Russell Kelly

Flinders Island is one of Australia's hidden secrets. Why more Australians don't travel there is a modern mystery.

The remoteness and gorgeous scenery of Flinders Island are part of its charm.

The Age newspaper in 2013 voted one of its secluded beaches the best unknown beach in Australia – Sawyers Beach.

Go there and you will quite possibly have this most remarkable, peaceful and beautiful beachscape all to yourself – with fine, granite sand, and massive rounded boulders.

The island is part of Tasmania, and lies about 100 kilometres south of Wilson's Promontory in Victoria.

It is home to about 800 people, and a thriving beef and sheep industry. It's also famous for abalone and crayfish.

Taking the Sky Muster™ service to Flinders Island introduces a new phase of digital communications for its homes and businesses.

Previously, it was served by 3G technology, which of course can come with inherent congestion and data limits.

There are many stories on Flinders of telecommunications issues curbing the ambitions of islanders.

According to many among the local population, it simply isn't a fast enough solution to open up the opportunities that many islanders can see around them.

Sky Muster™ services arrived, bringing fast internet speeds and a terrific increase in data allocation.

It means ehealth is now a realistic opportunity, with island medicos now having the possibility of using video conferencing to Launceston to check with specialists on the conditions of patients.*

This is vital on an island. Sending patients to the mainland for medical checks has traditionally been the common approach – "when in doubt, fly out".

Often the precautionary flights are not needed, but nevertheless incur expense for patients and their families.

Access to fast broadband could mean that some of these flights can be avoided.

Fast internet speeds could also usher in a new era in education.

Young people will be able to better access learning resources and online courses. For the mature-age student, fast internet offers the opportunity for online learning and obtaining nationally-recognised qualifications.

Perhaps one of the biggest boons is the opportunity for Flinders to further develop its own tourism and food brand.

Flinders is set up to be a clean, green food producer, and to strengthen its existing tourism industry on the back of that.

Already, there are significant beef and lamb enterprises on the island. For example, the beef is predominantly sold through the 'Cape Grim' brand as part of this clean, green premium appellation scheme covering the North West of Tasmania.

But in the future, it is certainly possible that Flinders can develop its own appellation scheme for food, such has occurred on King Island at the western end of Bass Strait.

There are also a number of premium food and accommodation experiences on Flinders, but so much potential for more.

All of this opportunity can be powered by access to fast internet, which helps islanders to showcase their home to the world, and develop further the skills and creative talents that already exist on the island.

A while back, we took the Sky Muster™ demonstration vehicle to the annual Flinders Island Show.

We spoke to dozens of islanders and heard about their experiences – some pleasant and some less so – with island communications.

Many people from Flinders are using fast internet for training and education, and some were beginning to refocus their businesses with an online presence. But there is a long way to go.

Sky Muster™ now offers the opportunity for a level playing field for Flinders, and the possibility of a significant diversification in the economy.*

Check your address to see when you can switch

Your experience including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ broadband access network depends on the technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans, signal reception and how your service provider designs its network.

Russell Kelly

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