Ocean Beach: West Coast of Tasmania
by Mike Fry
Ocean Beach is one of Tasmania’s most magnificent beaches with over 36km of sandy beach. The Great Southern Ocean is to one side; and the wilderness of the west coast to the other. The beach stretches north to Trial Harbour and south to Hell’s Gates.
Henty and Little Henty Rivers
Within that stretch are two major river crossings at the Henty and Little Henty Rivers. At times the mouth of both rivers can be blocked by sand bars. At other times the rivers can be raging torrents flowing directly into the sea. Crossing at times of strong flow can be fraught with danger. Care is needed, whether travelling by vehicle or by foot.
Ocean Beach is located in the western wilderness region near Strahan, one of the busier Tasmanian tourism towns. But you still may find yourself being the only person on the beach… for miles and miles! A local fisherman might wave, passing by in their four wheel drive. Or you may encounter a local walking their dog. Ocean Beach could be compared to Queensland’s Fraser Island, where the beaches also seem to go on for ever.
Birdwatching, Seals, Sea Lions & Whales
Birdwatching enthusiasts will be rewarded. Pied Oystercatchers, Double-banded Plovers, a variety of gulls, sea eagles and the occasional Wedge-tailed Eagle frequent the area. At night platypus have been seen paddling in the myriad of freshwater streams flowing from the sand dunes.
Seals and sea lions frequently rest on the sands of Ocean Beach. The wildlife does not like to be disturbed, but can be admired and photographed from a safe distance. Unfortunately over the years, many whales have been stranded on this site. Sometimes the bones of these massive creatures protrude from the sand or dunes.
Fishing at Ocean Beach, but not Swimming!
The sport of fishing is a favourite pastime with Tasmanian locals and visitors to Ocean Beach. There’s great potential for a catch of fish: salmon, squid and flathead for starters. Both the Henty River and Little Henty River are known for trout fishing, especially during the whitebait season.
Swimming is not recommended at Ocean Beach due to the rips and strong undercurrents. Even on calm days, strong swimmers can be deceived by the sea here. Deep ruts and channels, scoured out by the waves, can bring you undone as you wade into the surf.
You might also like to hear that this beach is well known for catching the odd shark! The waters, filled with schools of fish, often attract them. But by all means go for a paddle on the waters edge, while wary of the strong tidal surges. As many four wheel drive owners have found, even vehicles can be quickly consumed by the sand.
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