Port Davey

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Port Davey is an inlet on the south west coast of Tasmania. It was named after the then Governor of Tasmania, Thomas Davey.[1]

Location and features[edit]

It lies between the ocean and Bathurst Harbour, which is linked by the Bathurst Channel. The inlet leads north into Payne Bay (into which Davey River flows), with Payne Bay being defined by the features of Davey Head to the west, and Mount Berry to the east.

The eastern aspect (Joe Page Bay, and Bathurst Harbour) is sheltered from the Roaring Forties that buffet the south and west coasts of Tasmania by a narrow part of the inlet that effectively makes the land to the south a peninsula. The north south ranges on the peninsula South West Cape Range, and Melaleuca Range lie to the west of the Southwest Conservation area which is a section of land excluded from the South West National Park that exists between Melaleuca Inlet (on the south side of Bathurst Harbour) and Cox Bight on the south coast.[2]

It is the penultimate waypoint on the western part of the South Coast Walking Track – also known as South Coast and Port Davey Tracks.

Port Davey is not populated, but for many years Deny King and family resided at Melaleuca, engaged in alluvial tin mining. Since the death of Deny King in 1991, the family retain a leasehold within the national park and are actively involved in conservation programs but are not permanently resident.[3]


Port Davey lies within the Melaleuca to Birchs Inlet Important Bird Area.[4] as well as the Southwest National Park which in turn is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.


The French navigator Marion du Fresne was the first European to record the inlet now called Port Davey, in March 1772. On 13 December 1798, when Flinders was off the West Coast, he mentioned Marion's small chart of the area, and tried to take the Norfolk in closer to investigate the opening marked on Marion's chart. That opening was clearly marked on Flinders' first map of "Van Diemen's Land" Published in 1800. James Kelly has always been seen as the first to discover Port Davey – However Kelly would have seen Flinders' maps and may have had them with him.

In the 1800s, a small piners settlement and boatyard was located on Payne Bay on Port Davey's north. The settlement remained until the 1900s when the Huon Pine trade ceased. Another temporary settlement was located at Bramble Cove behind the Breaksea Islands to serve the whaling industry in the early 1800s. Nothing remains of the site except for a few huon pine headstones from an old cemetery.

The Bathurst Harbour/Port Davey area was marked on early 1800s maps as being the site for a settlement named Bathurst. The exact location of the proposed settlement varied depending on the map. Locations included Bramble Cove, Joe Page Bay below Mount Mackenzie and the Rowitta Plains. By the Victorian era, cartographers discontinued marking the settlement along with others such as Montgomery south of the Spero River, Cracroft on the Arthur Plains and Huntley in the Upper Florentine Forests west of Mount Field National Park.

The pioneer aviator Francis McClean organized and led an expedition to Port Davey to observe the May 9, 1910 solar eclipse.[5][6]

In the late 1930s, the British Zionist League considered a number of other places where a Jewish homeland could be established. The Kimberley region in Australia was considered until the Curtin government (in office: 1941–1945) rejected the possibility.[7] Later and with the support of the then Premier of Tasmania, Robert Cosgrove (in office from 1939), Critchley Parker proposed a Jewish settlement at Port Davey, in south west Tasmania.[8] Parker surveyed the area, but his death in 1942 put an end to the idea. See Other Possibilities for A Homeland For the Jewish People

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The romance of Australian place names.". The Australian Women's Weekly (National Library of Australia). 27 May 1964. p. 59. Retrieved 14 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Tasmanian wilderness world heritage area.Australian Geographic. 2003 Scale 1:400 000. Supplement to issue 72, October–December 2003.
  3. ^ King, Mary; Janet King Fenton (14 October 2013). "Rainbow Country: South-West Tasmania as Inspiration for Shute's "The Rainbow and the Rose"". The Rainbow Connection. Nevil Shute Conference (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia: Neil Shute Foundation). 
  4. ^ "IBA: Melaleuca to Birchs Inlet". Birdata. Birds Australia. Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  5. ^ Report of the Solar Eclipse Expedition to Port Davey, Tasmania, May, 1910 by F. K. McClean and Others
  6. ^ Lockyer, Sir Norman; Group, Nature Publishing; Gateway, UM-Medsearch (23 June 1910). "THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE OF May 9, 1910". Nature 83 (2121): 494–495. doi:10.1038/083494a0. 
  7. ^ "Haven". Retrieved 6 November 2010. 
  8. ^ Duffy, Conor (18 January 2010). "The plan for a Jewish homeland in Tasmania". The 7.30 Report. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 November 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gee, Helen and Fenton, Janet (eds) (1978) The South West Book: A Tasmanian Wilderness. Hawthorn, Vic: Australian Conservation Foundation. ISBN 0-85802-054-8; later edition, same title (1983) Sydney, NSW: William Collins Pty. Ltd., ISBN 0-00-217305-0
  • South West Tasmania Resources Survey. (1981) Bathurst Harbour – Old River catchment Sandy Bay, Tas: Steering Committee, SWTRS. ISBN 0-7246-1010-3 Working paper (South West Tasmania Resources Survey); no.21.


  • Kelly, James, 1791-1859. First discovery of Port Davey and Macquarie Harbour [microform] p. 160-181 "Royal Society of Tasmania: Papers and Proceedings, 1920. Issued separately 24th December, 1920" Microfiche. Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2004


Coordinates: 43°20′S 145°56′E / 43.33°S 145.94°E / -43.33; 145.94