A quiet, idyllic bay in the far south of Tasmania beyond the Huon Valley. There are a three small settlements on Recherche Bay – Catamaran, Recherche Bay and Cockle Creek. These are the most southern communities in Australia. A signpost at Cockle Creek marks the most southerly point in Australia accessible by motor vehicle. The southern tip of Tasmania, Australia’s southern extremity, which marks the beginning of the South West Walk, is just an hour’s walk away.
Where is it?
80 km south of Southport.
The bay was the first landing place of French explorer Bruny D’Entrecasteaux who came ashore here for water and stayed for a number of weeks in 1792 to rest his crew and complete maintenance on his ships. Coal found on North Point by D’Entrecasteaux was mined by a team of 43 convicts from 1841 to 1848. Mining was abandoned because of seepage in its two shafts due to the mine being so close to sea level.
During the early colonial days, some thirty years after D’Entrecasteaux’s visit, the bay became a centre for whaling (recalled in the Whale Sculpture).
It was also at Recherche Bay that the last iron barque to sail Australia’s shores, the James Craig, now restored and on display in Sydney, NSW, was scuttled at her moorings in 1932. The ship was abandoned on a mooring on the western shore (where the main road is located) just into the top half of the kidney and was left abandoned until 1972.
South West National Park
The magnificent Southwest National Park encompasses over six hundred thousand hectares of wild, inspiring country and forms part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The park, the largest in Tasmania, epitomises the granduer and spirit of wilderness in its truest sense. Much of the park is remote and far removed from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. For many, just the fact that such a place still exists brings solace. For others, the region offers the challenge to explore areas that retain the same wildness that once characterised new frontiers. For yet others, the area offers the chance to view magnificent scenery from the comfort of their car.
In the southeast, the park is accessible from Cockle Creek – the most southerly point able to be reached by road in Australia. From Cockle Creek, the magnificent south coast is able to be reached along a walking track. From the coast, the South Coast Track continues to Melaleuca, a 7 day walk along some of the wildest coastline in Australia. Melaleuca itself is accessible by air or boat only. Here, in the far southwest of Tasmania, lies the spectacular Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour.
Cockle Creek is about 2 hours drive south from Hobart. It is reached via the Huon Highway (A6) through Geeveston. Take the C635 past the Hastings Caves turn off then follow the C636 gravel road through Lune River to Cockle Creek. The last stages of the road beyond Cockle Creek are fairly rough but can be negotiated by 2 wheel drive vehicles. If driving between dusk and dawn, please be aware that you are sharing the road with wildlife.
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South Coast Track
South Coast walking track: this cross country trail passes through the Southwest National Park in Tasmania. The Park is an unforgettable, enormous area of World Heritage wilderness that is remote, ancient, and epic in its proportions. The Roaring Forties lash the park for much of the year, adding to the drama. This walk is recognised as one of the world's great wilderness walks and its reputation is justified. The track takes walkers through the heart of over 600,000 hectares of wild, untouched and challenging country into which, unlike the famous Overland Track, there are no roads. Most people take approximately 6 - 8 days to complete the South Coast Track.
Visit of Bruny D'Entrcasteaux
In the autumn of 1792 a pair of storm-battered French ships, their crews weatherbeaten and tired, dropped grateful anchor in waters off Tasmania’s south-east coast. The ships were Recherche, under command of expedition leader, Rear Admiral Bruni d’Entrecasteaux, and Esperance, under Commander Huon de Kermadec. The peaceful waterway was later named D’Entrecasteaux Channel and the kidney-shaped bay they chose for their rest and repair became known as Recherche Bay. D’Entrecasteaux’s was a high profile dual-purpose expedition. His mission was to search for the lost maritime hero, La Perouse and to undertake top-level scientific research including astronomy and research into the Earth’s geomagnetic field.La Perouse was never found, and neither d’Entrecasteaux nor his ships ever returned to France. But return to Recherche Bay they did. On 22nd January 1793, the two great ships once again dropped anchor on the “very good bottom” of this calm bay. “It is difficult to express the sensations we felt,” wrote the ship’s botanist, Jacques Labillardiere, “at finding ourselves at length sheltered in this solitary harbour at the extremity of the globe, after having been so long driven to and fro in the ocean by the violence of the storms.”
South Cape Bay Walk
This one-day walk takes in part of the famous South Coast Track, beginning at the small town of Cockle Creek on Recherche Bay. Visitors observe native plants and birds as they cross coastal heathland, enjoy ocean views and gaze out over the expanse of the Southern Ocean imagining the distance between themselves and the nearest landmass of Antarctica. A highlight of the walk is South East Cape, which is the southernmost point of the main island of Tasmania, and the most southerly point in Australia to which you can walk - next stop Antarctica! Islands of the Maatsuyker and Pedra Branca island groups, as well as the subantarctic Macquarie Island, lie further south than South East Cape and are also part of the state of Tasmania. South East Cape is one of the Five Southernmost Capes that can be rounded by Southern Ocean sailors. The return walk is about 15kms and despite what the signs say it takes a good 5 hours but it is worth it.
South West Cape
South West Cape lies about 64 km west and 8 km north of South East Cape. It lies on the south-western corner of the Southwest National Park approximately 140 km south of Hobart in Tasmania, and about 65 km west and a little north of South East Cape. It is south of Low Rocky Point and Point Hibbs. Wrecks and foundering of boats up to 500 km away in distance, are usually referred to this cape as an identification point, and mapping of the area usually uses the cape as a boundary between sections of the coast