Schouten Island – Freycinet Peninsula

Freycinet Peninsula Schouten Island

Schouten Island is a rugged Island about 1.6 km south of the Freycinet Peninsula. The island is popular for camping and kayaking but with no ferry service, the island very rarely has more than a few people on it at a time, which is naturally part of the charm.

The coastline is made up of small sandy beaches and rocky granite bays, the island itself has a variety of landscapes ranging from eucalyptus forests to scrubland and grasslands were it was once used for grazing. The island is a breeding ground for Little Penguins and Short Tailed Shearwaters, as well as a number of other bird species.

Historically, the island has remnants of kichen middens which indicate that it was inhabited by Indigenous tribes (specifically the Oyster Bay tribe), prior to European settlement.   After settlement, the island has been used for coal and tin mining, grazing sheep, with sealers and whalers also setting up stations for short periods.

The island was named by Abel Tasman in December 1642 after Joost Schouten, a member of the Dutch East India company. While Joost Schouten was highly regarded during his career, his story, sadly, does not have a happy ending.

At the time of naming, Tasman believed the adjacent Freycinet Peninsula to be a chain of islands, as the weather did not permit the vessel to get in close enough to shore to be able to see that the jagged mountains visible from their vantage point were actually connected.

In 1977, Schouten Island was officially declared to be a part of the Freycinet National Park who now work to conserve a wide variety of flora and fauna, and unique landscapes, as well as protecting the distinct Aboriginal history and heritage we have in the area.