Being an island, it's no surprise Tasmania's rich history centres on its beaches and the ocean. Today, Tasmanians still enjoy all the sea brings them, with a plethora of popular water-based activities such as fishing, kayaking, diving, snorkelling and more, available on the island.
Check out some of the ways you can embrace this island's maritime heritage and make the most of the water while holidaying here.
Explore our beaches
Heading to some of Tasmania's best beaches is one way you can explore the ocean. Whether it's spending a day lazing on the shore or checking out the local marine life by snorkelling, you won't be disappointed.
Wineglass Bay is one of our premiere beaches, so rest assured it's going to be a total treat. With its stunning white sand and crystal-clear water, you'll get a good understanding of why Tasmanians hold the ocean so dear. Another bonus of this beach is that it's found in the Freycinet National Park, meaning there are beautiful views every which way you turn; whether viewed along the shoreline or from above in that picture postcard view the whole world knows. No wonder it has been nominated many times as one of the World’s Best!
For other stunning beaches, head to the Bay of Fires. This coastline and series of beaches along the northeast coast near St Helens is famous for pristine water and orange lichen-stained boulders.
Want to know what the locals know? Two other spots worth considering: Boat Harbour and Tomahawk. Boat Harbour is not actually a harbour, but all beach and a favourite amongst locals. If you have time to camp, and it is in the warmer months, a total escape can be had at Tomahawk along the coast from Bridport. Looking out to the strait and a distant Flinders Island, it is a great spot to completely disconnect from your normal routine. With its own small ‘offshore island’ and tidal pools which warm up in the sunlight who could imagine that a Bass Strait location could be so charming? Both are very children friendly.
Finished on land? See a whole new side to Tasmania by hopping in a boat and heading out on the water. There are plenty of cruises and leisurely boat tours available around the island, so the hardest part will be choosing just where to explore!
One great idea is to explore some of Tasmania's offshore islands, such as King Island, Flinders Island, Bruny Island, Maria Island and more. This will give you a taste of the waters early pioneers had to navigate to reach or later to service the coastal outposts of Tasmania, and along the way you'll see the obstacles they had to face. These included factors such as spectacular rocky outcrops and ever-changing weather conditions. You might even come across a shipwreck site – many vessels were sunk in Tasmania’s early history. Thankfully, with today's technology and geographical knowledge of the area, it's much easier to identify risks in advance.
Expand your mind
Tasmania is full of museums and other informational sites that shed a light on aspects of its maritime history.
Take a look at the Furneaux Museum on Flinders Island, for example. This centre delves into the history of the group of offshore islands known as the Furneaux Group. Seven buildings showcase various aspects of heritage, such as an anchor from the Sydney Cove, a ship that wrecked on Preservation Island in 1797. There are many other artefacts from various shipwrecks, not to mention traces of Aboriginal settlement, such as shell necklaces.
For another glimpse into the past, check out the SV May Queen at Constitution Dock in Hobart. This vessel is Australia's oldest sail trading vessel, dating back to the 1800’s. It was built on the banks of the Huon River, which supplied an abundance of fine timber thanks to the forest in the area. These days, you can even take a tour of the boat. Volunteers offer guided visits throughout the year, especially in summer, so head to the dock to see what all the fuss is about.
Hobart’s Maritime Museum is a time capsule of all things nautical. Adjacent to the harbour in Sullivans Cove, Hobart there are many hours of exploration to be had indoors; this and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery are also ideal rainy weather pursuits, should there be a dull day in your itinerary.
These is just a fraction of Tasmania's wonderful maritime history for you to learn about and enjoy. No doubt you will discover more and more when you head to Tasmania and start exploring. Not only is it an important part of the island's history, it relates to the development of Australia as a whole, too.