Venture to the southwestern tip of Tasmania and you’ll find a gateway to the primeval, untamed interior of a lost world, largely untouched by man.
Port Davey is on a natural bay that offers shelter from the unpredictable weather of the Southern Sea. Moreover, it gives entry to the Southwest National Park: more than 2,400 square kilometres of protected wilderness and part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Entering the wild
The only ways to see this wilderness are by walking the 70-kilometre Port Davey track, which can take eight days each way in winter, by light aircraft or by sea. Taking a Coral Expeditions small expedition-style ship is by far the best, and easiest, way to see the wonders of this isolated and unique area.
Once aboard, you can experience the Bathurst Channel that begins at Port Davey and meanders for 12 kilometres through dramatic landscapes created by the six mountain ranges surrounding it. The water is a deep reddish brown, from tannins that leech from the button grass and heath on shore. A gentle cruise through here reveals water so still, it acts as a perfect mirror image reflecting the spectacular scenery.
You anchor at the Celery Top Islands in Bathurst Harbour and board the ship’s launch, Xplorer, for a slow cruise down the Melaleuca Inlet. Disembarking at Melaleuca jetty, you can head down the raised boardwalk to the Orange Bellied Parrot hide to witness these rare birds that mate for life and nest in the reserve. There are only about 14 of these critically endangered birds in the wild, so seeing them in their natural habitat is nothing short of thrilling.
See, do, understand
The Needwonnee people were the original inhabitants of the Melaleuca area and the Needwonnee Walk takes visitors back to that tribal time, thanks to ephemeral displays often made from forest materials, in deference to the Needwonnee people’s often transient life. Wigwams, traditional canoes and carvings are featured as part of the easy, accessible interpretive walk through moorland, forest and around the edge of the lagoon as it loops back to the jetty, accompanied by stunning views of the surrounding Western Arthur range.
Back at the ship, kayaks await to explore around the Celery Top Islands and later, you have a choice of walks up Clayton’s Corner or Balmoral Hill, each with a breathtaking panorama to photograph or simply breathe in.
The next morning, the ship cruises back to Bramble Cove for more kayaking or a cruise around the steep, rugged Breaksea Islands in the Xplorer before heading back to sea.
Being able to experience Port Davey, Bathurst Harbour and Melaleuca on a Coral Expeditions cruise gives you an up-close, 360-degree view of this remote, remarkable and pristine part of the world.