boulders covered with orange Caloplaca lichen
- Try your luck at finding Killiecrankie Diamonds on the beach
- 360° views from the summit
Finding Diamonds on Flinders
One of my favourite adventures on Flinders Island is summiting Mount Killiecrankie, the highest peak on the northern end of the island.
Killiecrankie is one of the better-known destinations on Flinders, thanks to the prevalence of Killiecrankie Diamonds. These unusual ‘diamonds’, are actually topaz, formed within the coarse-grained granite deep in the earth. Killiecrankie has a designated fossicking area on the north side of the bay.
I learnt of this track from a printout in the visitor centre in Whitemark, the main township on the island. The track has been developed and maintained by a local community of volunteers, so online information about it is limited. Don’t let its obscurity fool you – this walk is easily one of the most stunning I have done in Tasmania.
Alone Across Killiecrankie Bay
There are a few ways to take on this walk, but I opted for the ‘out and back’ walk to Killiecrankie summit via Diamond Gully, which takes about four hours. If you’re in the mood for a longer walk (6-7 hours), you can opt to do this walk as a partial circuit by going up the summit and then down around the coast on the way back.
Start out at the Killiecrankie Bay car park and head up the beach towards the mountain at the north end of the bay – you really can’t miss it. This first section of the walk is a little faster at low tide. You’ll have to cross Killiecrankie Creek that runs into the bay, which is easily passable at low tide. When the tide is higher, you may need to take your boots off to wade through.
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After just under an hour of walking along the beach, you’ll find yourself at the northern end of the bay. At this stage, you can either choose to head off the beach onto the Flinders Trail 4WD track or do like I did and rock-hop over the granite boulders to reach Diamond Gully. It’s a little slower going, but it gives you time to savour the rugged coastal landscape.
The vibrant tangerine and green colours of the granite boulders along the coast of Flinders are from lichen growing on their surface.
Fun fact! What we call ‘lichen’ is a combination of algae and fungi that coexist in a symbiotic relationship. The algae use photosynthesis to provide food for the fungus, which in turn provides a protected environment for the algae. The resulting combined life form is very different from the component organisms. There are thousands of different algae and fungi combinations living in harmony, many of which we know very little about.
After another 20-30 minutes scrambling your way closer to the base of Mount Killiecrankie, you reach Diamond Gully, the aptly named fossicking area. Make your way to the path that’s visible on the north side of this little rocky bay and you’ll find yourself on the Flinders Trail 4WD track leading into the coastal heath. After a few minutes of walking, you come to a hand-painted sign giving directions. Follow this and veer right up towards Mount Killiecrankie’s eastern peak.
Summiting Mount Killiecrankie
After walking past a handful of impressive granite boulders, you’ll find yourself in shaded bushland at the base of the mountain. This gradually climbing section of the trail takes you through bracken ferns and eucalyptus forest before it starts climbing more steeply. The incline starts quite suddenly, with the woodland giving way to a dense covering of low-lying shrubs, banksia, and native pines interspersed with open rock faces.
Over the next hour, you weave your way up the side of the mountain towards the summit. It’s steep, but the walk doesn’t feel too gruelling because it’s so varied and the stunning views provide a distraction. There are lots of impressive granite rock formations once you hit the higher slopes – keep a look out for the ‘White Eyed Man’, a giant boulder that looks like a face looking southwards.
For the most part, the trail’s well maintained, and the little cairns and signs make it easy to follow. Be warned though, there are a fair few spots that wouldn’t be fun if you’re afraid of heights or if you’re not a confident walker.
The only part of the walk where the trail gets a little confusing is just before you reach the summit. You can see the summit to your right, going over the spine of a large rock face before dipping down along the northern side of one of the huge boulders.
Follow this around past a ledge with impressive views eastwards over lush farmlands, before looping back up to the summit. You’ll know you’re there when you see the trig station at the top, which is measured at 316m above sea level.
Peer Across Flinders Island
There are incredible views in all directions. To the north, you can make out Blyth Point and Palana on the island. Off the coast, you can spot the Inner Sister and Outer Sister islands in the distance, across the treacherous waters of Bass Strait. To the south, you can see where you departed from in Killiecrankie Bay, as well as the farmland to the east.
There’s a logbook hidden under a rock shelf – I was the only person to have done the walk that day and one of the only people that week, judging from the entries in the logbook.
I saw one person on the beach at the start of the walk, but apart from that, I had the whole mountain to myself. Sitting there gazing out over the island, I felt so grateful to be there.
Flinders has something about it that calls to people who crave a slower, simpler way of life. Even if you’re just visiting, that energy makes an impression on you. It was the break from reality that I was craving.
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The trail back to the car park is relatively quick and easy. Retrace your steps back down the mountain and onto the beach, then follow the Flinders Trail 4WD track until you reach the beach again.
- Rain Jacket
- Warm layers
Read more: Packing List for a Day Hike
How To Get There
Flights to Flinders Island run from Hobart, Launceston, and Bridport in Tassie, but there are direct flights over from Melbourne as well. Full details can be found on the Visit Flinders Island website, which also gives information about accommodation, car hire, and ferry services.
Distance / Duration / Elevation Gain
app. 11km / 4 hours / 316m
Good to Know
Be very cautious hiking Mount Killiecrankie in wet or windy weather as the rock surfaces will be slippery.
Read more: 7 Tips For Rainy Day Hiking
If you don’t have phone reception on Flinders then be sure to tell someone where you’re going and when to expect you back. Consider taking a personal locator beacon.
Drive really, really carefully. There are wombats and wallabies around at all hours of the day, but particularly at dusk and dawn – avoid driving at these times.