Boat Harbour, Tasmania: Travel guide and things to do

Located 183 km northwest of Launceston and 30 km from Burnie, Boat Harbour may well be the most beautiful place on the whole north coast of Tasmania. This charming village, located on the side of a gentle hill which tumbles down to a superb white beach with rocky headlands on either side, looks like a picture off a chocolate box or a scenic calendar. The sea is so green and blue, the beach so clean, the surroundings so delightful, and the village is so sleepy and peaceful. Boat Harbour Beach is notable for its fine white sands which have been weathered from the quartzite rocks which are common along this section of the coastline. The beach is firm and clean and the offshore waters are ideal for skin diving. The village exists in a microclimate which is removed from the surrounding weather patterns. Frosts are unknown and plants from the tropics can be seen in local gardens.

Boat Harbour was first settled by Europeans in the 1830s when it became known as Jacob's Boat Harbour. No one is sure exactly who the harbour was named after but it is likely that it took its name from a local sailor, Captain John Jacobs, who sailed the schooner Edward along the north coast from Stanley for the Van Diemen Land Company. There is a story, probably apocryphal, that Jacobs fell asleep and his boat drifted into the small harbour.

In the early days Boat Harbour was used as a port. In 1866 the Lands Department surveyed the town and by the end of the century a small jetty had been built and potatoes, grown in the district, were being shipped along the coast to Burnie and Devonport. At the time there were no roads.

Boat Harbour was never a good location for a port. The tracks down to the harbour were steep and dangerous and the harbour itself was poorly protected from the huge seas which periodically pounded the coastline.

The first permanent shack in the area was built in 1917 and by the 1920s Boat Harbour had become a popular, if isolated, holiday resort.

Today it is a tiny settlement with holiday accommodation, a General Store selling petrol and supplies, and houses dotted across the hills all boasting excellent views over the bay.

It is easy to confuse Boat Harbour (the township) with Boat Harbour Beach (the delightful holiday resort). To get to the beach it is necessary to drive west from the town and follow the signs which say Boat Harbour Beach. The route is known as the C232.

Things to see

Rocky Cape National Park
To the west of Boat Harbour is the Rocky Cape National Park which is a 3000 ha reserve combining beautiful cliff formations, coastal heathlands, lots of excellent bushwalks, basic camping facilities, and spectacular displays of wildflowers.

Rocky Cape was named by Bass and Flinders when they passed along the coast in 1798. Today it is of interest to bushwalkers who are offered a wide variety of walks including the old Postman's Track (first used by the Van Diemen's Company) which runs down to Sisters Beach and the walks around Rocky Cape itself where the elevation is such that 'The Nut' at Stanley is clearly visible from the lighthouse. The walk down to the North Cave (there is a map of the whole park on the road out to the lighthouse) is particularly interesting. The cave has evidence of Aboriginal settlement dating back at least 8 000 years and the floor, which is protected from damage by a walkway, is the site of an Aboriginal midden - a mound of mollusc shells left by prehistoric inhabitants. For more information check out: