Updated: Jun 18, 2020
If you haven’t been to Tassie its hard to explain to others just how beautiful the place is, how much history is abound and really just how awesome the whole island is, well Cockle Creek ( but commonly known as Cockle Bay or Recherche Bay ) is another place that has that wow factor.
Located right down at the bottom of the island its the most southern point where you can camp, explore and learn more about the area. The nearest ‘town’ is Southport to the north where you can grab a few essentials but be prepared to pay a bit more. Back in the 1800’s Southport was in fact the 2nd largest town in Tassie and it was going to be the capital of the apple state due to the industry ( whaling, timber and its sea port ) plus being a penal settlement.
Amazingly it was back in 1793 when Charles Beaupre sailed past on the L’Esperance with Bruni D’Entrecasteaux who were mapping the coastline and substantially the bay that this area was named.
These days Cockle Bay is a stunning area to setup camp and just relax. Theres about 6km of free camping along the bay where you’ll find pit toilets and secluded camping spots. The road from Southport to the bay is all dirt and when I was there it was pretty rough - but still an easy drive down. The bay is pretty sheltered from the crap weather that the south can generate, and often the bay is just like a glassy lake. From camp there’s a few walks you can tackle along the coastline - along pristine sandy beaches and rocky headlands. Mid way along keep an eye out for the boys grave in the bush with a timber rail around - a very stark reminder just how isolated this spot used to be.
An easy 50 min walk for most it’ll lead you down to an old pilots building and remnants of the old light house. The building is a reminder of the past hidden amongst tree ferns and pines. The other bigger walk from camp is to head out to South Cape Bay which is the absolute south most point of Tassie, its remote, harsh and wild but well worth the 2 hour hike.
Cockle Bay was a whaling area and even tho its a controversial and sad topic a life size statue of a baby Blue Whale with info is a stark reminder on the areas history out at Whale Lookout, highly recommend the easy 10 min walk out to the viewing point. An array of info boards generate history and tales of the area dating back to the late 1700’s when the first explorers sighted the coastline plus whaling history.
Midway along the camping grounds there’s the old cemetery which has signs or neglect but still pretty interesting to wander around. Back in 1850 this area was set aside for the town of Ramsgate and at boom times nearly 300 people called this place home - just think of the remoteness of the area back in the late 1800’s. Today there’s only 12 marked graves and another 10 unmarked ones with the latest being buried was back in 1930.
For a little 4wding half way between Cockle Creek and Southport - keep an eye out for the Lagoon Track, rated as between hard and medium. Its just under 10km along and is slow going, BUT, to say its an extreme track is going a bit too far. I’ll agree it was rocky ( only because the grader scraped away all the dirt ), there was a couple of low spots so maybe water is a problem, but def not extreme.
At the end you’ll be rewarded with a great campsite with clean dunnies, plenty of fresh water, fire pits and a decent boat ramp to the bay. When I ventured in there no other campers were around, and pretty easy to tow in there if you’ve got a semi offroad camper. Only down side is that the sandflies get a bit savage when there’s no breeze. Probably wouldn’t go all the way back in as the camping, atmosphere, walking trails and the bay was a lot better down at Cockle Creek.
At night there were Tassie Devils cruising through the camps looking for scraps. During the day the bay is a great spot to go fishing or to dip your toes ( I’m sure during summer swimming would be fine tho ), but just kicking back in this beautiful spot is the real deal. Trust me when I go back I’ll be spending more than two nights here plus its only 2 hours south of the stunning city of Hobart.