Devonport is a city on the northern coast which is known to anyone who has taken the Spirit of Tasmania ferry to and from Melbourne. It’s a great hub for exploring the northwest and there’s plenty to discover in the city itself as well. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful views and take advantage of the proximity of some of Tasmania’s most popular destinations, such as Cradle Mountain.
The city is situated where the Mersey River meets the Bass Strait coast. The main CBD is located on the west side of the Mersey. There visitors will find a pedestrian mall, shops, hotels, and restaurants.
If you are not planning to arrive via the ferry or airport, you can reach Devonport by car from Launceston (98 km), Burnie (47 km), Cradle Mountain (85km), or Hobart (277 km). Rail and coach options also exist. Image thanks to: MONA-Ferry.
As a hub for the northwest, many travelers rest their heads in this city, so there is no shortage of accommodation options. B&Bs, hotels, motels, cottages, self-contained apartments, caravan parks, and camping grounds are all available to those passing through.
The city is a wonderful place for both physical activities and intellectual pursuits. For the athletically inclined, there are numerous walking and cycling tracks in the city. By biking along the coastal trail to The Bluff one can encounter Aboriginal rock carvings. Water sports such as sailing, kayaking, rowing and fishing are also popular pursuits. Alternatively, relax on the beaches or install yourself in a charming park and enjoy the natural surroundings.
A ride on the Don River Railway steam train to Coles Beach (30-min return) is a nice way to entertain the entire family and see the sights along the eastern banks of the Don River.
For those interested in learning more about the history and culture of the region, there are several museums and galleries to explore.
On the waterfront, visit the The Bass Strait Maritime Center to learn more about the intriguing maritime history of the city. Located in the former Harbour Master's House, there is an extensive collection of objects, models and photographs that tell the stories of Bass Strait and Devonport. There are also exhibits which retell the exciting adventures of early explorers and shipwrecks.
Immerse yourself in Tasmanian art at the Devonport Regional Gallery. There is an annual program of exhibitions, events, and workshops, along with a collection of fine and decorative art and craft, with a predominant interest in 20th-century glass, ceramics and woodcraft.
Learn about the traditional lifestyle of Tasmanian Aboriginal people at the Tiagarra Aboriginal Culture Centre and Museum, which displays petroglyphs and designs in rock. Along the waterfront you’ll also find more galleries and craft shops.
In the suburb of Don a railway museum called the Don River Railway is also worth a visit for train enthusiasts. Image thanks to: Roaring 40's Kayaks and Tourism Tasmania & Melinda Ta.
This region boasts the fertile soil of the Mersey-Forth valley and an abundance of produce, so delicious food is easy to find in the city and its surroundings. Traditional pub fare along with modern cuisine can be found in the CBD, west of the Mersey.
In the mid-19th century the city of Devonport was actually composed of twin settlements Formby and Torquay, which were located on opposite banks at the mouth of the Mersey River. A river ferry service connected the communities and it wasn’t until 1890 that a public vote declared them united as the town known as Devonport.
The shipping industry featured prominently in its growth and the oldest standing building in town to this day is the Marine Board building, built in 1882. Once the mouth of the river was deepened, regular steamer services between Melbourne and Mersey began and contributed greatly to local commerce and trade. The Bluff lighthouse was completed in 1889.
The turn of the century brought even more progress and economic boost to the region in the form of railways. A wharf was created on the west bank, close to the railway and warehouses. The Victoria bridge was opened in 1902. A visitor can learn about the nautical and railway history in one of the several museums in the city.
Devonport was proclaimed a city by Prince Charles of Wales in 1981 in a ceremony conducted on the Devonport Oval. Image: Formby Devonport from Upper Mersey