Hells Gates (Tasmania)

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Hells Gates is also the name of a gorge on the Davey River in the south west region of Tasmania.

Hells Gates is the name of the mouth of Macquarie Harbour on the West Coast of Tasmania.[1]

It is a notoriously shallow and dangerous channel entrance to the harbour. The actual channel is between Macquarie Heads on the west and Entrance Island on the east (the main length of the harbour runs southeast of Hells Gates). There is a wider area of water between Entrance Island and Macquarie Head, but it is too shallow to get a boat over.

Hells Gates, viewed from outside. Entrance Island is on the left. Bonnet Island lighthouse is visible in the distance.

Braddon Point is the name of the feature on the eastern shore, while the shallow water south of the point is named Fraser Flats, and the channel adjacent to the breakwater is known as Kelly Channel.

Name origins[edit]

The name of the channel relates to the original convicts' claim that it was their point of 'entrance to Hell', their Hell being the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station on Sarah Island and the outlying surrounds of the harbour.[2]

Breakwater and channel[edit]

Between 1900 and 1902 the Macquarie Harbour Entrance Works [3] involved the building of a breakwater and the channel was dredged. Parts of the breakwater can still be seen despite the passage of time. The Strahan Marine Board [4] was involved with the monitoring of the mouth until 19 May 1970, when the Hobart Marine Board took over.


Both Entrance and Bonnet Islands have lights, and they were built before the Cape Sorell lighthouse.[5]

Charts and maps[edit]

Due to the precarious entrance, and the changes in the hydrology of the area, charts and maps were updated regularly while Strahan was a port of importance – some of these maps are now available online, for example [6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Geoscience Australia ("Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 April 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) ) has three other locations in Tasmania using the same name – the Macquarie harbour entrance is the only official usage:
    • Hells Gates Unofficial Lat -42 22 Long 146 50
    • Hells Gates Unofficial Lat -42 12 Long 145 28
    • Hells Gates Unofficial Lat -41 37 Long 145 3
  2. ^ Maxwell-Stewart, Hamish (2008) Closing Hell's Gates, the death of a convict station Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin ISBN 978-1-74175-149-9. – the title alone, and chapter two voyage through the gates of hell, similarly Collins, Paul (2002). Hell's Gates: the terrible journey of Alexander Pearce, Van Dieman's land cannibal. South Yarra: Hardie Grant Books. ISBN 1-74064-083-7. and * Pink, Kerry. (1984) Through Hells Gates ( A History of Strahan and Macquarie Harbour). Strahan, 1984. ISBN 0-646-36665-3
  3. ^ "Macquarie Harbour". The Mercury. Hobart, Tasmania. 14 June 1911. p. 5. Retrieved 8 October 2012 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Marine Board of Strahan (Tas.) (1936), Rules and regulations of the Marine Board, with illustrations of day and night signals for the Macquarie Heads Signal Station, Government Printer, retrieved 8 October 2012
  5. ^ http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/15004/20060511-0000/www.lighthouse.net.au/Lights/TAS/Hells%20Gate/Hells%20Gate.html
  6. ^ http://search.slv.vic.gov.au/primo_library/libweb/action/dlDisplay.do?vid=MAIN&reset_config=true&docId=SLV_VOYAGER1298992


  • Blainey, Geoffrey (2000). The Peaks of Lyell (6th ed.). Hobart: St. David's Park Publishing. ISBN 0-7246-2265-9.
  • Kok, Arjan. A Pictorial History of Strahan. Hobart, No Date. No ISBN.
  • Loney, J. K. (1982) Wrecks at Hell's Gates Portarlington, Vic. Marine History Publications, ISBN 0-909191-21-2
  • Whitham, Charles (2003). Western Tasmania – A land of riches and beauty (Reprint 2003 ed.). Queenstown: Municipality of Queenstown.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°13′9″S 145°13′12″E / 42.21917°S 145.22000°E / -42.21917; 145.22000