Rocky Cape National Park - Cities, Towns and Localities
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 Tasmanias
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
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
headland in the photo is Tang.dim.mer (Rocky Cape National
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 areas 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
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.
Parks and Wildlife Service
additional attractions, tours and
other information visit the
Parks and Wildlife
Service or your local visitor information centre.
Rocky Cape National Park Attractions
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.
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.)
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).
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.
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
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.
Parks and Wildlife Service