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Port Davey Marine Reserve

Guidelines for Visitors


Marine pests
One of the greatest threats to the Port Davey Marine Reserve is the introduction of marine pests aboard boats. It is critical that all boat owners clean and anti-foul their boat and dinghy before leaving home. Caring for Marine Reserves.

Root rot
In the Port Davey region there are some large infestations of root rot, mainly alongside walking tracks. To prevent the spread:
•    Do not step ashore unless your boots and camping gear are free of dirt and mud.
•    Clean your gear before you leave home, or at a minimum, scrub your boots and any muddy equipment in the shallows before stepping on land
•    Keep to formed tracks where possible. Moving off tracks into uninfected areas will spread the disease

If you plan to visit from overseas or interstate, Quarantine law applies in Port Davey. Fruit, vegetables, insects and seeds must not go ashore. Please check your boat before coming to Port Davey. Bumblebees, European wasps and starlings are some of the pests already in Port Davey. See Quarantine Services Tasmania.

Kayaking at Port Davey

Kayaking at Port Davey
(Photo copyright Tourism Tasmania
Photo by Matthew Newton)


The marine reserve includes two zones – a Sanctuary Zone (no take) where no fishing is allowed, and a Habitat Protection Zone (restricted take) where some fishing is allowed. Fishing restrictions extend upriver as far as the seaward limit in each of the rivers that flow into the marine reserve. To preserve wilderness values, land and water markers are not used to identify zone boundaries. The map defines the zones.

Sanctuary Zone (NO TAKE) 
All forms of recreational and commercial fishing are prohibited. Sanctuary zones provide the highest level of protection to marine biodiversity, including habitat,animals and plants.

Habitat Protection Zone (RESTRICTED TAKE) 
Restricted fishing (commercial and recreational) is allowed, and includes: 
• Dive fishing for rock lobster and abalone only, using a rock lobster pot or ring 
• Line fishing with no more than 5 hooks per line, and trolling 

It is your responsibility to comply with licence, size, bag, possession and season limits as outlined in the Recreational Sea Fishing Guide (DPIW). 

Netting, set lines, longlines, droplines, and the taking of marine plants and cast seaweed are prohibited. (Never transfer live bait between locations. Use of frozen bait can introduce exotic diseases).

Bathurst Channel


Click on the map to enlarge


Code of Conduct 
For your own safety, and to protect the fragile marine life, all boat users should observe this Code. 

Please do not anchor in the SENSITIVE AREA defined on the map in Bathurst Channel. Anchors and anchor chains damage the fragile marine invertebrates (such as seapens and sea fans) which live on the seafloor and walls of the Channel. Consult the Tasmanian Anchorage Guide (Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania) and your marine chart for sheltered and safe anchorages. 

Sewage and grey water 
It is illegal to discharge sewage and grey water into a marine reserve. However, PWS recognize that many smaller vessels have limited holding capacity for sewage, which may not last the time spent in the marine reserve. Please assist by observing the following: 

Before visiting the marine reserve, all vessels' owners are encouraged to have sufficient-sized holding tanks fitted to their vessel. 

On arrival, holding tanks or portaloos should be emptied before entering the marine reserve. 

While in the marine reserve, empty smaller holding tanks as close to the Breaksea Islands or as far west in Bathurst Channel as practical. This will allow tidal flushing to dilute nutrients in the sewage and grey water, which will protect the sensitive marine life. 

When possible, use the on-shore toilets at Claytons Corner and Melaleuca airstrip. 

(PWS are continuing to explore ways to assist visitors to keep sewage and grey water out of the marine reserve.) 

Bilge water 
It is illegal to discharge bilge water into a marine reserve, as marine pests are sometimes carried in bilge water. Flush your bilge with freshwater before you depart for Port Davey. 

Motorised boating 
Motor at low speed at all times to protect you, your boat, other users and the delicate marine life. It also helps to avoid mixing the layered waters, prevents bank erosion,and reduces the risk of disturbing breeding shorebirds. 

Travel near the centre of the waterway,keeping the hull and gunwale horizontal. If the stern of the boat digs in, damaging waves can be generated, which disturb sediments and erode the soft banks. 

Use your charts and navigational equipment.The dark waters, steep gradients, narrow passages and large shallow areas with hidden obstructions make navigation difficult. Local knowledge, if possible, is preferable. 

A 5 knot speed limit applies within 60 m of shore, riverbank, jetty or pontoon; within 120m of swimmers or divers; and in southern Melaleuca Inlet. 

No Motorised Boating Zones 
Observe the NO MOTORISED BOATING ZONES marked on the map. These have been established to protect your vessel from dangerous obstructions; to prevent bank erosion, to avoid disturbance of seafloor sediments and water layer mixing; and to protect sensitive bird breeding areas. 

Where to moor 
• Claytons Corner jetty.
• Melaleuca Creek/Melaleuca Inlet junction (the furthest upstream extent for yachts to moor). 

Vessel access to Melaleuca 
Access to Melaleuca is by dinghy only, via Melaleuca Creek. Limited temporary dinghy tie-up is available at the floating pontoon near the airstrip. There is a public toilet at the airstrip.

Where to get drinking water
Many visitors consider the freshwater creeks and rainwater tanks safe to drink from. However they may be subject to local habitat contamination. As a precaution, boil water for 3 minutes or use a filter system.
  • Bond Bay (rainwater tank)
  • Bramble Cove Creek
  • Watering Bay, Bathurst Channel (Piped, potable fresh water. Moor alongside the small platform under the waterfall. Please do not anchor here - fragile sea pens live on the seafloor.)
  • Schooner Cove (creek west corner of cove)
  • Claytons Corner (Piped tank water available from the hose at the jetty.)

Scuba Diving

Bathurst Channel is one of Tasmania’s most unusual, environmentally sensitive and difficult dive locations. Few people ever have the opportunity, or possess the diving skills, to enter these waters to safely view the remarkable and delicate marine invertebrates. Exquisite and colourful lace bryozoans, sea whips and seapens are just some of the invertebrates living on the channel walls and sea floor. These species usually occur in deep ocean waters, inaccessible to divers. The relatively shallow, tannin-stained waters of Bathurst Channel mimic a deep dark ocean environment. 

Reference Areas 
Please do not dive or snorkel in the three REFERENCE AREAS. These places are scientific control areas set aside to protect a representative sample of Bathurst Channel’s marine communities. They are located alongside popular diving areas to enable impacts of diving to be easily assessed. Regular biological monitoring is conducted to compare the health and resilience of the marine life in the more popular dive areas with that in REFERENCE AREAS. Results will indicate whether tighter restrictions will need to be placed on diving in the channel. Please be careful when you dive! 

Difficulties of diving in Bathurst Channel 
To dive in the channel, divers must be highly skilled and able to deal with the following conditions: 

Cold - The water temperature is between 10°C and 18°C. Drysuits or thick wetsuits (7 or 9 mm) are recommended. 

Dark – Diving in Bathurst Channel is like night diving. Below about 6 m it is completely dark,depending on the amount of recent rainfall.

Strong currents – Frequent strong tidal currents flowing through the channel may make diving difficult or impossible. These currents are hard to predict and sometimes correspond more with passing weather systems and air pressure, than with tidal fluctuations. Currents flow faster after periods of very wet weather. 

Changing buoyancy – As you descend and ascend through the halocline (between the layers of freshwater and denser saltwater) your buoyancy changes rapidly. You must be able to readily and effectively adjust your buoyancy to maintain control and avoid accidental damage to the delicate marine invertebrates on the seafloor. The halocline depth varies seasonally and throughout the length of the channel. 

Visibility – Visibility is reduced following wet weather when increased freshwater runoff causes greater turbulence. Generally, visibility is best during autumn.

Dive with a Guide
Your diving experience will be safer and better informed if you join a licensed commercial dive company. These companies know the best and safest places to dive, and will share their intimate knowledge of the fascinating marine life. Contact PWS for a list of licensed dive operators.

Diver’s Code of Conduct 
For your own safety, and to protect the fragile marine life, divers should observe this Code.
  • Bathurst Channel divers must be experienced with diving in dark, cold conditions and strong currents, and be able to achieve a high level of buoyancy control.
  • Dive in groups of five or fewer people to minimise turbulence and accidental damage to marine invertebrates.
  • Observe the REFERENCE AREAS marked on the map.
  • Within the SENSITIVE AREA (Bathurst Channel), live diving (with the boat operator remaining aboard and without using an anchor) is far more preferable.This is to prevent strong currents dragging anchors across colonies of seapens and other fragile invertebrates. If you must anchor it is best if a diver takes the anchor to the seafloor to find a safe location.
  • Avoid accidental damage to invertebrate fauna, and sediment disturbance from fin kicks and dangling dive equipment. Secure equipment close to your body.
  • Do not touch reef surfaces or marine fauna anywhere inside the SANCTUARY ZONE.
  • No material (living or non-living) can be taken from the SANCTUARY ZONE.
  • Only fish, abalone and rock lobster can be taken from the HABITAT PROTECTION ZONE (restrictions apply).
  • Observe the BIOSECURITY guidelines to prevent accidental introduction of marine pests to this pristine area.
Kayaking the varied waters of this beautifully wild and remote region is an unforgettable experience. The tricky part is getting you and your kayak there. 

Getting there 
Only the most highly skilled and fit paddlers,with specialist equipment, should attempt to reach Port Davey via the south or west coasts.Sea conditions can be extreme and there are very limited landing opportunities. If you are considering this option, discuss your plans with a local kayak club. It is safer, and preferable, to fly in and take advantage of the commercial seakayak eco-tour company with a base camp on the shores of Bathurst Harbour. This company employs skilled guides who know the best places to go. You can also charter a boat to take you and your kayak to Port Davey. 

To protect Port Davey from marine pests and root rot, thoroughly clean and check your kayak and camping gear for any animals, plant material or mud. 

See our Minimal Impact Sea Kayaking notes for further details.


Commonly used and scenic campsites are: Bramble Cove, Schooner Cove, Farrell Point, Joan Point, Claytons Corner (historic house and camping), Melaleuca (bushwalkers’ huts and camping).

 The use of other campsites unnecessarily degrades the coastal vegetation and shoreline, and risks spreading root rot. Wherever you camp, please  follow Leave No Trace principles. Campsites do not have facilities. Freshwater is not always available. Fuel stoves only. Campfires prohibited.