with fishing boats at Bicheno
Attractive and charming seaside resort town
Located 176 km south east of Launceston and 182
km north east of Hobart (via the Tasman
Highway), Bicheno is a charming seaside resort
town noted for its good motels, its excellent
fishing facilities, its safe and attractive
beaches and its interesting coastal walks which
include some superb rocky outcrops and
Bicheno was established as a whaling centre
as early as 1803. It was at this time that the
sealers and whalers arrived and began using
Waubs Boat Harbour (the old name for Bicheno) as
a base for their activities on the east coast.
The sealers and whalers actually predated the
first official settlement of Van Diemen's Land.
They lived a primitive and dangerous life and
were known to be particularly cruel to the local
Aborigines who they enslaved and prostituted.
The town was named after James Ebenezer
Bicheno, the British Colonial Secretary for Van
Diemen's Land from 1843-1851. Bicheno was famous
for his girth. It was said that he could fit
three full bags of wheat into his trousers.
Bicheno died in Hobart in 1851 and bequeathed
his substantial library to Tasmania. It was
incorporated into the first Tasmanian Library.
House (a National Trust Building) at
Dating from around this period is the Old
Court House/Gaol House, now a National Trust
building, in James Street. It is one of the few
historic buildings left standing in Bicheno.
Built in 1845 it is a simple stone building with
unusual twelve pane windows.
The tiny harbour continued to serve fishermen
and in 1854 it was expanded to provide port
facilities for the coal mining at Denison River.
The coal was transported to the port along a
horse-drawn tramway which ran 5 km from the
mines. The Gulch, located between Gulch Road and
Governors Island, still has metal rings in the
rocks where the coal ships would moor while the
coal was being loaded.
The use of Bicheno as a coal port was
short-lived. The discovery of gold in Victoria
saw most of the town's residents depart in 1855
and for nearly a century Bicheno became a sleepy
little fishing village.
Fishing has continued to be the lifeblood of
the town and although, in recent times, it has
become a popular tourist destination, there are
still many fishing vessels moored in the town's
harbour. The local fishing industry's catch
includes substantial quantities of abalone,
crayfish, scallops and trevally.
Things to see:
lichen on the rocks at the coastline
near the blowhole at Bicheno
East Coast Birdlife and Animal Park
The town has a number of attractions to
entertain holiday makers. The East Coast
Birdlife and Animal Park on the northern side of
the town offers an opportunity to see the
diverse fauna of the region including Forester
kangaroos, Bennett's wallabies, Tasmanian
devils, Cape Barren Geese and pelicans. Nearby,
and easily identified by the masts of the
coastal trader Enterprise which was built at
Battery Point in 1902, is the Sea Life Centre.
Open every day from 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m. it
displays (and sells) the fish from the local
waters including eels, seahorses, scalefish and
crayfish. Among the Centre's unusual attractions
is the anchor from the barque Otago, the only
vessel ever commanded by the great
Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad.
Diamond Island Nature Reserve
Just off the coast to the north of Bicheno is
the Diamond Island Nature Reserve. It is
possible to walk across from the mainland at low
tide. The island is home to large numbers of
fairy penguins. It is a popular walk for
If, coming from the north, you turn left into
Bicheno on Burgess Street it is possible to see
the Gulch, the grave of Waubedebar, and the
Grave of Waubedebar
Near the tennis courts is the grave of
Waubedebar (after whom Waub's Harbour was named)
an Aboriginal woman who saved two white men when
their boat was smashed against the rocks during
a storm. It is said that snowdrops bloom on her
grave every spring.
Further down the coast (follow the signs to the
south of the town) it is possible to see the
town's famous Rocking Rock (a huge 80 tonne
piece of granite balanced so that it rocks with
the movement of the tide) and the very
impressive local blowhole. Be careful! In the
right conditions it is very easy to get soaked
by the unexpected wave. There are a number of
interesting access points onto the rocks which
have a distinctive red colour as a result of
deposits of red lichen.