De Witt Island

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De Witt Island
Nickname: Big Witch
De Witt Island Map.png
Detailed map of De Witt Island
De Witt Island is located in Tasmania
De Witt Island
De Witt Island
Location off the southern coast of Tasmania
Etymology Witt, a Commissioner of the Dutch East India Company[1]
Location South West Tasmania
Coordinates 43°35′24″S 146°21′00″E / 43.59000°S 146.35000°E / -43.59000; 146.35000Coordinates: 43°35′24″S 146°21′00″E / 43.59000°S 146.35000°E / -43.59000; 146.35000
Archipelago Maatsuyker Islands Group
Adjacent bodies of water Southern Ocean
Area 516 ha (1,280 acres)[2]:18
Width 3 km (1.9 mi)[3]
Highest elevation 340 m (1,120 ft)[3]
State Tasmania
Region South West
Population Unpopulated
Additional information
Register of the National Estate

De Witt Island, also known as Big Witch, is an island located close to the south-western coast of Tasmania, Australia. The 516-hectare (1.99 sq mi) island is the largest of the Maatsuyker Islands Group, and comprises part of the Southwest National Park and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site. The island is listed on the Australian Register of the National Estate.[2]

Location and features[edit]

De Witt Island lies some 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south of Louisa Bay, on Tasmania's south coast. The island is broadly triangular in shape, some 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) across, with cliffs ranging from 250 to 300 metres (820 to 980 ft) high to the south on all sides except a part of the central north coast. The highest parts of the island are located very close to the south coast, and enclose a north-facing basin. The island's 340-metre (1,120 ft) summit is located very close to its southernmost point.[3] Although currently uninhabited, it has a long history of human usage, including logging and occasional habitation.[2][4] The island is part of the Maatsuyker Island Group Important Bird Area, identified as such by BirdLife International because of its importance as a breeding site for seabirds.[5]

The island is extensively forested with the principal species being Eucalyptus nitida, Swamp Gum and Messmate. Sheltered areas also have Leatherwood and Myrtle Beech.[2]

Recorded breeding seabird and wader species are the little penguin (500 pairs), short-tailed shearwater (11,000 pairs), fairy prion (50 pairs), silver gull and sooty oystercatcher. Swift parrots have been recorded. Mammals present include the Tasmanian pademelon, long-nosed potoroo and swamp rat. Reptiles recorded are the metallic skink and Tasmanian tree skink.[2][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Heeres, J. E. (Editor) (2006). "Abel Janszoon Tasman's Journal of his Discovery of Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand in 1642 with Documents Relating to his Exploration of Australia in which are added his Life and Labours, 1898". Project Gutenberg of Australia. Retrieved 9 July 2006. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Small Southern Islands Conservation Management Statement 2002" (PDF). Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2006. 
  3. ^ a b c Dixon, G.; Houshold, I (1996). "Notes on the geology and geomorphology of De Witt Island, southwest Tasmania.". Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 130 (1): 67–74. ISSN 0080-4703. 
  4. ^ a b Brothers, Nigel; Pemberton, David; Pryor, Helen; & Halley, Vanessa. (2001). Tasmania’s Offshore Islands: seabirds and other natural features. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: Hobart. ISBN 0-7246-4816-X
  5. ^ BirdLife International. (2011). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Maatsuyker Island Group. Downloaded from on 09/08/2011.