Pointing west across Ringarooma Bay, Cape Portland is the north eastern tip of Tasmania. It was named after the Duke of Portland by Matthew Flinders during his 1798 circumnavigation of the island in the sloop Norfolk with George Bass. It is an important bird breeding area for the Cape Barren Goose, Chestnut Teal and the threatened Hooded Plover. There is a small fishing community at Cape Portland.
Where Is it?: Cape Portland is 25 km north of Gladstone, 315 km north of Hobart; 130 km east of Launceston
Mount William National Park
Mount William National Park is an isolated wilderness area fringed with gorgeous bays stretching from Ansons River to Musselroe Bay. The landscape is one of rolling hills, rugged headlands and pristine white-sand beaches, some strewn with pink-granite boulders, while in the north a string of marshy lagoons sits behind windswept coastal dunes.
From its long, lonely beaches to its teeming wildlife; from its unique history to its abundant plant life, Mt William National Park is a place of constant fascination. Nestled in the far north-east corner of the State, the park is an important area for the conservation of Tasmania's coastal heathlands and dry sclerophyll plants. Whether you fish or swim; watch birds or wander by the sea, there's always something more to see in this beautiful national park.
Mt. William National Park has an amazing diversity of animals. It is an important sanctuary for the Forester (or eastern grey) kangaroo (now restricted to several properties in the Midlands and north-east of the State), wombats, Bennetts wallabies and Tasmanian pademelons are also common. They are usually best seen in the early morning or around sunset. Another common animal is the echidna. It can often be found during the day, particularly in the summer months, foraging for ants. Brush-tailed possums and Tasmanian devils are common in the Park, but being nocturnal are not readily seen during the day.
Photo: Marine and Safety Tasmania
The clean, white sand of Musselroe Bay on the east side of Cape Portland, is a popular spot for camping, beach fishing and swimming. Situated within Mount William National Park, it is also known as a place to experience close encounters with Forester kangaroos and other Tasmanian wildlife in their natural environment. Musselroe Bay Conservation Area stretches from Little Musselroe Bay south-east along Great Musselroe Bay to Poole at the northern edge of Mt William National Park. This long, incredibly scenic coastline of deserted white-sand beaches punctuated by windswept headlands, sheltered lagoons and estuaries is a haven for anglers and birdwatchers. Musselroe Bay is located about 91 kilometres (57 mi) north-east of the town of Scottsdale.
Little Musselroe Bay
Little Musselroe Bay is a lovely bay with views of the Furneaux Islands (Flinders Island, Cape Barren Island) and a plethora of birds and wildlife. Like the Bay of Fires, the sand is very clean and white and the water has a rich blue colour. Little Musselroe Bay offers free camping. but you will need to bring your own firewood and drinking water with you. This campground is only for the summer and surrounding warmer months, closing each year after Anzac Day and reopening on November 1st. This campground is only suitable for tent camping and small vehicles.
Tasmania’s North East has a rich and ancient history, incorporating over 40,000 years of continuous habitation and significant Aboriginal Heritage. The Tebrakunna Visitor Centre near Little Musselroe Bay provides informative displays about the traditional owners, as well as details about the Musselroe Wind Farm (on which this centre is located) and the agricultural history of the Cape Portland Farm still in operation beneath the turbines. The Tebrakunna Visitor Centre is named after the land and includes displays and information about the wind farm, the traditional landowners, the history of the Cape Portland property and the maritime and mining history of the greater North East region. The Tebrakunna Visitor Centre is accessible from the road to Little Musselroe Bay on Cape Portland Road. The Centre is located on the right just before the Little Musselroe Bay recreation area.
Musselroe Wind Farm was constructed and commissioned in 2013 and it is by far the largest of the three Woolnorth Wind Farms. There are 56 Vestas V90 wind turbines at the site giving a total installed capacity of 168 MW. The turbines are mounted on top of towers that are 80m high with blades that are 44m long. Over a 12 month period Musselroe produces approximately 5 percent of Tasmania’s electrical energy needs.
The wind farm is undertaking a trial of a new radar system that is able to detect birds in an area covering from the horizon up to a kilometre in height and will automatically shut down a turbine if a bird is detected. This is a very positive development as Cape Portland is full of native wildlife, including the white bellied sea eagle which is classed as vulnerable, and the endangered wedge tailed eagle.
Stumpys Bay Campground is just one of just four of the places to camp in Mount William National Park. The campsite here is smaller than that at Musselroe Bay, but it is the best site for tents and it has safer swimming. This camping area is gas/fuel stove-only as fires are prohibited. A day-shelter with gas barbecues is found here. Picnic tables, fire and pit toilets are provided near most of the other campgrounds. Day shelter with gas barbecues can be found at Stumpys Bay No 4 only. There are no garbage bins in the park, so please take all rubbish out with you.
Campgrounds in this area have narrow access tracks that are not suitable for large caravans, campervans and motorhomes as vehicles may be seriously due to limited space and large overhanging tree branches. Small to medium sized caravans and motorhomes can be accommodated. No bookings are possible.
The four camp sites here provide access to a long beach with vast ocean views. The sites are located just behind a sand beach beneath a canopy of trees that provides shade and a buffer from the wind. Stumpys Bay is reached from Forester Kangaroo Drive, so the beachfront camping is complimented by wildlife viewing. It is common to see native wildlife at dawn and dusk including the awesome Forester Kangaroo, Wombats and Echidnas.
Called Larapuna in the local Aboriginal language, Eddystone is part of the traditional territory of Tasmanian Aborigines. They have re-occupied Eddystone Point since 1999 when the Tasmanian Government agreed in principle to the return of Eddystone Point and Mt. William National Park. The point is essentially one huge midden and there are over ninety individual middens, nearly sixty artefact sites and some burial sites in Mt. William National Park, which surrounds the point. Please do not disturb any sites you may come across.
The striking pink granite tower of the Eddystone Point lighthouse was built on a point that juts out into the sea in 1889 in response to many north bound ships being wrecked by coming in too close to the northeast coast of Tasmania. The light was serviced by sea and over the years the landing areas took a battering with jetties having to be rebuilt several times. The lighthouse is in the Mount William National Park. It can be reached by unsealed roads of a fair condition from St Helens or Gladstone (32 km).
Bay of Fires
A beautiful piece of wilderness coastline on the far north of Tasmania's east coast, the Bay of Fires stretches from Eddystone Point in the north to Binalong Bay in the south. Characterised by stunning blue water, fishing lagoons, spotless white sandy beaches and orange lichen covered granite boulders, the area is often mentioned internationally in lists of the world's top beaches. A place of tranquil beauty and one of Tasmania s most popular tourist destinations, this 29-kilometre ribbon of sea, surf and sand is renowned for its island beach culture, cosy cottages and nature walks, not to mention its natural beauty.
If you think Cape Portland is remote, Swan Island is even more so. Off Cape Portland opposite Musselroe Ray, the island is a nature reserve with deserted pristine beaches and clear blue waters. If you like to swim, snorkel, fish, walk, watch seabirds and visit penguin and shearwater rookeries away from the rest of the world, this is the place to do it. Limited accommodation is available at the lighthouse keeper's cottage.
Getting to the Island is an experience in itself, flying via aprivately chartered scenic flight through Flinders Island Aviation. The 20 minute flight operates out of Bridport.
Seal hunting took place here from at least 1805 when a sealing party of nine men were put ashore from the British whaler Ceres. Swan Island has previously been subject to grazing by livestock. Several shipwrecks have been recorded here of vessels passing through Banks Strait; Brenda (1832), Mystery (1850), Union (1852).
Swan Island forms part of the Cape Portland Important Bird Area. Recorded breeding seabird and wader species are little penguin, short-tailed shearwater, Pacific gull, silver gull, sooty oystercatcher, pied oystercatcher, hooded plover, Caspian tern and crested tern. Cape Barren geese also nest on the island. Reptiles present include the metallic skink, White's skink, Bougainville's skink and tiger snake. European rabbits and house mice are present.
Part of the island is privately owned and this section contains an automated lighthouse, several houses and an airstrip. The accommodation offers a unique experience for those seeking the thrill of a totally secluded island where you'll be surrounded by the wildlife, wind and waves, and rugged Tasmanian wilderness. The lodgings are rustic, but the highlight is the spectacular island, including private secluded beaches to enjoy.
The island is a perfect spot for photographers, lighthouse enthusiasts, bush walkers and nature lovers, families and anyone seeking for a secluded holiday. The coastal walk around the island is nothing but spectacular and there are many private secluded beaches to experience along the way.
Swan Island Lighthouse
Built in 1845, the light from tower was the first to be established in Bass Strait being completed before that of Goose Island which had been started earlier. It is now the oldest tower under Federal control, the previous being the oldest being Cape Bruny, though built seven years earlier, has been decommissioned.
The lighthouse is a round masonry tower built with convict labour. Originally painted white with a red lantern room, it is now completely white. The staircase is unique in that it is suspended off the central column where all other Tasmanian Lighthouse staircases are suspended off the tower wall.
Being at the mouth of the Ringarooma and Boobyalla rivers, in the 19th century Boobyalla became the focal point for the influx of miners and the stores they required, and for the export of tin. For many years there was a regular shipping service, including small steamships and sailing vessels. But, like Bridport, Boobyalla declined as a port after the north east railway was built. Little remains of Boobyalla, now a ghost town, as buildings such as the old hotel and houses were either burned down by bushfires or dismantled. Remnants of the old wharf are still visible at the edge of the silted-up Boobyalla River. A single property now owns the whole site with the main house located at the end of former Hurst Street.
Tomahawk is a small seaside town overlooking Bass Strait in the heart of a coastal region characterised by superb beaches, dramatic sand dunes and attractive, isolated countryside. It is an ideal destination for people wishing to escape from the hurly burly and have a peaceful holiday walking on the beach, swimming or fishing.
Tomahawk Beach fronts the small settlement of Tomahawk, with the Tomahawk River Public Reserve between the beach and houses. The Tomahawk Road follows the rear of the reserve with a caravan park located behind the eastern end of the beach and the beach used to launch small boats at high tide. Around the river mouth conditions there is at times a low sand spit and elongated lagoon which forms along the length of the beach.