Devonport, Tasmania... Must see's and do's!
1. Mersey Bluff Lighthouse
Lighthouses are a fascination, so whenever we get the chance to get up and close and personal with one, we do. Hearing that there was a lighthouse in Devonport, we had to take the opportunity to visit and learn about it.
The Mersey Bluff Lighthouse stands at the mouth of the Mersey River, and is unusual by Australian Standards to see a Lighthouse with vertical red and white stripes (or red day marks).
The lighthouse was built in 1889, and is built with handmade bricks, standing on a stone base. It was connected to town water in 1901, which is apparently unusual for lighthouses. It was built to replace the Don River Light – an early beacon used to guide ships at the mouth of the Mersey River.
In 1910, the original kerosene lamp was converted to acetylene gas, which used a 7 day acetylene generator. The light was again upgraded in 1920 to DC electric operation, which meant the lighthouse no longer needed to be manned. In 1978, the lighthouse was connected to main power, and is still operational to this day. The establishment of the lighthouse, like in many areas, meant an end to number of ship wrecks in the area
There is an easy walk from the Devonport City Centre to Mersey Bluff, of a short drive, with parking at the base of the lighthouse. The views are spectacular and offer an insight into the rugged nature of Tasmania’s coast.
2. Lillico Beach Penguins
The Lillico Beach Conservation Area is about 6km west of Devonport, and is located along the Bass Highway. The reserve is a long, narrow, low tide ‘beach’ that is made from an eroded basalt platform. There are numerous rock pools to explore, but you must be off the beach by 6pm.
We went for a visit during the day, and from the platform you can view many little penguin nests scattered throughout the bush area. As it is breeding time, there are many baby penguins sleeping in the nests during the day, but you might be lucky to see one of two poke their heads out.
There is a sign out the front, informing you of the time the penguins returned the night prior, and how many were seen. This gives a good indication of when to turn up to see the adult penguins return from their day at sea, and see them feeding their young.
We arrived at 8.30pm and we were greeted by volunteers from the Friends of Lillico Penguins, as well as a Ranger from Tasmania National Parks. A talk about the penguins, as well as their natural predators (such as the Mutton Bird) and the many birds that spend time in the reserve is given by the ranger.
We stood on the platform, with about 30 other people, and watched and waited for the penguins to come out of the sea, and waddle up to their nests. We then watched, with fascination, the violence involved in the young being fed. The young push each other out of the way, jump all over the adult penguins and wrestle with the adult for the food.
The ranger and the volunteers were more than happy to chat and answer any questions. They were very friendly and had a lot of knowledge about the area, the animals that frequent the area and Devonport itself. The penguins are only there between September and late April for breeding season. While this whole experience is free, the volunteers do ask for donations.
3. Sunset/Moon rising
There are many places to sit and watch the sun rise, the sun set and the moon rise. You can sit along the banks of the Mersey River and watch the sunset while the Spirit of Tasmania Docks or leaves port. You can watch the moon rise, while waiting for the Penguins to come in and nest for night, and watch the sun rise while sitting on the hill with the Mersey Lighthouse.
Devonport is a town that lends itself to watching these amazing natural wonders, and as we did, pretty much on your own or with very few people nearby. This makes the experiences extra special.
4. The Rectory
We didn’t do a grocery shop prior to leaving Melbourne, so on our first morning we decided to spoil ourselves and go out for Breakfast. Now, we can honestly say that we cannot remember doing this in a very long time, because it is usually so expensive. But, at this awesome little café, in East Devonport (right opposite the entry/exit to the Spirit of Tasmania Port) we paid under $50 for all four of us to enjoy a cooked breakfast, juices and tea and coffee.
We discovered this awesome building, and yes it was a Rectory. It has original stained glass windows and fireplaces are still in residence, which just adds to the charm of the building. We also couldn’t pass up the $5 for eggs on toast, or the $9 bacon or and eggs with toast or the $13 big breakfast that was on offer, and it was just delicious. The coffee was good too, as were the juices and English breakfast tea. Worth checking out if you are on a morning sail leaving Tassie or on a night sail arriving in Tassie.
5. Where to stay
Before arriving I looked at all our options, and decided on the cheap freedom camp of Horse Head. For $10 a night, and being camped right on the banks of the Mersey River, we were happy.
There are a number of caravan parks, many that are pet friendly, in Devonport
as well as another camp similar to Horse Head. There are many choices available for all form of accomodation required. Checkout our full blog here for more info!
6. The House of Anvers
Who doesn’t love a chocolate factory, especially one where you can see them making the chocolate, taste test the chocolate for free and indulge in a coffee, hot chocolate, iced chocolate and a cake made on site in their café. The House of Anvers supplies this and so much more.
Located in Latrobe on the Bass Highway (about 5km out of Devonport) you will find the stunning property that used to be known as “Wyndarra Lodge”, but is now the home to The House of Anvers Chocolate. The house was built in 1931, and they have retained all of its charm, while also turning it into a café/chocolate factory/commercial kitchen.
Entry to the property is free, but don’t taste test the chocolate, because otherwise you will be finding yourself quickly buying some of their yummy chocolate. There is a free self-guided tour around the property, that is 2.2 hectares, and features trees from around the world in the Old tree Garden.
Spend some time watching the qualified chocolatiers making chocolates, fudge, cakes and many more treats for you to enjoy. Learn about the History of Anvers, and enjoy a treat in their café.