Tasmania, the “island of sailors”, boasts more boats per head than any other Australian state. Hobart, the island state’s capital city, sits serenely on the banks of the Derwent River and is well known as the destination for those competing in the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Explore the untouched southwest or stick to calmer waters along the east coast. Whatever course you set, be sure to visit the Royal Hobart Yacht Club for a drink and a meal, and to glean a little of the local knowledge.
Cruise the rivers or the coast of Tasmania in a catamaran that will take you to most beautiful coves and bays, including Wineglass Bay, Bruny Island and the wild Tasman Peninsula. Travel inland along World Heritage protected rivers, including the Gordon River, the Derwent River and the Tamar River with its vineyard-lined banks near Launceston.
Hobart’s vast, deep Derwent River offers spectacular views of the capital city and Mt Wellington, and Tasmania’s beautiful natural coastal scenery. Join the crew of a luxury ocean racing yacht for a half-day Derwent River trip, which includes gourmet morning or afternoon tea. Keep an eye out for dolphins and seals as you make your way towards the Iron Pot lighthouse and learn to trim the sails as you go (image by rwpoulton).
Melbourne to Hobart
Australia’s most challenging yacht race, the Melbourne to Hobart starts at Port Phillip Heads, continues across Bass Strait and the tough west coast of Tasmania, past Maatsukyer Island and up the Derwent River to finish in Hobart; it’s a race “run for yachties by yachties”. If you’re seeking a sailing experience of a different kind, sign up as a crewmember on board the Windeward Bound. You’ll need to book early to secure your position on board as a working crew member and be prepared to learn the skills required to help sail this traditional square rigger.
Macquarie Harbour to Port Davey
Macquarie Harbour, Australia’s second-largest natural harbour after Port Phillip Bay, is six times the size of Sydney Harbour and set amidst ancient wilderness and the Gordon River. To sail through Hells Gate, the entrance to Macquarie Harbour, yachties must navigate massive outpourings of water, whirlpools and strong currents. It’s just as challenging to sail to Port Davey. Wait for a lull in the persistent westerlies to make this exhilarating trip.
Hobart to Mainland Australia
For the ultimate offshore experience, depart from Hobart and travel along the east coast, past the cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula before rounding the cape and sailing through the waters surrounding Maria Island, Freycinet, Bicheno and Binalong Bay. Be prepared to cross Bass Strait in tough conditions; it’s renowned the world over as one of the most difficult stretches of water. Seasoned sailors will enjoy the additional challenges of the west coast route, remote and dependent on westerlies.
If you love sailing, explore the waterways of Tasmania and see what all the fuss is about.
About the author:
Author: Xanthe Coward is a writer and theatre reviewer who enjoys travel and actually married a sailor from Tasmania.
Feature image by Martin Neuhof