A WORLD APART, NOT A WORLD AWAY
NEIL GROSE navigates the Apple Isle and its unique boating opportunities…
As an island state, Tasmania lends itself perfectly to boating. In addition to the amazingly diversified coastline, there are myriad freshwater lakes and lagoons which are also ideal for on-water adventures.
Tasmania can essentially be divided into four parts – the relatively sheltered east coast, stretching from Cape Portland in the northeast to the Huon River in the southeast; the rugged and ferocious west coast; the sublime north coast, from Cape Grim across to Cape Portland; and the central highland lakes.
HOBART AND THE DERWENT RIVER
Tasmania’s capital city straddles the mighty Derwent River. The Derwent has an incredibly diverse boating personality – from its origin at Lake St Clair, it flows over 180km to New Norfolk, where the freshwater meets the salt, then extends another 50km downstream and eventually out to sea.
In the upper reaches anglers chase the famous Tasmanian sea run brown trout as well as some of the biggest black bream in Australia, while others prefer water skiing on this great body of water.
Further downstream in Hobart, the Derwent estuary is believed to be the deepest sheltered harbour in the Southern Hemisphere. Here, the river offers sensational sailing and fishing, as well as one of the world’s great art museums – the Museum of Old and New Art.
The Derwent, of course, is also famous as the final leg of the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and attracts tens of thousands of boaters every summer to witness the event’s finish.
The east coast features three very popular destinations – St Helens, in the northeast; Coles Bay, on the mid-east coast; and Eaglehawk Neck in the southeast.
St Helens is the self-styled gamefishing capital of Tasmania. It benefits from the warm East Australian Current (EAC) in summer, bringing four different species of tuna as well as marlin. Georges Bay is a recreational angler’s dream – sheltered water with plenty of great fish, including bream, trevally, salmon, kingfish and more.
Coles Bay is nestled on the western side of the awe-inspiring Hazards – a granite mountain range that has wild ocean on one side and sheltered waters on the other. A haven for cruising boaters and wilderness junkies alike, Coles Bay is a stunning part of Tasmania.
Eaglehawk Neck is entrenched in Tasmania’s convict past, with Port Arthur and its penal relics high on most tourists agenda. It is also home to the most reliable fishing for the massive southern bluefin tuna, which are found very close to the high cliffs. Both the fish and the awe-inspiring cliffs are a highlight for anglers and cruising boaters, providing a magnificent view from the water.
This is one of the most rugged coastlines in the world, with seas often topping 7m. Australia’s highest recorded wave was recorded here in 2011 – a whopping 22m!
Strahan is the hub of the west coast. It provides a sheltered port with some incredible boating options, including a cruise up the Gordon River to the historic Devils Gates.
At the top of the west coast lies the Arthur River, which drains the world-renowned Tarkine Wilderness. Here boaters can easily access the wild west coast waters along, which also produce some of the biggest sea run trout in Tasmania. Fish of 10kg+ are reasonably common.
The north coast is Tasmania’s most populated coastline and offers many inlets and estuaries to explore. The twin inlets either side of The Nut at Stanley hold some great recreational fishing opportunities and the historical port of Stanley is also a popular boating destination.
As the north coast is reasonably sheltered from the tearing sou’westerlies, many cruising boaters – both power and sail – use the north coast and its relatively short distances between ports as a popular cruising destination.
The centre of the north coast is Devonport, where the passenger ferry Spirit of Tasmania has its homeport. The Mersey River here is a delight, with many yachts also calling it home.
Just along the coast is Tasmania’s largest estuary, the Tamar River. From the mouth of the river at George Town, all the way up to Launceston, the Tamar is a cruising boaters delight. There are many small towns and jetties dotted all along the way. It is also home to Tasmania’s famous wine district, as many of the north-facing shores are draped with vineyards.
Tasmania is home to the best wild brown trout fishing in Australia. This area has some massive lakes which all are very well serviced with boating facilities.
Great Lake is the hub, with Arthurs Lake, Little Pine Lagoon and Penstock Lagoon all offering superb boat-based angling – be it trolling, lure casting or fly fishing.
Lower down in altitude are the waters of the Bradys chain of lakes – again well serviced with ramps and other facilities.
Most of these waters are relatively shallow. Great Lake, although 22km long, is just 5m deep at its deepest point.
Lake St Clair, on the other hand, is the deepest lake in the Southern Hemisphere, at 174m deep!
A BOATING PARADISE
Tasmania is extremely well serviced with boating facilities. The government body, Marine and Safety Tasmania, is required to spend all recreational boating registration fees on boating facilities, which means there are no boat ramp fees and facilities are first class.
Offering something for boaters of all persuasions, Tasmania is the boating paradise of Australia.
MOST IMAGES COURTESY: Tourism Tasmania