Port Davey

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Port Davey
43°18.252'S, 145°56.790'E Chart icon.png
lat=-43.304194 | lon=145.946503 | zoom=11 | y
Port Davey.jpg
Port Davey - SW Tasmania

Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour together provide a large, world class, temperate cruising ground. These two areas lie in the middle of Tasmania's World Heritage South West National Park.

Access is a challenge as the south and west coasts of Tasmania are fully exposed to the Southern Ocean. To the west, there is no land until you reach Argentina, to the south, the next land is Antarctica. There are few civilised facilities in the area and no permanent residents. There are no roads, although there is an unsealed airstrip at Melaleuca. Several walking tracks converge on this area, but the walk back to civilisation takes up to a week.

There is an excellent selection of anchorages spread around the shores of Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour and these provide great opportunities to explore the surrounding wilderness.

Port Davey is a large bay, mostly open to the west and experiencing the full effect of the westerly swell, but there are sheltered bays around the edge which provide sheltered anchorage.

The Breaksea Islands provide a natural barrier which shields the Bathurst Channel from the swell and this channel has numerous excellent anchorages along its length.

After 8 miles, Bathurst Channel opens out into Bathurst Harbour, a large inland waterway. The Harbour is quite shallow at around 5 or 6 metres, but mostly free from dangers. There are several good, interesting anchorages around the Harbour.

Melaleuca Inlet lies in the SW corner of Bathurst Harbour and can be navigated (with care) by most vessels for 3 miles to the settlement of Melaleuca where the airstrip is situated.

Because these waterways are within a World Heritage Area and National Park, there are some restrictions on anchoring, use of motors, diving and fishing. These are not onerous and those who sail with a clean wake will not be troubled by them.

Boats visiting this area should be prepared to be self sufficient in fuel, food and spares for an extended period of time. Good water is available from several sources. There is no guarantee that a suitable weather window for return along the south coast will be available when needed, so all vessels should carry an adequate reserve of supplies.

Note that there are strong tidal flows in Bathurst Channel, especially in those areas that are particularly narrow.

The whole area is a national park. No pets are allowed - no dogs, no cats.

Parks and Wildlife Tasmania – Map of allowable anchorage areas and motorized craft limits


See Tasmania.


Port Davey lies fully exposed to the Roaring Forties, with all that implies. Easterly weather can be very pleasant, but southerly changes can be sudden and violent, with gale or storm force winds and very limited visibility.

Sea breezes tend to blow from the west and can be strong from noon on.

Sources for Weather forecasts:

  • Weather forecasts are provided several times a day by Tas Maritime Radio on HF and VHF frequencies. There are VHF base stations on Maatsuyker Island and Elliot Range which broadcast on channel 68 and 67 at 0745, 1345 and 1733. Reception of these channels in the Port Davey / Bathurst Harbour varies with your location and may depend on the height of your aerial. Clear line of sight through to Maatsuyker provides best reception. Forecasts are broadcast on MF/HF frequencies 2524, 4146 and 6227 kHz at the same times as VHF.
  • Tasmanian coastal waters forecasts are also broadcast on HF by the Bureau of Meteorology through station VMC at 0230, 0630, 1030, 1430, 1830 and 2230 hrs EST (add one hour during summer time) on frequencies 2201, 6507, 8176 and 12365 kHz between 1800 and 0700 hrs EST, and 4426, 8176, 12365 and 16546 kHz between 0700 and 1800 hrs EST.


See Tasmania.


See Tasmania.


  • Tas Maritime Radio monitors VHF channel 16 (Maatsuyker Island and Elliot Range) which is accessible from much of Port Davey. Tas Maritime Radio also monitors HF frequencies 2524, 4125, 6215 and 8291 from 0700 - 1900 daily. VHF Channel 16 is monitored for distress traffic only from 1900-0700.

Also see Australia.


South West Cape

There is no simple way to get to Port Davey.

Most Tasmanian cruisers start from Recherche Bay, from which it is a 65 nm trip into Port Davey. Although the prevailing winds here are SWly, a little patience is generally rewarded with a period of easterlies sufficient to make the day trip across the bottom of Tasmania. Locals know of anchorages on the south coast of Tasmania, but you need to be very aware of the dangers and pitfalls in using these and it is safer to make the full trip in one go. Swells along the south coast can be enormous, but generally die down to 1 or 2 metres after a spell of calm weather.

Note that sea breezes are SWly on the SW corner of the state and can be quite brisk on warm days. It is worth timing your passage to ensure that you have rounded South West Cape before the sea breeze heads you and turns a nice easterly run into a windward slog.

There are strong tide flows in the vicinity of De Witt Island and these could cause problems in heavy weather. The most direct route to South West Cape passes between Flat Witch Island and De Witt Island. It is possible to pass north of De Witt Island, taking care to avoid Black Witch Reef, an obvious rock pinnacle, which is the only danger to the immediate north of the island.

All of the capes across the south coast should be given wide clearance. In particular, the rugged and spectacular South West Cape and the rough sea bottom that extends beyond it, generate very nasty cross seas and it is worth standing off by several miles at least.

Approaching Port Davey from the south, stand well clear of the East Pyramids as this area is not well charted.

Big Caroline Rock

Enter Port Davey to the north of Big Caroline Rock and head towards the south end of the Breaksea Islands, though initially head slightly north to avoid Nares Rock, which generally breaks in any swell. Enter South Passage between Breaksea Islands and Shanks Islands and head into Bramble Cove as a first anchorage.

Approaching Port Davey from off shore after a passage from the west is relatively straight forward as the entrance is deep and relatively free of dangers. The exception to this is in extreme weather when very large swells may break and make entrance impossible.

Approaching from the north requires avoidance of a number of rocks and reefs, so that a good distance from the coast should be maintained.


Marinas & Yacht Clubs



The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service aproved guidelines for visitors. In particular, see the map of the Port Davey Marine Reserve. Note the restrictions on anchoring, diving, fishing, motorised boating and any boating in some sensitive areas.

Spain Bay

Spain Bay

Spain Bay/wiki/Port_Davey#Spain_Bay
Anchorage icon Spain Bay [[Port Davey#Spain Bay|Spain Bay]] 43°21.922'S, 145°58.175'E
Spain Bay is on the south side of Port Davey. This is the first real anchorage reached when entering Port Davey. It is often subject to swell, so it it is not the most comfortable of anchorages. Entrance is to the west of the reef that extends across from the eastern side of the entrance. Anchorage is on a sand bottom in around 5 metres in whatever section of the bay provides shelter from the current breeze. At the western end of the beach, there is a track through to the spectacular beach on Stephens Bay.
Hannant Inlet

Hannant Inlet

Hannant Inlet/wiki/Port_Davey#Hannant_Inlet
Anchorage icon Hannant Inlet [[Port Davey#Hannant Inlet|Hannant Inlet]] 43°21.451'S, 145°59.272'E
Hannant Inlet is in the SE corner of Port Davey. Most of the Inlet is very shallow, but anchorage can be found between Lourah Island and the shore to the west. Anchorage is in about 4 metres, sand bottom. Holding may not be all that great, but it is a beautiful secluded anchorage for one boat. It is also possible to anchor off the small beach to the west of the entrance, but the swell is likely to be greater there. Note that Black Swans use the shallower parts of the Inlet and try not to disturb them.
Bond Bay

Bond Bay

Bond Bay/wiki/Port_Davey#Bond_Bay
Anchorage icon Bond Bay [[Port Davey#Bond Bay|Bond Bay]] 43°15.455'S, 145°54.895'E
Bond Bay is on the western side of Payne Bay, near the entrance to Kelly Basin. It is the site of Clyde Clayton's original home, though little evidence remains of this. The bay is very shallow and poorly charted, so navigate with some care. Note that patches of seaweed may be more solid than they look. There is a slightly deeper (~4 metres) trench about the middle of the western beach, close by the house site. This provides a reasonable anchorage in sand. Note that the SWly swell can penetrate this bay and cause difficulties for deeper draft boats. If approaching from the north, perhaps after visiting Schist Cove, keep well clear of the north side of the bay. There is at least one uncharted kelp covered rock (at uncharted kelp covered rock/wiki/Port_Davey#uncharted_kelp_covered_rockDanger icon uncharted kelp covered rock [[Port Davey#uncharted kelp covered rock|uncharted kelp covered rock]] 43°15.250'S, 145°54.900'E south of the charted obstacles with a low water depth of less than a metre.
Schist Cove

Schist Cove

Schist Cove/wiki/Port_Davey#Schist_Cove
Anchorage icon Schist Cove [[Port Davey#Schist Cove|Schist Cove]] 43°13.702'S, 145°55.530'E

Schist Cove, near the northern end of Payne Bay, is probably best treated as a day anchorage. Anchor in around 4 metres, sand bottom, on the western side of Payne Bay, behind the reef that extends out into the bay from Carver Point. This relatively exposed anchorage provides a base from which to explore the Davey River by dinghy. With care, it is possible to take a dinghy through gaps in the reef to avoid crossing the bar, though the whole area is very shallow. Note that the bar is quite shallow and almost any swell will break across it. Once in the river, the area around Settlement Point requires some care. The RYCT guide advises keeping to the SW side of the entrance to avoid the sand bars extending from Settlement Point, but there are hidden snags of the entrance to the Blackwater Creek. Once clear of this area, dinghy travel to the magnificent Davey Gorge, about 5 miles further on, is straight forward, provided you adhere to standard river rules and take care in the shallow lagoons. Look for Huon Pine and Leatherwood on the river banks.

Note: there were bad fires in January 2013 in the Davey river area, including the Davey Gorge. it is undoubtedly still worth a visit, but the scenery may not be so great for a while until the vegetation recovers.
Bramble Cove

Bramble Cove

Bramble Cove/wiki/Port_Davey#Bramble_Cove
Anchorage icon Bramble Cove [[Port Davey#Bramble Cove|Bramble Cove]] 43°19.428'S, 145°59.972'E
This large bay has the benefit of being behind the Breaksea Islands. Apart from the obvious shallow beach, anchorage can be found in most parts of the bay to suit the conditions. Strong westerly swell, while reduced by Breaksea Islands, can sometimes be felt in the bay, but generally it is calm. Anchorage is on a white sand bottom, generally in 5 metres or less of water. The track to Mt Milner is at the L/H end of the shallow beach (Milner Cove). This short walk offers stunning views of Port Davey and into Bathurst Channel. The track to Mt Stokes starts from the small beach below an obvious ridge that leads to the western side of the peak. The climb to the summit takes about two hours on a good track. Near the R/H edge of the Milner Cove beach, look for a monument to a number of square rigger sailors who were buried in this vicinity during the whaling days. The eastern most beach has a camp site used by Par Avion and by kayakers. There is a creek with good water there.


Port Davey' - Clean water (though with button grass staining) can be obtained from the waterfall in Waterfall Bay. It is possible to moor alongside the waterfall and a pipeline is in place to allow you to directly fill your tanks. If the colour of the water worries you (it has no effect on taste or quality), Clayton's Corner is the best alternative.
Bathurst Harbour - Volunteers have refurbished Win and Clyde Clayton's house and its jetty in Clayton's Corner. Most vessels will find it possible to moor alongside the outer end of the jetty (western side is deepest). The roof of the house collects rain water to the tanks and this is piped to the jetty. It is suggested that you run the water through a cloth filter to ensure no debris gets in your tanks. Remember that others will need water too and only take what you need.
Electricity None available
Toilets ?
Showers ?
Laundry N/A (Not Available).
Garbage There are no garbage disposal facilities with the World Heritage Area. Basically, if you sail into the area with it on board, sail out with it on board.

Parks and Wildlife prefer that holding tanks be used within the Bathurst Channel and Harbour area

Fuel N/A
Bottled gas ?
Chandlers ?
Repairs There are no repair facilities of any sort in the area. It may be possible to have spares flown into Melaleuca airstrip
Internet N/A
Mobile connectivity ?
Vehicle rentals No roads, no cars



Eating out



  • Access to the Port Davey area is by foot (up to a weeks walk), boat or by air to the Melaleuca airstrip
  • In summer, Par Avion run regular flights and in winter, occasional flights on demand



Give a short history of the port.

Places to Visit

Note that when walking in Tasmanian wilderness, the tracks are rough and good footwear (preferably walking boots) is essential. The local snakes are not particularly aggressive, but all are poisonous.

  • Walk to Stephens Beach from Spain Bay. This magnificent beach faces the prevailing winds and the open ocean and is backed by huge sand dunes. There is a huge aboriginal midden near the southern end of the beach
  • Take a dinghy trip to the Davey Gorge from Schist Cove. The river is beautiful and the Gorge is stunning. Look for Sea Eagles and Black Swans along the way. Huon Pines grow around the Gorge area. There are vague remnants of the old Piners camp at Settlement Point and some remains of the piners activities on the river banks if you know what to look for
  • Climb Mount Milner from Bramble Cove for a great view of Port Davey (about an hours walk)
  • Climb Mount Stokes from Bramble Cove for a view that, on a good day, takes in a quarter of Tasmania. This will take around 4 hours return, allowing for a very long lunch on top


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)



See Tasmania.

  • An insight into the recent European history of the Port Davey area can be found in:
    • King of the Wilderness - the life of Deny King by Christobel Mattingly
    • Win and Clyde by Janet Fenton
  • Broader views of SW Tasmania can be found in:
    • South-West Tasmania - A Natural History & Visitors Guide by Ken Collins
    • The South West Book - Australian Conservation Foundation
    Both books are out of print, but can often be found in second hand bookshops and provide a great insight into the natural and human history of SW Tasmania


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