Devonport, at the mouth of the Mersey River, is one of three major cities in Tasmania's north, the others being Launceston and Burnie. To visitors to Tasmania, it is primarily known as the port for the Spirit of Tasmania car and passenger ferries - Spirit of Tasmania I and II - which make daily 10-hour trips between their terminals at East Devonport and Station Pier, Melbourne.
Devonport is seen by many as a way station, not only for people travelling between Tasmania and the mainland but for travellers on the north west coast of Tasmania, though there is plenty in the Devonport region for visitors to see and do to justify more than an overnight stop upon arrival or before departure.
Devonport is an active seaport that handles much of the movement of produce from the farms and fisheries of Tasmania. With over 23,000 people, the City of Devonport is the largest population centre on the northern coast of Tasmania. Devonport Airport is located at Pardoe Downs approximately 7 km to the east of the city of Devonport, about a 15 min drive by car. The airport is serviced by Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop aircraft, operated by QantasLink, with four daily services to Melbourne, Victoria.
There are several bus companies serving Devonport including Mersey Link, Redline Coaches and Phoenix Coaches. Metropolitan Devonport bus services are limited on Saturdays and there are no services on Sundays or Public holidays.
Where Is it?: Devonport is 102 km north west of Launcestion via Bass Highway, 47 km east of Burnie and 277 km from Hobart. It is a sea port on Bass Strait
The main CBD is on the west side of the Mersey River and includes a pedestrian mall, cinema, speciality stores, chain stores such as IGA and hotels. There are several local restaurants and cafes.
Local theatre and Conventions are held at the Devonport Entertainment and Convention Centre in the city's CBD.
The Devonport Regional Gallery evolved from the inception of The Little Gallery, which was founded by Jean Thomas as a private enterprise in 1966. The Gallery presents an annual program of exhibitions, education and public programs including events and workshops. A broad range of selected local artisan works are displayed at the North West Regional Craft Centre and gift store in the CBD.
There are walking tracks along the coast from which to enjoy nature, or to take an early morning walk and watch the Spirit of Tasmsnia come in from Melbourre. To the west of Mersy 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 is an interesting coastal area featuring cliffs, seascapes, parkland and Aboriginal rock art. Mersey Bluff is composed of Jurassic dolerite (approximately 180 million years old). In places exposed surfaces display unusual markings that were once believed to have been carved by Aboriginal people. However these are now considered to be a result of weathering and root action.
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.
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
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.
Don to Devonport Cycleway
The Don to Devonport Cycleway is a 7.5km, grade 2 One Way hike located in Northern Tasmania Tasmania. The hike should take approximately 2hrs to complete. See some of the nicest parts of Devonport by walking or cycling the rail trail. Parts of the trail run parallel with the railway to Burnie and the Don River tourist railway. Part also follows the route of a former tramway. You can follow the trail from the Don Railway Station to central Devonport, with the option of a loop trail along the opposite bank of the Don River.
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.
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, 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 eventuslly Lillico Beach Conservation Area.
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 intertidal rock flats. Don Head is accessible by car from the Don Heads Road.
MV Searoad Mersey II
Port of Devonport
In early days coal was an export product from Devonport. Today, imports include petroleum, bunker fuel, fertiliser and caustic soda. Cement Australia has exported cement products produced from Railton to Melbourne since 1926. Other exports via ships include tallow. A rail line still services the ports area of Devonport. Devonport once had a roundhouse and railway maintenance yards on the foreshore of the Mersey River. A park exists there today.
Searoad Road Shipping operate two roll on roll off vessel of general freight between Devonport, Melbourne and King Island. Vessels servicing these destinations which frequent thir facilities at East Devonport include MV Searoad Mersey, MV Searoad Mersey II (2016- ) and MV Searoad Tamar.
Passenger Ferry Terminal
Tasmania is linked by sea to the mainland view the car and passenger ferries Spirit of Tasmania I and II, which ply the waters of Bass Strait every night (duration: 10hrs 30 minutes), and during daylight hours in the summer months. Getting on and off with a car is an easy, painless experience; the only delay is likely to be going through the quarantine check at Devonport which is slow in peak periods. The Devonport Passenger Ferry Terminal is the southern terminus for the service.
Notable Historic Buildings
A single storey timber house in excellent condition built about 1910. The house is complemented by extensive landscaped grounds. It was the home of the late Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon J Lyons. The home features a bay window, some twelve pane windows, elegant cast iron trim to verandahs, and timber patterning to some gable ends. Location: 77 Middle Road, Devonport.
Mount Pleasant is the oldest property in Devonport and surrounds. Built around 1854, it remained in the same family until purchased by the National Trust (NW Branch). It is a single story Georgian transitional cottage obviously derived from the Indian Bungalow. The building is intact and in original condition with an extensive old old garden. Its location on top of the highest ground in East Devonport is important and the building and grounds are essential townscape elements. Location: 107 David Street, East Devonport.
Westpac Bank Building
Demolished in 1990, this building was the only Heritage Listed building in the Devonport central business district. The Bank was constructed in 1928-1929 for the Bank of New South Wales, with a residence above. It is an important neo-classical building which is unusual for Devonport and the coastal towns in the north-west region, and an excellent example of a provincial bank virtually in its original condition. The street facade of the building is particularly significant having finely moulded cornices, dentils, egg and dart mouldings, consuls, rustications and two composite order columns with finely moulded capitals. Examples of the standard of craftsmanship displayed in this stucco facade are now very rare on the north-west coast. 33 Stewart Street, Devonport.
Hawley's Gingerbread House
Listed with the National Trust, Hawley's Gingerbread House is one of Devonport’s oldest and most impressive architectural icons. The distinctive Victorian Carpenter Gothic architecture features include arched leadlight windows and decorative bargeboards. The home began life as a Methodist Parsonage for a neighbouring church, which has long since been demolished. The house is said to be haunted. After it served its purpose as a parsonage, it was converted to an orphanage where children where housed and raised, znd some died in tragic circumstances. After that, it was sadly neglected and left to be ruined. The building was built in 1878 and renovated in the 1970s and is now the sister property of Hawley House. Location: 71 Wright Street, East Devonport.
Former Bank Building
This is a two storey brick bank building set on a corner location with the entry on a recessed section on the corner. The building has a granite plinth, trifoliate window heads on the ground floor and semi-circular windows heads on the first floor and a brick parapet and entablature on the first floor. It was built for the Commercial Bank of Tasmania and demonstrates the principal characteristics of a two storey brick Federation Freestyle commercial building. Location: 43 Rooke Street, Devonport.
Formby (Devonport) from Torquay (East Devonport), 1874
During the 1850s the twin settlements of Formby and Torquay were established on opposite banks at the mouth of the Mersey River. Torquay (now East Devonport) on the eastern shore was the larger community with police, post office, magistrate's court, at least three hotels, shipyards and numerous stores. A river ferry service connected the two communities. Between 1870 and 1880 the shipping industry grew and work was undertaken to deepen the mouth of the river. When the mouth of the river could support a shipping industry the first regular steamer services commenced, operating directly between the Mersey and Melbourne.
Devonport Wharf, 1902
In 1882 the Marine Board building was built and remains one of the oldest standing buildings in Devonport. Seven years later, the Bluff lighthouse was completed and by the turn of the century the coming of the railway make a significant difference to the two communities. At Formby, the railhead and port facilities were combined in the one place, a wharf was created on the west bank, close to the railway. Warehouses and other facilities were erected and Formby took over as the main centre. In 1890 a public vote united Torquay and Formby, and the settlements became the town of Devonport.
The Victoria bridge was opened in 1902 which enabled a land transport link between Devonport and East Devonport. Devonport was proclaimed a city by Prince Charles of Wales on 21 April 1981 in a ceremony conducted on the Devonport Oval.