Low Head is a suburb of George Town, Tasmania, on a peninsula at the mouth of the Tamar River, 5 kilometres north-west of the town centre. It is a popular snorkel and scuba diving area during much of the year, with extensive wide, unspoiled beaches.
George Town is a large town in north-east Tasmania, on the eastern bank of the mouth of the Tamar River. It is Australia’s third-oldest settlement after Sydney and Hobart and has a rich maritime past and industrial present.
Things to Do
East Beach is located on the eastern side of Low Head and is the closest surfing beach to George Town and consequently a relatively popular beach.
The Low Head Surf Life Saving Club operated at the beach between 1950 and 1984. The beach is relatively exposed to westerly waves, which average 1 m, but can be considerably higher during strong winds. East Beach is a moderately hazardous beach owing to its exposure to higher westerly waves and the presence of rips at low tide. The safest swimming is at the more popular western end, toward high tide and close inshore. Be careful of the rips at low tide and the increasing rocks to the east. This is a popular surfing spot for the Launceston surfers and one of the first places to check out. It usually has beach breaks with conditions determined by the waves, wind and state of the tide. There is road access and car park at the western end of the beach.
LOW HEAD PENGUIN TOURS
Low Head Penguin Tours was started in 1996 by Shirley Lincoln, the year after the Iron Barron disaster. Some nights about 200 penguins arrive on the beach at once. Shirley believes it is really important to be respectful of the penguins safety and also their environment. There are approximately 2000 to 4000 penguins in Low Head, and the most common breed is probably the blue penguin, or Eudyptula minor. The tours consist of small groups of 10-15 at a time in order to protect the birds and make sure everyone has an experience they can remember, getting up close and personal with the penguins. The local guides make sure that everyone gets to discover these beautiful birds while protecting their habitat.
LOW HEAD LIGHT HOUSE
Low Head Light House is the third oldest light station in the Commonwealth after the Macquarie lighthouse (near Sydney 1818) and Iron Pot (Derwent River near Hobart). The first lighthouse was built in 1833, to a design by John Lee Archer. It was replaced by the present lighthouse in 1890. It is still in service, although is now fully automated. It is also the home of one of only two operating foghorns in Australia and and the only full operational Type ‘G’ system in the world. In service from 1927 to 1973 it has now been restored and is sounded at noon each Sunday.
LOW HEAD PILOT STATION AND MUSEUM
Low Head Pilot Station, situated at the mouth of the Tamar River in northern Tasmania, is the oldest group of pilot buildings in Australia. While it was the first station to operate it is the third oldest pilot service after the private operations of Sydney and Hobart. The pilot service dates from 1805, with the appointment of William House as Harbour Master at Port Dalrymple, and the first building on the site was probably in 1806. The pilot service still operates from this site today.
THE WATCH HOUSE
The Watch House is the historic old gaol site and features a range of displays conveying the regions rich history.
The present building was built in 1843 and was reopened in 2004 as part of George Town's Bicentenary of European settlement. Features include a wonderful model village which allows visitors to imagine what early nineteenth century life was like in George Town, the acclaimed 'Departures and Arrivals' display describing the Female Factories and links to the convict experience, and a primitive cell where visitors can enter to get an idea of the tough life of prisoners awaiting trial. The Community History Room contains a wealth of local information for historians and those researching their ancestry.
The Watch House also houses changing displays featuring the best in Tasmanian arts and crafts.
THE BASS AND FLINDERS CENTRE
The Bass and Flinders Centre is centrally located in George Town on Tasmania's Tamar River. In 1798, the explorers Bass and Flinders were dispatched to 'Van Diemen's Land' to ascertain if Tasmania was an island or not. They sailed with a crew of eight in Her Majesty's Colonial Sloop Norfolk right into the Tamar River and anchored off what is now George Town.
In 1998, Bern Cuthbertson in the replica Norfolk, re-enacted the Bass and Flinders journey. Like Bass and Flinders, Bern established a relationship with George Town and asked if she could be berthed on the banks of the Tamar at George Town.
Bern and his team of volunteers in Hobart constructed the replica Norfolk. The hull is Huon Pine and the mast and deck are made out of Celery Top Pine. Not a screw or a nail was used - trunnels or treenails hold the vessel together.
The Bass and Flinders Centre is now the home of the replica sloop 'Norfolk', together with the 'Elizabeth', a replica of the whale boat rowed by James Kelly around Tasmania; the ex-naval cutter 'Kenneth Dickenson'; two old racing 'fours'; a banana boat surfboard and the gentle 'Melanie' and many more.
GEORGE TOWN TO LOW HEAD KANAMALUKA AND CYCLING TRAIL
The George Town to Low Head Kanamaluka Walking and Cycling Trail follows the Tamar River.
Suitable for walkers, runners and cyclists, this free and easily accessible trail was opened in 2011 and was designed to be used by people of all abilities. It is six kilometres in length and begins at York Cove in George Town. Cycling is one of the most enjoyable ways to experience the trail, and bicycle hire is available from the George Town Visitor Information Centre for use on the trail and around the George Town area. The Kanamaluka trail links together key historical sites and areas of natural beauty and wildlife interest, such as Lagoon Bay, York Cove, Windmill Point and the Low Head Pilot Station. You will learn lots along the way about Tasmanian wildlife, colonial and convict history and how Tasmania communicates with the rest of the world.
Places to Eat
Cove Bar and Restaurant – a homage to wholesome Tasmanian produce. Tasmania's enviable produce is the main character on the menu. Seasonal produce dictates the offerings at the George Town restaurant and accommodation destination, matched with local wines and boutique beers. From classic hits like beer battered market fish to more unique offerings such as the honey and aniseed pork belly, the menu is sympathetic to the integrity of Tasmania's produce.
Located on the main street of George Town, Grey's Hotel provides a good pub meal in a family friendly atmosphere. Bar and gaming machines. Thursday night is Parmy night.
THE PIER HOTEL
With a hint of country generosity and utilising the fresh local produce Tasmania is noted for, our talented chefs have created a range of enticing dishes to cover even the most discerning of tastes. Breathe the fresh air, and enjoy the superb views from our alfresco dining area. The sunsets can be magnificent from this area and the best part is, we don't charge a viewing fee. Feel like a chat. Why not move to either our Lounge bar or the Public Bar where the locals will certainly entertain you. The Public Bar has retained its old world charm and during winter has a roaring open fire to warm the cockles of your heart.
CHINESE DRAGON HOUSE RESTAURANT
Eat in or Take Away Chinese. Open for Lunch & Dinner
Visiting the Tamar Valley
The Tamar Valley stretches 60km from Bass Strait to Launceston, intersected by the Tamar River. The Batman Bridge unites the two shores near Deviot.
There is much to see and do along both sides of the river for foodies as the area is home to growers and producers of ciders, truffles, walnuts, berries, cherries olive oil and more.
If wine is more your thing, there are many magnificent and award wining wineries with superb views and wine tastings. A number also have restaurants showcasing local produce. For more information visit the Tamar Valley Wine Route
On the East Tamar
Low Head is located 5 kilometres north-west of George Town.
It is a popular snorkel and scuba diving area during much of the year, with extensive wide, unspoiled beaches.
While in Low Head you can visit the lighthouse, established in 1833. If visiting on a Sunday at noon, you will hear the Chance Bros. ‘Type G’ diaphone. It is the only operable foghorn of its type.
You can also visit the colony of fairy penguins with Low Head Penguin Tours who offer daily tours of an evening.
A little further down the road will bring you to the historic Low Head Pilot Station and Maritime Museum. It is the oldest group of pilot buildings in Australia. The pilot service dates from 1805 and still operates from this site today.
George Town is Australia’s third oldest settlement after Sydney and Hobart and has a rich maritime past.
On the main street you can find the Watch House, operating from a historic goal site. The Watch House contains many historical displays including a model village of early nineteenth century George Town.
Be sure to visit the Bass & Flinders Centre – the home of “The Norfolk”, the full sized replica of the ship that Bass and Flinders sailed from Sydney and around Tasmania in 1798.
15 minutes North heading towards Launceston you will find Hillwood, home of the Hillwood Berry Farm. Spend a relaxing morning or afternoon picking your own strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and more. Enjoy a drink and some delicious local produce at the farm gate cafe, or pick up some of the freshest produce from local farms, including Meander Valley Dairy, Southern Sky and Pyengana cheeses, as well as local wines.
Overlooking Anderson Bay, Bridport offers excellent river and sea fishing, bush walking and beach activities.
Australia’s top public golf course, Barnbougle Dunes, and its neighbouring Lost Farm golf course are just east of Bridport and built on sand dunes to mirror the classic wild courses of Scotland.
At nearby Nabowla you’ll find Bridestowe Lavender Estate, 260 acres of fragrant fields that bloom in December and January.
On the West Tamar
Just a 10 minutes drive from the heart of Launceston, is the Tamar Island Wetlands where you can walk through wetlands and across a river channel to the 7 hectare Tamar Island. For company you’ll have pelicans, swans, cormorants and numerous other bird species as well as frogs, dragonflies and lizards. The wetlands centre has displays and information.
Visit the Swiss Village at Grindelwald for a touch of Switzerland in Tasmania. Pop in for a bite to eat or visit the Chocolate shop for something sweet.
Further down the West Tamar Highway you will come to Brady’s Lookout. The Lookout offers beautiful views over the Tamar River and surrounding areas. There are excellent, fully accessible toilet and picnic facilities, including sheltered BBQs and a number of picnic tables.
Exeter is home to the popular Exeter Bakery and The Beehive, which is worth a visit for all things honey, Tasmanian whisky and gin. While there you can even watch a working beehive.
Further north will find you in Beaconsfield, a former gold mining town. Learn more about the town’s history and the events of the 2006 mine collapse at the Beaconsfield Mine and Heritage Centre.
In Beauty Point you will find plenty of dining options, while the waters of the Tamar River are ideal for kayaking, swimming and fishing.
You can also visit a working seahorse farm at Seahorse World or spend some time watching live Tasmanian platypus and echidnas at the Platypus House.