The shipping service between Bridport and Flinders Island began in 1995 when Southern Shipping Company Pty Ltd won the State Government contract to run a new sea freight service to replace the existing service from Launceston.

The vessel, Matthew Flinders III was built in Bridport by Matthew Bayles’ company, F.C Management Pty Ltd to commence the service.

Southern Shipping Pty Ltd was sold in 2005 and continued operations under new ownership until 2009.

In December of 2009, the Bayles family established Furneaux Freight Pty Ltd to bring the business back under their control.

Matthew Flinders III was extended to 45 metres overall soon afterwards and has been operating the run to Flinders Island, Cape Barren Island and Welshpool ever since.

Matthew Bayles’ daughter, Shannon Bayles, took over the business from her father in 2011.

In 2019 F.C Management was commissioned to construct a new vessel to keep up with the growth in freight volumes. The Matthew Flinders IV was launched in September of 2021 and commenced operations to Flinders Island in early 2022. Matthew Flinders IV represents the culmination of the Bayles family’s 26 years of experience and expertise building vessels and running marine and road freight services from Bridport.

The Bayles family have made a significant contribution to the economy of Flinders Island and NE Tasmania. Matthew Bayles continues to build and service seaworthy steel displacement vessels well suited to Tasmanian conditions.

In September 2021, David Harris from Port Adelaide approached Matthew Bayles to discuss the possibility of purchasing the Matthew Flinders IV for the salvage of fire ravaged plantation timber from Kangaroo Island to Port Adelaide. A friendship was struck between the parties which culminated in the purchase of the assets of the Furneaux Freight business, including both vessels.

Despite the hostile Bass Strait marine weather conditions and the tidal restrictions at Bridport, the service has developed into a successful business which now underpins the Flinders Island and Cape Barren Island economies.

The new company, Bass Strait Freight Pty Ltd is quietly building on the Bayles family’s legacy by continuing to concentrate on customer service and innovative freight solutions. Plans are afoot to expand the business to regularly service King Island by re-establishing the direct freight route from King Island north to Victoria using the port of Apollo Bay.