Australia – Fremantle to Tasmania

 

 

Unless otherwise indicated, this information is based on a cruise in 2007

 

 

Fremantle

 

There are two well lit and well marked approaches to the offshore reef which guards the area of the port of Fremantle. The South Passage, southeast of Rottnest Island is the easier of the two, with a single, clear leading line. Once through this passage, course can be set directly for the Fremantle Harbour breakwater, while watching for ship traffic entering or leaving the Swan River. The Challenger Passage north of Garden Island also has a leading line, but requires further passages through narrow channels to reach the deeper water off the port. The whole area within the reef has patches of shoal water. Care is required. Entrance to the Fremantle Sailing Club (FSC) marina in the Success Boat Harbour is to starboard once just inside the harbour breakwater.

 

Fremantle is effectively the yachting port for the much larger Perth on the north side of the Swan River. There are possible berthing alternatives through local contacts at yacht clubs up the Swan River, but for most arriving cruisers the huge marina at the Fremantle Sailing Club is the natural destination. For those arriving from abroad, there is a customs/quarantine dock in the FSC complex. The officials in Fremantle are used to dealing with yachts. The marina and servicing facilities are comprehensive and excellent, though the complex is so large that it helps to have a bike to get around. Surprisingly, considering its size, the Club’s facilities, though open throughout the daytime, are open in the evenings only for very limited times. There is an open wireless internet connection within the Club building.

 

For short-term berthing there is a visitors’ dock at which boats tie up alongside. We found longer term berthing hard to arrange through the dock master. All the ‘pens’ in the marina are owned/leased and the dock master has no comprehensive information about which are vacant or for how long. By enquiring with knowledgeable club members it is possible to make private arrangements with a pen owner, who is then paid the berthage direct – at least that is what we did. Haul-out and storage ashore are easily arranged.

 

The weather in Fremantle and along this whole coast is dominated by the prevailing south-easterlies, which flow off the Indian Ocean High. However, the Fremantle ‘Doctor’, a strong onshore sea breeze effect which can reach gale force for a time is also a significant factor in the summer. In general, the weather is very pleasant, though temperatures can be hot in the summer, even up to 40’C.

 

It is about 3 kms into the main town of Fremantle and unfortunately it is also some distance, about 2 kms to supermarkets – in the opposite direction. There is a train into Perth from the station in the centre of Fremantle. There is a convenient bike path which runs past the Club most of the way into Fremantle town centre. There are several good second-hand bookshops in the town.

 

As in most of Australia, there are pleasant hikes/bikes to be had along the shore, most of which has been preserved for public access and use. With a car there are also pleasant day trips to the cooler, attractive hill areas to east.

 

A Note about Insurance in Marinas in Australia

 

We found (in 2007) that virtually all marinas in Australia wanted to see proof of third party insurance to 10 million Australian dollars. This is very considerably more than the usual levels provided by Lloyds policies. Bear this in mind if planning a cruise in Australia.

 

 

A Note about ‘Pens’ in Australian Marinas

 

Where there is a limited tidal range, as there is in much of western and southern Australia, many marinas create berths using pilings radiating from a central fixed dock. Yachts moor between the piles. There are usually only short, narrow planks extending out from the central dock to allow boarding. In some cases there is no side access for boarding at all. In many cases at low water, it takes some agility to board, unless special gangway arrangements have been made. As the pens are usually only just wide enough to take a vessel of average beam, they are not easy to enter or leave when there is any significant cross-wind. Local berth holders create complex cats cradles of lines to facilitate entry and exit.

 

 

A Note on Anchoring along the South Coast of Australia

 

All Australian cruisers familiar with this area insist that the only type of anchor to use on this coast is a fisherman with sharply pointed flukes. There are two reasons for this. In many cases, though the holding is good in sand, there is often a hard surface which must be pierced before the anchor will hold. The second reason is that many of the anchorages have heavy weed over the sand. The weed can clog anchors of other types before they have a chance to dig in.

 

Having had experience of anchoring in areas of heavy kelp, we listened to this advice, but then tried our usual anchor system of CQR and heavy chain (3/8ths high test). However, we did add a short length of ½ inch chain immediately behind the anchor, both to give it more ‘bite’ and to cut through the weed. In general, we found this to work satisfactorily, if we set the anchor slowly at first, having given it a few minutes to work its way through the weed. We only had to reset once or twice and never dragged.

 

 

In these notes all positions are those of anchorages, unless otherwise stated.

 

 

Quindalup (S33:37.35/E115:08.15)

 

Sailing south from Fremantle, there are relatively few protected anchorages for deeper draft yachts. Quindalup in Geographe Bay is one and provides a convenient jumping off point to wait for a lull in the south-easterlies to get around Cape Leeuwin. The anchorage is a popular one and often crowded in the summer. Good holding in sand in 3-4metres. There are some loos and water at the campsite ashore, but no other facilities.

 

The area around Cape Leeuwin has numerous offshore dangers and there are no really sheltered anchorages or harbours west of Albany.

 

 

Albany/Princess Royal Harbour

 

Princess Royal Harbour is entered from King George Sound and is a very sheltered, if shallow, land-locked Harbour. For yachts drawing over about 1.8 metres, the only berthing alternative is at the rather rough town dock on the northern side of the Harbour along the waterfront of the town. This is convenient for access to the town, but somewhat exposed. It would also be possible to anchor to the SE of the dock, though this would be exposed in strong winds.

 

There are two other alternatives. Both have relatively shallow approach channels. The Emu Point Marina is approached through the narrow channel on the northern side of King George Sound into Oyster Harbour. We did not visit this marina, but were told that it was very full, mostly with sports fishing vessels. There are possible anchorages within Oyster Harbour, but most of the harbour is shoal water.

 

The Princess Royal Sailing Club is on the southern shore of Princess Royal Harbour. The Club was welcoming, but is open only on a limited basis. Its small marina has a few empty pens, which are fairly rough and ready. Depths may be as little as 1.8 m in the marina and only a little greater in the approach. It is about 10kms around the west of the Harbour to Albany. This is a pleasant bike ride, but a longish hike. The town has all the facilities of a regional centre. There is a petrol station and convenience store about 1km from the Club.

 

There is an excellent museum at Frenchman Bay at the former whaling station. This was the last active whaling centre in Australia.

 

In westerly weather there are several potential secure anchorages in King George Sound.

 

 

Two Peoples Bay (S34:58.15/E118:10.70)

 

Two Peoples Bay is about two miles wide and offers good protection north through west to south. If tucked in to the north or south there is some NEly or SEly protection, though the anchorage would become less comfortable. The Bay is wide-open to the east. Anchorage is in sand with good holding in 3-5 m off the beach. There are rocky areas at the northern and southern ends of the Bay. There are no facilities.

 

 

Waychinicup River (S34:53.69/E118:19.87)

 

This is an anchorage to be approached only in settled weather. The entrance, between huge boulders, is narrow, but deep as there is no bar. However, this entrance should not be approached nor left if there is any significant swell. Once inside, a sharp turn to starboard puts one in shelter. Depths are just over two metres inside for about a cable after the turn, after which depths shoal progressively. The anchorage is relatively narrow. We used a Bahamian moor to stay in the centre of the deeper water. The area around the little river is a reserve and there are likely to be campers ashore. It is possible to go a little way up the river in a dinghy. The anchorage is very attractive despite its daunting entrance. There are no facilities.

 

 

 

 

 

Esperance (S33:51.83/E121:53.81)

 

Esperance is a small town with an active port exporting ore and other bulk cargoes from the mines in the interior. It is also a farming area. Fuel and stores are easily available, as are other basic services.

 

We found the Esperance Bay Yacht Club very welcoming and friendly. It is a very active club at weekends and very family-orientated. There is an anchorage off the Club within the wider protection of the Harbour. This is protected from the west and the prevailing south-easterlies, but is open to the east. Depths in the anchorage are 3-4m. Holding is good in sand.

 

There is also a small marina a little further into the harbour. Use of a pen can be negotiated, but depths are no greater than 2m and the size of the pens would be inadequate for vessels over 12m LOA and 3.7m beam.

 

For those with bikes there is a pleasant route along the coast to the west as far as the pink lake.

 

Esperance is at the western end of the Recherche Archipelago, which offers interesting and attractive cruising options. For the adventurous there are a variety of possible anchorages in settled weather, both among the islands and in the mainland bays.

 

 

Lucky Bay (S34:00.02/E122:14.73)

 

The Bay is open to the SW and is about 1 ½ miles wide. A long and beautiful white sand beach ends at the eastern end among rocks. Like so many out-of-the-way Australian beaches, it is somewhat spoiled by the 4x4’s which range along it. It is the eastern end of the Bay with the added protection of an island that offers the most protected anchorage in about 8 m over sand. There is some surge. There are no facilities.

 

 

Duke of Orleans Bay (S35:55.96/E122:35.40)

 

Duke of Orleans Bay is another 1 ½ mile wide bay open to the east. There are anchorages only 4-5 miles to the south on the western side of Hammer Head, which give protection from the east. The favoured anchorage in Duke of Orleans Bay is at the southern end, tucked behind a small island. There are local moorings which must be avoided. Holding is moderate with weed over sand in 4 m. There are a few houses but no facilities that we could see.

 

 

Middle Island (S34:05.33/E123:12.35)

 

Despite its name, Middle Island is at the eastern end of the Recherche Archipelago to the south of Mount Arid and Arid Bay, which provides an alternative anchorage. At Middle Island, the best anchorages are in the northern bight. During the prevailing summer easterlies, the SE corner is best. In the latter depths are 8-10 m with moderate holding in heavy weed over sand. The anchor needs careful setting. As Middle Island is at the western edge of the Great Australian Bight winds are often fresh to strong.  During westerlies, there is supposed to be a usable anchorage to the east of Goose Island with protection from westerlies.

 

There are infrequent visits by tour boats to bring visitors to see the Island’s pink lake. There are no tracks on the Island but good hiking opportunities with a little bush-bashing. The easy climb to the top of Flinders Peak gives wonderful views not only over the Island and its pink lake, but the whole area. Sadly, when we visited, a lightning strike had caused a bushfire, which had affected a large area in the centre of the island. There are no inhabitants, apart from a few lizards, and no facilities.

 

 

Crossing the Bight

 

Middle Island is a good jumping-off point for a west to east crossing of the Bight. The conventional wisdom is that one should cross west to east in the winter and east to west in the summer. During the winter, there tend to be strong highs over the central Australian desert, which feed westerlies over the Bight. In the summer, these highs drop down into the Bight and feed fresh to strong easterlies along the route across the Bight. In our perverse way we crossed against these easterlies and can confirm the discomfort of a summer crossing west to east.

 

There are reportedly a number of anchorages in open roadsteads along the coast of the Bight. Almost all of these give no significant protection, particularly in the prevailing summer south-easterlies. The only community of any significance along the coast is Ceduna at the eastern end. There is a protected harbour here and other protected anchorages among the neighboring islands. However, if one heads for Ceduna, it is then necessary to beat against the south-easterlies to complete the crossing of the Bight.

 

 

Port Lincoln

 

Port Lincoln, in Spencer Gulf, is a medium-sized town and port. One part of the commercial port is on the north side of Kirton Point, while the BHP ore terminal is in Proper Bay, south of Billy Lights Point. Between the two, in Porter Bay, there is a fishing boat harbour and modern yacht marina with good facilities. There is also a yacht Club in Port Lincoln, which we didn’t visit as it is some distance from the marina along the shore in town. There was space for visitors at the outer dock of the marina, with a sign giving the phone number of the dock master. This outer dock is exposed to wash from passing fishing boats. As in many Australian marinas most berths are owned/leased. Longer stays must be negotiated with berths holders. The town has all the usual facilities.

 

In addition to the commercial port facilities, Port Lincoln is the ‘Tuna Capital of Australia’. The Great Australian Bight abounds in blue fin tuna. These are netted and very slowly dragged back to Port Lincoln, where they are put in huge pens to be fattened prior to sale. Thus their original quota value is doubled or trebled by this ‘tuna ranching’.

 

 

Whalers Bay, Thistle Island (S35:00;30/E136:10.94)

 

This is a pleasant anchorage in settled weather, with protection from SW through S to SE. Holding is good in sand in 7 m. The anchorage is overlooked by a number of holiday homes on the heights above, but there are no facilities.

 

For those with the time to explore them, there are a number of anchorages in Spencer Gulf and the Gulf of St. Vincent, on the mainland, the Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. Relatively few anchorages give all-round protection. Tidal streams in the area can be quite strong.

 

 

Port Adelaide, North Haven

 

There are several berthing options in Port Adelaide. However, so far as we could gather there are two which are most often used by visitors. The Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron marina is located on the south side of the Port Adelaide River, a short distance up-river from the entrance. We did not visit this club, but had good reports of its welcome to visitors from others.

 

The marina and club-house of the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia (CYCSA) are located in the North Haven Harbour, one mile SE of the entrance to the Port Adelaide River. The marina is to starboard once inside the entrance of the harbour. There is another private marina to port. We found the CYCSA, its members and officers to be outstandingly welcoming. The Club has excellent facilities. All marine facilities are available locally.

 

Though the centre of Port Adelaide is some distance away, there was a supermarket and other shopping within easy walking distance. For those with bikes Port Adelaide is an easy bike ride away. There is a light railway line to Adelaide itself. The summer weather in Adelaide is generally pleasant, but when the wind goes northerly from the central desert temperatures can exceed 40’C.

 

 

American River, Kangaroo Island (S35:47.37/E137:46.49)

 

American River on the north-eastern coast of Kangaroo Island is a convenient jumping off point for the sail through Backstairs Passage. The anchorage area has numerous local moorings and space for anchoring is limited. The river is strongly tidal and there are unmarked shoals. Considerable care would be required in anchoring. If coming from Adelaide it may useful to enquire whether anyone has a mooring available, as some club members do. We borrowed a mooring in this way. We didn’t go ashore, but there are limited facilities available.

 

The tides run strongly through Backstairs Passage between Kangaroo Island and the mainland. It is wise to carry a fair tide when beating down the Passage in the prevailing south-easterlies. However, be prepared for unpleasant seas in wind over tide conditions.

 

 

Port Fairy

 

Apart from the heavily industrial harbour at Portland there are few anchorages or harbours on the coast running SE from Backstairs Passage. However, Port Fairy is accessible to vessels drawing no more then 1.8 m. The offshore approach is marked by a small red buoy (S38:23.03/142:15.26). The entrance channel has depths mostly greater then 2 m, though there are patches which may be slightly less. The entrance should not be approached if there is any significant SEly swell. Once inside the entrance there is complete protection in the narrow, very attractive harbour. It is possible to tie up alongside the harbour wall on the west side or make enquiries about the use of a pen on the east side where local yachts are moored. The harbour shoals rapidly toward the bridge at the northern end.

 

There is a small supermarket and petrol station from which fuel can be obtained in cans. The significantly larger town of Warrnambool is 30 kms to the east along the coast by road.

 

 

Grassy Harbour, King Island (S40:03.87/E144:03.71)

 

The Harbour is on the SE side of King Island and therefore protected from the westerlies, unlike the very shallow, small and congested harbour at Currie on the west side. However, there is no room to anchor in the inner harbour at Grassy and all moorings are privately owned. It is essential to make prior contact with the King Island Fisherman’s Coop, which may be able to make a mooring available. It may be possible to anchor in the more exposed outer harbour. Access to the inner harbour is straight-forward, though depths in the northern half of the inner harbour are limited. Large areas of both the inner and outer harbour must be kept clear for the weekly ferry.

 

There are a few facilities in the village of Grassy, 10 kms from the harbour. The main village on the Island is at Currie on the west side of the island 35 kms away. With patience it is possible to get between the two by a combination of hiking and hitching. The famous King Island Dairy cheese factory, 20 kms to the north of Currie, is well worth a visit. The Island has attractive, rolling, agriculture scenery, the greenery of which is a relief after the unrelievedly parched scenery of much of the rest of southern Australia.

 

Whether heading NE to Port Philip and Melbourne, E to northern Tasmania or SE to the west coast of Tasmania, tidal streams are quite strong throughout the area. In addition, with westerly swells running into relatively shallow water, seas can be heavy. In Spring and Autumn depressions often tend to run through Bass Strait, bringing strong cyclonic winds which further stir the cauldron.

 

 

 

The information which follows is based on experience during 2001

 

 

Port Philip Entrance (S38:17.75/E144/37.75)

 

‘The Rip’ is the narrow entrance to the large open expanse of Port Philip. As its name suggests, tides flow extremely strongly through this narrow channel, passage through which is further complicated by several shallow banks, which can build up heavy seas in adverse conditions. It is unwise to approach The Rip in strong SWlies when the offshore bank will build up big seas, especially on the ebb. Ideally passage should be made at slack tide or very near it. There are a series of leading lines to be followed for the best line through The Rip.

 

Just beyond Shortland Bluff, on which stand the various lighthouses for the leading lines, on the port hand, is the entrance to Queenscliff. Vessels drawing 2 m or less can enter here in the top half of the tide through a shallow channel along a leading line. Though the small harbour has limited room to manoeuvre, there is generally room on piles for visitors, at the Queenscliffe Cruising Yacht Club. Queenscliff is a pleasant resort town, with some facilities.

Continuing into Port Philip, there are several channels to choose from. The best marked are the West and South Channels. The latter is intended for large commercial traffic. The West Channel is the most direct for those heading to Melbourne. With a careful series of waypoints, the unmarked but well charted Symonds Channel is also usable with care.

 

Geelong is a major industrial city and port in the western lobe of Port Philip. The Royal Geelong Yacht Club and its marina are located on the southern shore of the port. Geelong is 70-80 kms from Melbourne by road. We have no personal experience of the facilities available.

 

 

Melbourne

 

Depending on your prejudices, Melbourne is, in importance, either the second or first city of Australia. There is plenty to see and do. Though it can be hot in summer, the climate is generally more temperate than Adelaide and less humid than Sydney.

 

From a yachting point of view, all facilities are available, but as in most big cities they are widely spread along the considerable coastline of northern Port Philip. There are a number of yacht clubs and marinas which may be able to offer berthing for visitors. These are mostly along the eastern shore south of the city. Though they are further from town, the two which may be most likely to welcome visitors, are the Royal Brighton and the Sandringham Yacht Clubs, both of which have marinas and good facilities. There is a light railway system, which gives easy access to the city. All the suburbs have excellent shopping and other facilities.

 

Though Western Port to the east of Port Philip is largely industrial and commercial, there is also a large marina at Hastings. We have no detailed information about it.

 

 

Refuge Cove (39:02.30/E146:28.00) (Entrance)

 

For those part-way through Bass Strait when the weather turns nasty, Refuge Cove on Wilsons Promontory lives up to its name. It is open only to a direct easterly and gives excellent protection and good holding in 5-7 m in all other conditions. There are NW and SW lobes in the cove and it may be necessary to shift from one to the other when a really strong front comes through. There are several other coves on the Promontory which would offer anchorages in more settled conditions.

 

There is a separation scheme for large commercial traffic off Wilsons Promontory. There is an inshore zone which can be used by smaller traffic moving either east or west.

 

 

The Kent Group of Islands

 

This group in the middle of the Bass Strait is composed of Erith, Dover and Deal Islands, the latter being the largest. The islands are uninhabited apart from a volunteer keeper of the museum and the old (inactive) lighthouse on Deal. There are also large numbers of very tame wallabies. There are several coves on the seaward sides of the islands which could be explored as day anchorages in settled conditions. Both West Cove and East Cove, on either side of Murray Pass give reasonable shelter, however, they are both scoured by strong tides and the treeless hillsides give only moderate shelter with fair holding in the strong winds which occur regularly in the Bass Strait. To add to the mix, the islands can experience mist and/or fog.

 

The Group is a fascinating place for a visit, but only in fairly settled conditions. The volunteer caretakers are likely to welcome a visit, especially if you can bring some treat to enliven their diet, by the way of food or drink or both.

 

 

Macquarie Harbour (S42:12.00/E145:13.10) (Entrance)

 

For those heading down the west coast of Tasmania, there are only two choices for real shelter. The most northerly of these is Macquarie Harbour. The entrance through Hells Gates is narrow and swept by very strong tides. It should not be approached in strong W to NW winds, when the entrance would be dangerous. In any case, it is best approached near slack tide. Least depths in the channel marked by the leading lines are around 4 m.

 

Once inside, Macquarie Harbour offers an excellent miniature cruising ground. The small fishing port and holiday town of Strahan (pronounced ‘Strawn’ locally) is at the northern end of the Harbour. It offers most basic facilities for fuel and stores, as well as some other services. There are reasonable depths and good holding in mud in both the eastern and north-western lobes of the harbour.  The latter is better protected in stronger westerlies, but is a little further from the town.

 

Other anchorages within the Harbour include Double Cove, Pine Cove and Farm Cove. The first of these has the best all round protection and the best holding. In addition it is possible in settled weather to anchor off Sarah Island. This was a penal settlement during the 19th century, used as the ‘ultimate’ punishment, short of death, for those too naughty for Port Arthur. It is an interesting place to visit, though not anywhere near the superb standard of Port Arthur, even taking account of its smaller scale.

 

 

Gordon River

 

The jewel of Macquarie Harbour is the Gordon River, which empties into the Harbour’s southern end. The River and surrounds has been declared a World Heritage Site and so is something of a tourist attraction. However, the tour boats only run during the middle of the day and go no further than 6 miles up the river to the landing and boardwalk area which have been placed in the surrounding woodland specifically for tourists. Of more concern to masted yachts are the float-planes which take wealthier tourists further up the River and often fly at about lower spreader height around bends in the river, creating interesting right-of-way situations.

 

The continued availability of the Gordon River is a tribute to the early environmental movement. It had been planned to dam the Gordon for a hydroelectric scheme. It was the last of the major Tasmanian rivers remaining unblocked. However, widespread protests brought about a change of mind and the river was preserved in its current pristine state.

 

The river is truly beautiful and it is possible to take a deep-draft vessel some 20 miles up river as far as Warner’s Landing. Just beyond the Landing is Big Eddy, a set of rapids whose ferocity varies with the amount of flow in the river. In a relatively dry season it is possible take a dinghy with outboard up through these rapids and the less active ones which follow. We went as far as the lower reaches of the Franklin River. After this progress becomes more difficult if there is not much water in the rivers in the summer months. For yachts carrying kayaks a long day trip would be possible.

 

We persuaded the local charter skipper to part with one of his sketch maps of the river, which we found a reliable guide if used sensibly.

 

 

 

The information which follows is based on experience in both 2001 and 2007

 

 

Port Davey (S43:20.45/E145:57.85)(South Passage Entrance)

 

(See Annie Hill’s detailed remarks in ‘Roving Commissions 2008’)

 

Port Davey is the second accessible cruising ground moving south down the west coast of Tasmania. Though the chart shows areas which are ‘unsurveyed’ in the approaches, in fact, entrance to the north or south of Breaksea Island is relatively straightforward in settled weather. In heavier conditions, the somewhat wider southern passage would be best. Breaksea Island is as effective as its name implies in protecting the Bathurst Channel and the various coves to the east.

 

There are no facilities in Port Davey apart from an airstrip in Melaleuca Inlet which services charter flights of small aircraft from Hobart.

 

 

Note that the detailed charts we could find of Port Davey for the Bathurst Channel and Bathurst Harbour are not WGS 84 datum. For this reason no anchorage waypoints are given.

 

 

Bramble Cove

 

Bramble Cove is about 1 mile inside Breaksea Island. The entrance of the Cove is about 1/2 a mile wide and the cove itself about ¾ of a mile. Potential anchoring depths vary 3-10 m in good holding. The anchorage is open to the west for about 2 miles to Breaksea Island and there may be some surge in heavy swell outside. The best protection from the west is tucked behind Sarah Island, though this area can be kelpy. Fishing boats regularly use Bramble Cove. There is a track from the northern side of the cove for the hike up Mount Misery, from which there are wonderful views over the area, on a clear day.

 

 

Wombat Cove

 

This narrow cove is entered to the east of Hammond Point. It is protected from anything except very strong SWlies. Holding is very good in mud in 3-7 m. However, swinging room is limited. We found it best to take a stern line to a tree on the eastern shore, which is steep-to.

 

 

 

 

 

Schooner Cove

 

(See details from Annie Hill’s remarks) Reputedly this cove suffers from severe williwaws in strong SWlies.

 

 

Casilda Cove

 

To reach Casilda Cove, enter Horseshoe Inlet to the west of Pim Point and Balmoral Hill. The approach is generally clear until the turn in the Inlet, where a mid-channel rock must be avoided. The anchorage is immediately to starboard after the turn. There is no swinging room and it is essential to drop the anchor in mid-stream and take stern lines to trees on the western shore. These trees give excellent protection. This is the best anchorage in Port Davey to sit out a spell of really heavy weather from the west. There is a nice hike up Balmoral Hill.

 

 

Claytons’ Corner

 

Once through the Narrows in the Bathurst Channel, Bathurst Harbour opens out. Following the shore to the south between the mainland and the Celery Top Islands brings one to Clayton’s Corner immediately west of the Islands. There is a landing stage on the northern shore used by some charter boats. There is also a DOC hut used by hikers. Water is available from the rainwater tank, though use of this should be sparing if the season is dry. There is a hiking track to Mount Beattie.

 

Though protected from the west, the anchorage here has poor holding and should only be used in settled conditions. In our experience the holding generally in Bathurst Harbour was poor, with thin mud over rock, which did not allow the firm setting of the anchor.

 

 

Melaleuca Inlet

 

(See Annie Hill’s detailed remarks) There are timber stages on the eastern shore at the head of the Inlet to which it is convenient to moor. Anchoring would be difficult . There is a DOC centre from which it is possible to view the rare and endangered orange-bellied parrots.

 

 

 

Passage, Port Davey to Recherche Bay

 

This passage takes one around another of the great southern capes. In settled weather the scenery along the coast is very striking. The passage west to east is generally quicker and easier then the reverse, given the prevailing westerlies here. With good weather the passage is one long day or one over-night sail. Bramble Cove and Recherche Bay (pronounced ‘research’ locally) are convenient jumping-off points at either end.

 

 

Recherche Bay (S43:33.82/E146:55.18) (Entrance)

 

(See Annie Hill’s detailed remarks about Coalbins, which we would agree is the best anchorage in Recherche.) We have also had good reports from another cruiser of the protection in The Pigsties in the northern part of the Bay. The entrance is narrow and has a mid-channel rock, but once negotiated there is plenty of room south of the fish farms with good holding in mud in 7m.

 

 

 

The D’Entrecasteaux Channel

 

From Recherche Bay to the northern end of Bruny Island, between that Island and the mainland of Tasmania, runs the D’Entrecasteaux Channel – or just ‘The Channel’, as it is known locally. It is named after the 18th century French explorer, Bruni d’Entrecasteaux. This is an outstanding cruising area, with numerous sheltered anchorages, very attractive scenery and a few villages with some facilities. There are large numbers of fish farms, which somewhat detract from the scenery in some areas of the Channel, however they are a small price to pay for its attractions.

 

 

Southport(S43:26.13/E146:58.29)

 

Southport offers well protected anchorage from NE through W to S. Once past the kelp on the outer part of the Bay, anchorage can be taken almost anywhere along the shore depending on the conditions. The most convenient anchorage is west of the public dock in 3-4 m over sand in good holding. In strong SWlies better protection may be found in the Deep Hole, though this is not really very deep. From the dock it is about a 2km walk up the road to a small convenience store and petrol station. At the right season there are lots of blackberries to be had along the road.

 

 

Mickeys Bay(S43:25.85/E147:10.47) (Entrance)

 

Mickeys is a branch of Great Taylors Bay on the west side of Bruny Island. There is protection from N through E to S. Holding is good, 3-4m in mud. There is access ashore to the road which leads to the historic lighthouse on Cape Bruny, the second oldest in Australia.

 

 

Port Esperance(S43:20.42/E147:03.67) (Entrance)

 

(See Annie Hill’s detailed remarks on the Rabbit Island anchorage.) Though the anchorage behind Rabbit Island is the best in the Bay, it is also possible to find anchorage off Kent Beach on the north side of the Bay, clear of the local moorings. There is little room to anchor closer to the wharf. The small town of Dover has some facilities.

 

 

Port Cygnet (Gardners)(S43:10.71/E147:05.13)

 

(See Annie Hill’s detailed remarks on the Copper Alley anchorage.) In addition to Copper Alley, Port Cygnet offers easterly protection in Deep Bay and there is plenty of room to anchor outside the local moorings in Gardners toward the head of the bay off the public slipway on the western shore. Holding is good in 10m over mud. This anchorage is convenient for access to the village, which has a small supermarket and petrol station, as well as a few other shops and a bank. There is internet access at the community centre.

 

 

Port Huon(S43:09.54/E146:58.33)

 

A well protected anchorage can be found in 4-6m over mud outside local moorings to the west of the large commercial dock on the northern shore. There is water on the dock. There are no other facilities. For those with bikes it is an easy bike to Huonville, which has good shopping. (See Annie Hill’s detailed remarks about the Huon River and Huonville.) Another reason for going up the river is to visit the Tasmania’s Wooden Boat Centre, at Franklin, which is a wooden boat building and training ‘school’. In the other direction along the road is Geeveston, a longish walk or easy bike away. The Forestry centre at Geeveston has interesting displays.

 

 

Kettering

 

Kettering, on Oyster Bay, is the port of departure for the ferry to Bruny Island. It is also a busy yachting centre for those who prefer to keep their boats in ‘The Channel’ rather than in Hobart. There are two small marinas. Oyster Cove Marina at the western end of the harbour has limited depth. South Haven Marina, on the south shore next to the ferry terminal has a minimum of 2.5 m in most of its pens. Space is limited and short-term visitors may have to lie alongside the timber outer wall. There are numerous local moorings and no space to anchor. There is a small convenience store and petrol station on the road which runs past the head of the Bay. Hobart is about 30 kms away by road.

 

 

Barnes Bay

 

There are several potential anchorages in the various coves of Barnes Bay. However, the best and most sheltered of these is undoubtedly The Duck Pond. (See Annie Hill’s detailed remarks.) Much of the Duck Pond is shoal, so there is limited room, but depth is only 3m, so swinging room is not a problem. Access to the road ashore is easy, for hikes or bikes through the pretty Bruny Island countryside.

 

 

Hobart

 

Though the smallest of the Australian state capitols, Hobart has all the facilities one would expect of a small city and port, including those for yachts. Short-term visitors normally berth in Constitution Dock in the city centre unless arriving in late December or early January, when the Sydney-Hobart fleet is in residence or in early February when the Wooden Boat Festival is held. The dock is entered through a narrow channel under a lifting bridge. Call Port Control on VHF for access. Constitution dock offers perfect protection and the convenience of immediate access to the city. It can be a bit noisy on weekend evenings when the pubs turn out. For smaller vessels it may be convenient to tie up to a larger one already moored to the wall. There are washing and laundry facilities a short walk away. The Dock is run by the port authority. The administration of the Dock is somewhat bureaucratic, but charges are reasonable.

 

For longer term berthing there are a variety of options. However, long-term berthing in Hobart is at a premium. When we arrived in April 2007, we initially could find nothing at all available despite the five marinas in the area. There are marinas on the west bank of the Derwent: just outside Constitution Dock in Sullivans Cove, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT) and the Derwent Sailing Squadron (DSS), both the latter in Sandy Bay. All berths in all three of these marinas are privately leased. Both the RYCT and the DSS are very welcoming and helpful, with haul-out facilities. However, long-term berthing is difficult. The situation is much the same at the Bellerive and Motor Yacht Clubs on the eastern shore.  We eventually found a berth for the winter at the RYCT, where it is worth becoming an overseas member, for the reduction in rates.

 

Several of the coves on both banks of the Derwent above the Tasman Bridge have room to anchor in appropriate conditions, but access to the shore is not always convenient and security may be a problem.

 

Hobart is probably the best base in Australia for coastal cruising for those with limited holiday time, which is why a significant number of owners from other Australian cities base their boats there.

 

 

 

Hobart to Wineglass Bay

 

There are a large number of good anchorages throughout this attractive area. As the name Storm Bay indicates, weather can be volatile, but distances between anchorages are relatively short. From Hobart, cruising northward, yachts drawing more than 1.8m must head south of the Tasman Peninsula. However, those drawing less than 1.8m have the option of cutting through Blackman’s Bay (see below), though this route misses out Port Arthur, one of the best and most interesting museum sites we have ever visited.

 

 

Nubeena/Parsons Bay(S43:06.09/E147:44.26)

 

This Bay on the western coast of the Tasman Peninsula offers excellent protection. Anchor north of the local moorings in 8-10m over mud. The holding is good. There is water available on the dock, but no other facilities.

 

 

Dunalley/Blackman Bay

 

The Denison Canal at Dunalley gives access to Blackman Bay, through which there is a winding and shallow, but marked, channel which exits into Marion Bay north of the Forestier Peninsula. This very significantly shortens the trip north for those heading that way. In theory the channel should allow passage to vessels drawing up to 2m, but we found short stretches where depths were less than 2m. The exit channel is particularly difficult to find. If there is any significant northerly swell running, the exit channel would be extremely difficult or impossible to pass. We would not use this route except in settled conditions.

 

Access to the Denison Canal from the south is through a swing bridge. It is wise to find out beforehand from locals, current information about contacting the bridge keeper by phone or VHF. Do not approach the bridge until it is fully open. The tide flows strongly through the canal. When we passed through, the bridge keeper passed us a current sketch map of the channel in a can on the end of a stick. If you are motoring with the tide under, you must be quick and agile to snatch up the map before you are past!

 

 

 

 

Port Arthur/Stewarts Bay(S43:08.22/E147:51.45)

 

Though the anchorage in Port Arthur off Commandant’s Point gives the most immediate access to Port Arthur (see Annie Hill’s detailed remarks), it is not the most protected anchorage in the harbour. Stewarts Bay north of Frying Pan Point is surrounded by trees and gives excellent protection. Holding is good in sand in 7m. If there is a really big southerly swell outside there may be a little surge in the bay.

 

Access to the road ashore is easy. There is a small supermarket and petrol station about 2 km up the road. The entrance to the Port Arthur site from the road is a little further. There are also several pleasant short walks through the surrounding bush.

 

We found the Port Arthur museum and site fascinating – as it clearly is to many Aussies, who visit in huge numbers. It is the most visited historical site in Australia. The buildings have been beautifully conserved and there is excellent information. It is well worth a visit.

 

 

Canoe Cove/Fortescue Bay(S43:07.58/E147:57.31)

 

Fortescue Bay is entered between the Lanterns and Cape Nola. Though there are other potential anchorages in the Bay, the best protection is in Canoe Cove in the NW corner. Here a grounded wreck gives extra protection from any swell which might enter the wider bay. There is only room for two or three boats. During the summer a tour boat has placed a mooring toward the head of the Bay which somewhat restricts anchoring room. If necessary we found we could take a stern line to a tree on the NW shore to stay clear of other boats. Holding is good in 4-5m over sand.

 

There are several hiking tracks in the area. Probably the most interesting goes right out toward the Lanterns through varied bush and terrain. It takes a good part of a day and requires moderate fitness.

 

 

Maria Island/Chinaman’s Bay(S42:39.61/E148:02.70)

 

Maria Island is mostly reserve, though there are one or two farms and a small number of tourist facilities near the ferry dock at the northwest corner of the Island. There are a number of hiking tracks. The island was a penal settlement in the 19th century.

 

In settled weather, it is possible to anchor almost anywhere in Shoal Bay. Depending on the wind direction the northern or southern ends offer suitable protection except for strong Wlies. Chinaman’s Bay at the northern end offers the easiest access to tracks to explore Maria Island. There is good holding in 3-4m over sand.

 

 

Spring Bay/Triabunna(S42:31.55/E147:54.71)

 

The head of the bay is shoal for a considerable distance and there is an extensive shoal on the east side, with a somewhat smaller shoal to the west. There are some posts which help mark these, but care is needed as the shallows are steep-to. There are some local moorings to be avoided. There is good holding in mud in 8m. The bay gives excellent protection in virtually all conditions, except perhaps very strong southerlies.

 

The village of Triabunna is reached up a channel marked by stakes. There are basic services, a small supermarket, hardware store, petrol station and water on the dock.

 

 

Bryans Corner , Cooks Corner & Schouten Island

 

Bryans Corner on the south side of Weatherhead Point and Cooks Corner on its north, offer pleasant anchorages in settled weather, as does Carpenters Cove on the north shore of Schouten Island. In all three there is good holding in sand in moderate depths from winds in appropriate directions. Unfortunately in settled summer weather, the daily winds, which can be quite fresh, shift from north to south and back. The resulting ‘Schouten Shuffle’ between these three anchorages is part of local cruiser lore.

 

Wineglass Bay(S42:10.48/E148:18.55)

 

Wineglass Bay is one of the most beautiful anchorages in Australia. The long, white sand beach is juxtaposed with the crags of The Hazards to the north and Mount Graham to the south. Though the Bay is wide open to the east, there is a sheltered hook at the southern end where there is good holding in sand in 3-5m. This anchorage can be very crowded in summer. There are no facilities, though there is a campsite ashore. There are hiking tracks up both The Hazards and Mount Graham.

 

 

 

Double Bay/Eden(S37:04.70/149:57.00) (Entrance)

 

The port of Eden is the only harbour providing good shelter on the SE corner of mainland Australia and is a natural jumping off point for a cruise in Tasmania. It is often in the news during rough Sydney–Hobart races when yachts which have retired pull in, bruised and battered. The town has the usual facilities of a small port. Though it may be possible to tie up to one of the port jetties, more commonly visitors anchor clear of the local moorings to the west in Snug Cove. About 1 mile further west just beyond the small breakwater at Murrumbulga Point there are two or three visitors moorings, which are available for use for one day – or until someone else comes along. There is access to the shore at the sailing club and a short walk into town.

 

Tom and Vicky Jackson, ‘Sunstone’