Along The Shore: Central Beaches


Hawley Beach

Port Sorell to Burnie


Port Sorell

Much of the activities around Port Sorell revolve around water, particularly the Rubicon Estuary. Diving, boating, fishing from the beach or floating pontoon, water skiing and sea kayaking are all popular activities here. The town's boat ramp is the busiest on the north-west coast. The beach, with its orange lichen-covered granite rocks, is both beautiful to look at and ideal for swimming. It is also known for its minute red sand crabs, Hooded Plovers and good fishing. At low tide it is possible to walk to Penguin Island and Rabbit Island the latter a hideout for bush-rangers in the mid-1800s.


The Port Sorell beaches have a relatively low hazard rating, with usually low to calm waves and shallow bars and sand flats. The best swimming is at mid to high tide. However care must be taken of the rocks on Hawley and Taroona, and in particular if walking or wading out over the sand flats and reefs at low tide. People have been caught on the reefs and high shoals by the rising tide, in addition there are strong tidal currents across the flats at high tide and in the channel at all tides.



Freers Beach

Freers Beach curves from the southern rocks of Taroona Point for 1.7 km to the south, then southeast to the 500 metres entrance of the more constricted inner entrance to the port. A road parallels the back of the beach, with several seawalls and groynes crossing the beach, including one at the southern end. It is usually calm, with a narrow, in places eroding, high tide beach. The Port Sorell Surf Life Saving Club, was founded in 1986 and is located at the northern end of Freers Beach.



Rubicon Estuary

Rubicon Beach Walk: This walk follows on from the Panatana southern shore walk and ends at Squeaking Point through the Port Sorell Conservation Area, a shoreline Reserve. Return 2 kms.


Estuary Eastern Shoreline Walk: Follow the signs on the Frankford Highway to Narawntapu National Park to access the Franklin River starting point. From 1? kilometres south of The Tongue at the western entrance to south east arm, Franklin River and Sugar Creek to The Tongue and around to Lades Road near The Point there is over four kilometres of shoreline reserve to explore. You will need vehicle access as your starting point is 16-18 kilometres from Port Sorell.


Squeaking Point


Squeaking Point
Squeaking Point

The waters of the Rubicon Estuary form the eastern boundary of the small rural community of Squeaking Beach. Located immediately south of Port Sorell, its name dates from the early days of settlement. It was given to the area because of the noise made by some pigs that escaped from a ship. The official name was changed from “Moriarty” to Squeaking Point in 1948.


Northdown Beach
Northdown Beach

Northdown Beach


Northdown Beach is a relatively straight north-northwest-facing 6.3 km long sandy beach, fully exposed to the westerly waves and one of the higher energy beaches on the mid-north coast. Wave height increases to the east where under high wave conditions more dissipative surf with two to three shore-parallel bars prevails.


Moorland Beach, Wesley Vale
Moorland Beach

Moorland Beach, Wesley Vale


Moorland Beach extends east-northeast for 2.1 km between Pardoe and the low Moorland Point. There is a slight protrusion in the beach caused by wave refraction and attenuation to the lee of Wright and Egg islands, located 1-1.5 km offshore. The beach has a near continuous 150 m wide low tide bar, with low tide rips forming during higher waves, while closer to Moorland Point inter tidal rocks and reefs are located in the inter tidal zone.


Pardoe Beach
Pardoe Beach

Pardoe Beach, Wesley Vale


Pardoe Beach commences against the end of the cobble beaches that surround Pardoe Downs, with a car park marking the boundary. It trends to the east-northeast for 3 km to the cobble, reef-tipped Pardoe Point. It receives the full force of the westerly wind waves, which average over 1 metre and maintain rips in the low tide surf during periods of higher waves. The beach is backed by a 150 m wide series of hummocky foredune ridges, with a waste treatment plant in the east and the western end of Devonport Airport to the west, and farmland extending inland.


>Flour Mill Bay, East Devonport

Flour Mill Bay, East Devonport

Flour Mill Bay, East Devonport


Accessed via Melrose Street, this beach proves popular for the residents of East Devonport. Nearby facilities include public toilets, sealed walking and cycling track, electric barbeques, picnic shelter, car park and caravan park. A dog exercise area is provided on the section of East Devonport Beach from Wright Street, up to and including Pardoe Beach. Access to the dog exercise area is via Wright Street, Tarleton Street, North Caroline Street or Tea Tree Lane.


Mersey Bluff, Devonport

Mersey Bluff, Devonport

Mersey Bluff, Devonport


Mersey Bluff, on the western side of the mouth of the River Mersey, is an interesting coastal area featuring cliffs, seascapes, parkland and Aboriginal rock art. There are walking tracks along the coast from which to enjoy nature, or to take an early morning walk and watch the Spirit of Tasmania come in from Melbourne. To the west of Mersey Bluff is Don Heads. Tiagarra, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Cultural and Arts Centre, has dioramas showing the lifestyle of the Tasmanian Aborigines from the region, and is close to Aboriginal rock carvings.


Mersey Bluff, Devonport

The Mersey Bluff Lighthouse standing at the mouth of the Mersey River near Devonport is unusual in Australia with its distinctive vertical red striped day mark. Established in 1889 and is built of bricks on a stone base, it replaced a succession of beacons and obelisks that had formerly stood on the site. It also replaced the earlier Don River light. The establishment of the lighthouse ended a history of wrecks in this area.


Mersey Bluff Beach, Devonport

Accessed via Bluff Road, the Mersey Bluff Beach is the only beach in Devonport patrolled by volunteer surf lifesavers (summer months only). Located in the iconic Mersey Bluff Precinct, this beach is a popular spot for residents and holiday makers. A kiosk is located nearby, as is a children’s playground. Other nearby facilities include public toilets and change rooms, sealed walking and cycling track, electric barbecues, picnic shelters, car parks, skateboard facility and sports ground.


Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Bass Strait Maritime Centre

Devonport's maritime history is celebrated at the Bass Strait Maritime Centre, which features a large collection of model ships. Devonport's seafaring connection continues today through the Spirit of Tasmania, the only passenger ferry operating across Bass Strait. Location: 6 Gloucester Ave, Devonport. Ph (03) 6424 7100.


Back Beach, Devonport

Back Beach, Devonport

Back Beach, Devonport


Accessed via Coles Beach Road, located to the west of Bluff Beach. Nearby facilities include cycle and sealed walking pathways, rubbish bin, car park and foreshore reserve area. Back Beach is also a designated dog exercise area.


Coles Beach, Devonport

Coles Beach, Devonport

Coles Beach, Devonport


Accessed via Coles Beach Road, Coles Beach is another very popular spot for beachgoers. Nearby facilities include public toilets, sealed walking and cycling track, electric barbecue, picnic shelters, car park and an outdoor shower. Coles Beach is located in a semi-circular north-facing bay, bordered by a low cobble point to the west and 20 m high bluffs to the east.


The Coles Beach Road and the railway line to Burnie run parallel the back of the beach. There is a large reserve and car park toward the western end and a second car park at the eastern end. The beach is moderately well exposed to west through northerly waves and is a popular surfing beach. At high tide it consists of a steep, narrow sand and cobble beach, while at low tide a 100 m wide, continuous bar is exposed, with rock flats, including some large boulders to either end. During higher waves rips form in the lower surf zone. Coles Beach's rocky shoreline make it an ideal place to go beachcombing for shells and small sea creatures.


Don Heads, Don

Don Heads, Don

Don Heads, Don


Don Heads, on the western side of the mouth of the Don River, is a rocky headland peppered with columnar basalt rocks along its shore. A walking trail leads to the top of the bluff and along the coast to a number of beaches, and eventually Lillico Beach Conservation Area.

Don Heads, Dons

Don Heads beach is a cobble recurved spit which is attached at its western end to the base of the 50 m high heads, and curves to the southeast for 200 metre into the entrance to the river. Nearby is 2 ha wetland, which is encircled by the Don Heads Nature Trail. The narrow cobble ridge is fronted by 100-200 m wide inter tidal rock flats. Don Head is accessible by car from the Don Heads Road.


Paradise Cove, West Devonport

Paradise Cove, West Devonport

Paradise Cove, West Devonport


The coast between Don Heads and the penguin-viewing platform at Lillico Beach is largely undeveloped. A few fences and a few farm buildings and houses several kilometres metres away are the only man made structures that can be seen while walking the coastline. The area has little protection – and is on Devonport's doorstep. The coast features a small tessellated pavement, a blowhole, basalt columns and a number of small beaches, including Paradise Cove.

Paradise Cove is a rarely visited 150 metre long high tide beach, bordered by rocky points backed by 20-30 m high cleared slopes. In between steep vegetated bluffs back the beach, which is fronted by inter tidal rock flats which dominate all but a central sandy channel. Another isolated beach is located 100 metres to the east, and is a 50 metre long pocket of high tide cobbles, bordered by rocky points fronted by inter tidal flats, with a deeper central channel between.


Lillico Beach

Lillico Beach

Lillico Beach


Lillico Beach Conservation Area, 6km west of Devonport alongside the Bass Highway, is a beautiful spot during the day (coastal bush with pebbles, rocks and a boardwalk, but no sand) and wonderful around dusk when a colony of fairy penguins come in for the night after a day of fishing in the open ocean.

Lillico Beach

Lillico Beach

Between October and April, volunteer guides are on hand to provide information and use red light torches so visitors can see the penguins clearly from viewing platforms. The highlight of the viewing experience is seeing the little penguins emerge from the sea and make their way over the rocks and up the beach to their burrows. The walkway is wheelchair friendly.


Turners Beach

Turners Beach

Turners Beach


Turners Beach and Leith are two localities on the shores of Bass Strait that are blessed with superb beaches, serene pieces of beach paradise that are untouched by the masses. Turners Beach and Leith sit on either side of the mouth of the River Forth where it empties into Bass Strait. The beaches are big and wide, with plenty of room for young travellers to stretch their legs and run off some energy. According to the local fishermen, the salmon and mullet run thick and fast in the river mouth of the Forth.

Turners Beach

The beach at Turners is a straight north-northwest-facing strip of sand that extends from Claytons Rivulet to the 100 metre wide mouth of the River Forth. The eastern 100 metres of beach curves into the river mouth, which has a deep channel and strong tidal current flowing though the mouth. A boat ramp is located 100 metres into the river mouth. The beach is backed by a narrow recreation reserve filled with trees, has a central parking are and a picnic and recreation area, followed by a row of beachfront houses and finally a caravan park in the east. There is a viewing platform that is perfect for taking photos.


Claytons Beach, Ulverstone

Claytons Beach, Ulverstone

Claytons Beach, Ulverstone


The steep narrow high tide beach is composed of cobbles and fronted by uniform cobble flats up to 100 metres wide. It is backed by drained grass-covered wetlands, the old railway line, with the highway 500 metres to the south and no direct public access. The Fish Pond, inside two recurved cobble spits that have converged on the point to partly enclose a shallow 100 metre wide embayment, is located to the east of Claytons Beach. A small stream drains out of the pond at its western end. No direct public access.


Buttons Beach, Ulverstone

Buttons Beach, Ulverstone

Buttons Beach, Ulverstone


The main ocean beach at Ulverstone, Buttons Beach is a 2.7 km long north-facing ribbon of clean sand, bordered by the 1 km long training wall of the River Leven in the west and the low rocks of The Fish Pond in the east. The Ulverstone Surf Life Saving Club is located toward the centre of the beach. The small Buttons Creek drains out across the centre of the beach.

Picnic Point and Buttons beaches are moderately safe for swimming under normal low wave conditions, apart from near the exposed and submerged rocks. During higher waves rips can also form in the low tide surf zone and around the rocks. The safest swimming is in the patrolled area in front of the surf club, otherwise at mid to high tide away from the rocks.


Picnic Point Beach, Ulverstone

Picnic Point Beach, Ulverstone

Picnic Point Beach, Ulverstone


Picnic Point Beach commences immediately east of Goat Island and extends east for 1.8 km to the point. It is initially a cobble high tide beach, containing rock outcrops and inter tidal rock flats. As it extends to the east the cobbles are replaced by a narrow high tide sand beach fronted by a mixture of rock flats and a 100 m wide low tide terrace. It is backed by a narrow reserve then the road, with houses increasing to the east. Waves average less than 1 m and spill across the low gradient beach and flats.


Goat Island

Goat Island

Goat Island, West Ulverstone


Between Penguin and Ulverstone are a group of small granite offshore islands known as The Three Sisters. Goat Island to their east is accessible at low tide -but be very careful not to get stranded. The island is a beachcombers paradise - there are jagged edges, fiery lichen, unusual seaweed, muscles, a cave and a fishing pool that's big enough to swim in. Goat Island houses a breeding colony of little penguins.

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters island group has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International because, with up to 400 breeding pairs, it supports over 1 percent of the world population of black-faced cormorants. Because landings are difficult owing to the lack of beaches and safe anchoring points they are little affected by human visitation and disturbance, although Australian fur seals haul-out on the lowest of them. Pacific gulls and sooty oyster-catchers breed there every year in small numbers, and Caspian terns have nested there. White-bellied sea-eagles forage around the islands.


Nakaervis Reserve

Nakaervis Reserve

Nakaervis Reserve runs along the shoreline opposite the Three Sisters island group. On the western side of the point there is a small beach, but to access it, one must cross the railway line. Care must be taken doing this as the line is in regular use by freight trains.


Neptune Silver Mine site

Neptune Silver Mine shaft head site

Neptune Silver Mine site


The site of the silver mine is just outside of the town on the eastern side on the coastal road to Ulverstone. It was here, in 1850, that silver ore was first discovered by James 'Philosopher' Smith, an indefatigable Tasmanian explorer. By 1871, Penguin Silver Mines Co. had sunk a permanent shaft from which some of the richest sampled had yielded ore as high as 157 oz. to the ton. The ore also contained considerable quantities of copper, nickel, cobalt, lead, arsenic, sulphur, manganese and a small portion of gold.

The mine, however, did not live up to expectations, and was soon closed and the shaft filled in. The site is marked with information signs but little evidence of the mine remains. Please take care if you cross the railway line looking for the mine site as goods trains do pass along along it every day.


Penguin Beach

Penguin Beach

Penguin Beach


The Penguin beaches have a relatively low hazard rating under normal low wave conditions. However care must be taken on all beaches when waves exceed 0.5 m as rips develop, particularly at low tide and near the rocks, as well as the hazards posed by the many exposed and submerged rocks and reefs. None of Penguin’s beaches are known for their surf. However the best breaks will be on the more exposed Preservation Bay Beach when swell is running, with a right-hander forming off the eastern point.

Penguin Beach extends across the town front from Beecraft Point. The point was once the site of the town jetty and has a boat ramp and parking area. Penguin Creek flows out against the point with the crenelate beach extending to the east. The long piles of black rocks on Penguin beach here have historic significance as they are the ballast off-loaded from ships loading timber back to Victoria. The area was settled in the 1860s.


Watcombe Beach, Pengui

Watcombe Beach, Penguin

Watcombe Beach, Penguin


Watcombe Beach lies on the eastern side of Surf Club Point. It is a north-facing beach with a 50 metre wide sandy low tide bar, bordered and fringed by extensive rock flats, particularly to the east. A low narrow foredune, then an embankment rising up to the old rail line, back the beach, the line now used as a bike path with the road behind the beach. A Lions Club picnic area is located on the western Surf Club Point.


Johnsons Beach, Penguin

Johnsons Beach, Penguin

Johnsons Beach, Penguin


Johnsons Beach, to the immediate west of the town centre, has a playground and public toilets, a skate park and a miniature railway track that loops around the knoll. It used to operate twice monthly on the second and fourth Sundays, and was a big hit with children and adults alike, but I haven't seen it running recently.


Preservation Bay

Preservation Bay

Preservation Bay


One of the prettiest beaches on Tasmania's Bass Strait, Preservation Bay features a north-facing curved ribbon of sand set between low rocky bluffs. There is good access to the beach from the large car park next to the Penguin Surf Life Saving Club located behind the rocky shore at the eastern end. It is a popular swimming beach, however rips do occur during higher waves at low tide, with a strong rip running out against the eastern clubhouse rocks during northwest wave conditions.

It is common belief that George Bass and Matthew Flinders came ashore here to take on fresh water in 1798. Contrary to popular belief, the bay was not named by James Cook (he came nowhere near the place) but recalls a visit by three early European settlers who took refuge here in 1845 when the whaleboat they were sailing in was almost swamped in a storm. They camped for the night here, then sailed on to Emu Bay (Burnie).


Sulphur Creek

Sulphur Creek

Sulphur Creek


Sulphur Creek is a locality and small rural community on the shores of Bass Strait, to the west of Penguin. Sulphur Creek has a curving 250 metre long sandy beach bordered by rocky shore and boulders. Volcanic activity has been the main determinant of the current landscape of North-West Tasmania. Weathering of the numerous lava flows has resulted in both the rich red soils so important to the agricultural industry and very prominent landforms, such as the amazing rock formations lining the shore near the boat ramp here.

Sulphur Creek is reputedly named because of the perceived smell of sulphur in the area when first explored by Europeans. Sulphur is associated with volcanic activity. This site is very interesting in that it contains rocks from the geological period just prior to, and the geological period following the most violent period of volcanic activity when chains of volcanoes formed across Tasmania.


Blythe Heads

Blythe Heads

Blythe Heads, Heybridge


Blythe Heads is where the Blythe River enters Bass Strait. The highway runs around the base of Titan Point (eastern side of Blythe River) and clips the western end of Blythe Mouth beach with a seawall backing the first 200 metres of the beach.

Blythe Heads

To the east of the Blythe River is a 200 metre long section of rocky shore and rock flats, followed by a beach which curves to the east, terminating at a low protruding rocky point. This is a narrow sandy high tide beach, backed by some cobbles and fronted by ridged rock flats. The community of Heybridge is located on the southern side of the highway. Blythe Point is the home of the Max Stonehouse Woodchop arena, Blythe Heads Axemens Club and the annual Blythe Heads wood-chopping carnival.


Chasm Creek

Chasm Creek

Chasm Creek


The shore of Round Hill Point consists of a strip of high tide cobbles, fronted by ridges of meta-sedimentary rocks and inter tidal rock flats. The railway line clips the rear of the beach, with some scrub and a house between the line and highway. The beach in the lee of Titan Point almost disappeared when widening the highway required the construction of a seawall. The once 400 metre long beach now consists of an 70 metre long wedge of sand between the western boundary rocks and the seawall, with the small Chasm Creek draining out against the rocks.

Round Hill Point
Round Hill Point

The Coastal Railway


Though there are no passenger services on the line today - in fact the line now stops at Burnie - there was once a passenger train which ran from Wynyard to Launceston, and then on to Hobart. Called the Tasman Limited, the service started in 1954 running from Hobart to Launceston to Wynyard, with 26 stops in between, and ended in 1978. It was considered the state’s great luxury passenger train.”



The patriarchal, eight-hour train service allowed Tasmanians, especially those living in regional areas, to travel and see other places in the state. It was very comfortable for its time, there was a buffet car to get something to eat, and people really enjoyed the trip. The train used to carry a name board, so the Hobart to Launceston was called the Tamar and the Launceston to Wynyard was called the Table Cape, but going Wynyard to Launceston it was called the Launceston, and when it left for Hobart, it changed to the Derwent,” Mr Brun said.

Toni-Anne Carrol worked the Wynyard to Western Junction line. Her most vivid memory of the train was when it derailed near Campbell Town; passengers were loaded onto a bus, driven across paddocks and fed at the Campbell Town pub, before being driven to Hobart. “I was 19 and it was my first year of uni - there was no warning, just a massive thud and over we went. I went flying from my window seat.” Carol later worked on the Tasman Limited as a hostess and was famous for her amusing commentary, and everyone used to mimic it.



The Tasman Limited was very well patronised in the ‘50s and ‘60s but by the 1970s everyone was traveling in cars and the train became unnecessary. During its most popular time the train is believed to have carried up to 200 passengers, but towards its end, numbers dwindled to around 15 passengers per trip.

In common with many railway systems, Tasmania's was of necessity exploited by overuse and under-maintenance during the Second World War. By the 1970s passenger patronage was in such decline, there was insufficient revenue being generated to warrant upgrading Tasmania's passenger trains, and a decision was made to withdraw the service. The last passenger train from Wynyard to Hobart ran on 18th July 1978. The the ABC studios have been built on the site of the former Hobart railway station. Much of the passenger rolling stock went to the Tasmanian Railway Museum at Glenorchy, with some going to the Don River Preservation Railway based in Devonport.