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Rocky Cape National Park

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Rocky Cape National Park - Cities, Towns and Localities
Located on the north-west coast of Tasmania and easily accessible form the Bass Highway, midway between Burnie and Smithton, is the Rocky Cape National Park. The smallest of Tasmania’s national parks, it stretches for about 12 km along the Bass Strait shoreline, incorporating rugged coastline, small sheltered beaches, heathlands and wooded hills.

There is much more to Rocky Cape National Park then first meets the eye, including Aboriginal heritage, ship wrecks, rock formations that have been turned on its side, caves, coves, and hills that run down to the sea.

For starters you can take a tour of the Rocky Cape Lighthouse, offering scenic photographic shots from a distance, to sweeping panoramic views from the lighthouse itself.

Mainly a day use park, there is no camping areas within Rocky Cape, although there are some limited private accommodation at Sisters Beach and Boat Harbour, just east of the park. West of the park there is camping with facilities at Rocky Cape township and Crayfish Creek, and you can bush camp at Peggs Beach. Within the park there is a picnic area with tables and a gas BBQ is available at Mary Ann Cove. Toilets are available at Burgess Cove, one of which is wheelchair accessible. The Sisters Beach holiday area has electric BBQs, toilets and drinking water is provided by the local council.

 

The closet headland in the photo is Tang.dim.mer (Rocky Cape National Park). Behind it in the distance is the high flat headland of Time.le.ner (Table Cape).
The closet headland in the photo is Tang.dim.mer (Rocky Cape National Park).
Behind it in the distance is the high flat headland of Time.le.ner (Table Cape).

Tang Dim Mer: human history in the region began thousands of years ago, back prior to Tasmania being separated from the mainland. This area was once hills above the Bassian Plain that connected Tasmania to the mainland. It is over these hills that the first occupants came, travelling southward over 35,000 years ago.

The richness of the area’s resources is shown by the vast cave middens, left by Aboriginal occupation, revealing continuous occupation through the accumulated materials over 8,000 year period. These are one of the largest and most complete records of the lifestyle of coastal Aboriginal people anywhere in Australia. The middens indicate that seals, scale fish and a variety of shellfish were major items of food. The food were supplemented by other game and by edible plants such as grass tree and fern. The middens also reveal a range of tools used for gathering and preparing food and for other cultural activities.

Tang Dim Mer (one of the Aboriginal names for the area) held and still holds a special significance to the Aboriginal community, who maintain an ongoing presence at Rocky Cape. The area is frequently visited for cultural, spiritual and recreational purposes, and the Aboriginal community is actively involved in planning its management.

Source: Parks and Wildlife Service

For additional attractions, tours and other information visit the Parks and Wildlife Service or your local visitor information centre.

Information Centre

Parks and Wildlife Service - Rocky Cape

Parks and Wildlife Service - Hobart

Parks and Wildlife Service - Launceston

Tasmanian Travel & Information Centre - Burnie

Rocky Cape National Park Attractions

Caves
• Such is the geology of the area, some of the rocks here are among the oldest in Tasmania, and that over the many billions of years, the coastline has been witness to great changes and still continues to be eroded by the action of water, wind and waves. The most spectacular erosion is that taken place around the caves. Known as sea caves because they were eroded by the sea when it was up to 20 m higher than today, the rocks around Rocky Cape had joints which eroded more rapidly than the surrounding rock, thereby creating caves. When sea levels dropped to where they are today, the caves were left above the shoreline, making them ideal for coastal rock shelters.

North Cave is the most easily-accessible example of the caves. It is about 20 m above sea level. It is amazing to think that caves similar to these are also found beneath the sea, created by wave action when sea levels were lower.
Flora
• With its rich diversity of vegetation, there are many plants to see and enjoy. Coastal heathlands, which dominate the hillier parts of the park, contain hundreds of different plant species, many of which are a blaze of colour, during spring and summer.

The plants here are generally low-growing and wind, salt and fire-tolerant. Some plants, including many of the 40 orchid species found here, lie dormant underground until fire passes over them. The effects of the environment such as wind can be seen in such plants as sweet wattle and she-oak, which are taller and even tree-like in other regions, but here in the wind-swept heathlands of Rocky Cape, they have become ground-hugging plants.

Some of the wildflowers found here include white-flowering tea tree, yellow guinea-flower, purple iris, boronia, pink and white epacris, and the spectacular Christmas bell, which flowers from November through to February. Also common in the park are the Xanthorrhoea, with its grass-like skirt and tall flower spike.

In the more protected areas, pockets of trees have emerge and small clumps of forest can be found in the gullies on the south and east-facing slopes, such as those around Doone Falls. These mini-forests contain eucalypt, wattle, paperbark and banksia, as well as plants more commonly found in wet forest.

One other outstanding plant community is the stand of saw banksia in the hills overlooking Sisters Beach. This giant of the banksia family is restricted to this small part of Tasmania, though it is common in mainland Australia.

The plant disease Phytophthora is killing plants in this park. The fungal disease rots the roots of certain native plants, eventually killing them. You may see examples of collapsed grass trees (Xanthorrhoea) and dead banksias in a number of locations here. Because Phytophthora root rot can be carried in soil and water, one way to prevent its wider spread is to clean soil from your boots before visiting any other areas. (Even plants in your home garden can be affected by Phytophthora. Wash mud into drains or away from native plants.)


Walks
• Short walks include the North Cave/Lighthouse (just under 1 hour return), South Cave (10-20 minutes return), and the Banksia Grove/Caves Circuit (up to 1 hour return).

Longer walks include the Postmans Track (1-2½ hours), Rocky Cape Circuit Walk (2½ hours return), the Inland Track (3½-4 hours one way), the Coastal Route (3½-4 hours one way) and a Full Circuit Walk (6-8 hours return). More details of these walks are available from the Parks and Wildlife Service or the local visitor centres.


Water Activities
• The rocky coastline features pools brimming with multi-coloured seaweeds and delicate patterned starfish. There are some good swimming spots such as at Sisters Beach, Forwards Beach and Anniversary Bay. Although there can be some good scuba diving around Rocky Cape, conditions can be treacherous and diving is recommended only for the experienced.

Beach and rock fishing are also popular. Boats can be launched at Burgess Cove and Mary Ann Cove (near Rocky Cape) and at Sisters Beach. Check for tide and weather conditions. There is limited water skiing on Lake Llewellyn, just outside the eastern boundary of the park.

Source: Parks and Wildlife Service


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