Burnie: Along the Shore
Wivenhoe Beach extends east of the shallow river mouth for 1.3 km to the rocky base of 225 m high Round Hill. The beach is relatively straight and narrow with a 100 m wide low tide terrace and a few rock flats towards the eastern end. A seawall has been constructed in front of the Naval Reserve building towards the centre of the beach, while the remainder is backed by a narrow reserve, the highway and then South Burnie. There are currently no services provided by Surf Life Saving Australia for this beach.
South Burnie Beach
South Burnie Beach
South Burnie Beach commences on the eastern side of the rock jetty and trends to the east-southeast for 750 m to the sandy mouth of the Emu River. The low gradient beach is narrow at high tide widening to a 100 m wide low tide terrace at low tide, with the river draining across the western end. It is backed by a vegetated reserve, with parking at the western end adjacent to the jetty.
Burnie town centre is located on low ground in lee of Parsonage and Blackman Points, with the port in lee of Blackman Point. Wharfs and breakwaters extend nearly 1 km east of Blackman Point providing more shelter and anchorage for shipping. Today the port and its facilities form the eastern boundary of Burnie, while West Beach forms the northern.
West Beach is located adjacent to the main business area and is backed by both a road and railway line. Wedged in between the railway and the sand is a reserve containing the Burnie Surf Life Saving Club, which was established in 1921, a large elongate car park, playground and picnic facilities. The beach is composed of medium sand, which combines with the usually low waves to produce a moderately steep narrow high tide beach, which widens up to 100 m at low tide. West Beach is relatively safe under normal low wave conditions, with best swimming at mid to high tide. However care must be taken to avoid the rocks at both ends and in the centre, and during higher waves when there is a heavy shorebreak.
West Beach towards Parsonage Point
A fairy penguin colony is located on Parsonage Point at the end of West Beach and the boardwalk, behind the Makers' Workshop and University of Tasmania facility. Burnie's Little Penguin Observation Centre overlooks the nesting area. From the Centre and surrounding boardwalk, it is possible to view little penguins each night around dusk, particularly between the months of October to March.
During those months, volunteer guides are on hand and point out the penguins with their special torches, as well as provide any information not found on the informative display panels at the Little Penguin Observation Centre. The winds blowing off Bass Strait can be quite cold at nights, so be sure to wear clothing that will protect you from the wind. The boardwalk is wheelchair and children friendly.
On the western side of Parsonage Point is a skate park. Beyond Parsonage Point is the suburb of Parklands which spreads out along the narrow strip of coastline. The foreshore is very rocky with few places to swim, but it has a walking path following the shore which is very popular. For something different you can also walk along the single line of abandoned railway track beside the walkway. The line was closed over a decade ago so there is no chance of being skittled by a train.
Cooee Beach commences at the reef-tied foreland and curves to the east for 600 m to the base of the low Cooee Point, which protrudes 300 m seaward. It is a sandy high tide beach, paralleled by a 50 m wide band of mid tide sand, then 50-100 m wide low tide rock flats, with sandy sea floor beyond. A grassy reserve backs the beach, with car parking at the eastern end, and the highway and Cooee township behind. There are currently no services provided by Surf Life Saving Australia for this beach.
Camdale beach commences at the reef-tied point that forms the eastern boundary of the 50 m wide Cam River entrance. The beach initially protrudes in lee of the reef and then curves to the east for 1.4 km to the next reef-tied foreland. Inter tidal rock reefs dominate the western half of the beach, with a 100 m wide low tide bar along the eastern half then the boundary reef. A narrow grassy reserve paralleling the highway backs the beach. There are currently no services provided by Surf Life Saving Australia for this beach.
Somerset Beach is narrow at high tide with a sandy low gradient mid tide, grading at low tide into two sandy channels bordered by inter tidal rock flats. Waves depend on wind conditions, with low wave to calm conditions during westerlies, but higher waves during onshore and easterly conditions. The entire beach is backed by a coastal reserve, with sporting facilities located at the wider western end, then Somerset road and township. The Somerset Surf Life Saving Club is located towards the east end of the beach where sand delivered by the river spreads out over the rock flats and forms a low tide ridge. The Anzac Park picnic area is located across the road from the surf club.
Doctors Rocks is a small rocky headland of basalt on the beachfront near where Seabrook Creek enters Bass Strait, behind which an escarpment rises to the north west coast plateau. The terrain forced early road builders to construct a narrow roadway behind the rocks that was the scene of many serious accidents before modern vehicular traffic forced major earth-moving and re-siting of the main road further away from the rocks.
Doctors Rocks protrude 100 metres north from the shore rising to 20 metres in height. A beach extends for 300 metres west of the rocks to the junction of the old and new Bass highways, with the old railway paralleling the rear of the beach and a narrow vegetated reserve between it and the shore. Doctors Rocks was named after Dr Thomas Wilson who lived at the rocks. For many years he served the community between Circular Head and Burnie.
In addition to basalt, several trace minerals occur on the site including gold, the presence of which has attracted gold panners for decades. Gold and rare Osmiridium can still be panned on the foreshore in various places toward Wynyard at low tide, and appears to derive from the tillite.
The Doctors Rocks Conservation area is home to a significant number of little penguins with large groups on the immediate west and eastern sides of Doctors Rocks itself and smaller pockets of penguins along the whole conservation reserve. The Little Penguins have no difficulty in traversing over the rocky terrain to get to their nesting areas, but significant numbers utilize the sandy beaches as access points from the water to the foreshore nesting area. The locality is Wynyard’s premier spot to capture a Tasmanian sunset.