Devonport, a coastal shipping port in north west Tasmania, offered up a surprise or two.
Arriving in Devonport Tasmania
My first encounter was very fleeting: arriving on the Spirit of Tasmania in the wee small hours of the morning before exiting via the main highway towards Launceston, about an hour’s drive away. The town was still in darkness and the inside of the quarantine station was about the extent of any sightseeing.
Devonport and the Spirit of Tasmania
Vehicle and passenger ferries named Spirit of Tasmania cross Bass Strait daily (sometimes even twice) between Melbourne on the mainland and Devonport in Tasmania. It’s a leisurely alternative to flying and a convenient way to bring your own wheels and lots of extra luggage.
The local authorities have made the most of their town’s attraction with perfectly placed viewing and photography platforms on the Mersey River. While taking photos of the Spirit of Tasmania docking, I was amused by the passengers, all waving madly. Obviously they were happy to arrive. Hopefully this was a sign they were keen to start their holiday. Not a sign that seas had been rough, and they were glad to arrive in one piece!
Latrobe: The House of Anvers
About 10 minutes from Devonport along the Bass Highway I discovered the small township of Latrobe, home to the House of Anvers. Housed in a Californian bungalow with lovely garden surrounds, the boutique Belgian chocolate factory had an adjoining cafe. My visit happened to coincide with Mothers Day, and the place was packed. Next time I’ll make it a week-day so the factory is operational. The static displays were fascinating, and I can definitely recommend the product. Yes I did taste, but all in the name of research, of course!
Devonport Lighthouse and Mersey Bluff
The extensive recreational precinct at Mersey Bluff included a large tennis complex offering great facilities. There seemed to be hundreds of children involved in soccer and football on the adjacent fields. The whole area gave the impression of a council with excellent planning and community pride. There was just a really nice vibe about the whole town. For anyone interested in lighthouses, there’s a very impressive version at the top of the cliff facing Bass Strait.
Exploring some of the surrounding townships from this home base was easy. The coastal drive between Devonport and Penguin was brilliant. It is Tasmania, after all; what else would you expect? The family-oriented attractions part-way at Ulverstone foreshore included pedal buggies, a wicked playground and a water slide. Keeping the kids happy on the drive, always a good thing.
The Penguin community gardening project on the foreshore was quite inspiring. And there was a big penguin. Apparently one of the most photographed statues in the state, I added to that statistic with my snap.
We read that Penguin Tasmania could claim Russell Robertson (former Melbourne AFL legend) as a local. Nothing else puts a town on the map like a superstar. Although the local colony of furry namesakes might have something to say about that?
What Else To Know About Devonport?
At the time of my visit (and subject to change after publication, as always)…
- you could view penguins in the wild (free of charge) nearby
- there was an Imaginarium Science Centre
- the Penguin market was very highly regarded
- the Australian Weaving Mills Factory Outlet was open for business
Devonport is the marital home of Joseph Lyons and his wife Dame Enid Lyons if you’re a political history buff. And if you need even more incentive to visit Devonport… did I mention delectable chocolates?
Devonport Cabin Accommodation
A day-trip may not be sufficient to uncover all the delights of the area. We were lucky to secure a cabin in East Devonport, which turned out to be exceptional value, very clean and had all the essentials for anyone travelling with a family.