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September 2023

Hell's Gate (Tasmania) fly through

by Jack and Jude 9 Jan 2018 06:27 UTC 9 January 2018
Satellite image of Cape Sorell and Hells Gate © Jack and Jude

Using our compact Mavic Drone we are now able to fly over anchorages and entrances to provide a better idea of what awaits the visiting mariner. Over time we hope to compile a library of places we visit. The first of these is Hell’s Gate, one of the most feared and respected entrances in Australian waters situated halfway down the wild wet west Tasmanian coast that was first discovered by the young mariner James Kelly when on a voyage of discovery.

In December 1815 Kelly left Hobart in command of an expedition to circumnavigate Tasmania using the whaleboat Elizabeth. The party made the official discovery of Port Davey on the south west coast, and on 28 December of Macquarie Harbour on the central west coast. Features within the harbour were named the Gordon River after the owner of the Elizabeth and Birchs Inlet after Kelly’s employer and sponsor Thomas Birch.

The name Hells Gate came from the pitiful convicts transported to the Sarah Island Penal Colony after they beheld the utter isolation and harsh countryside. Notwithstanding that, the name also described the treacherous shoal-bound entry where many ships have been lost. So many in fact that the British closed the Sarah Island penal colony after only 10 years, where even without fences, only one of many escapees managed to find their way across the island while others succumb to the cannibalism of their inmates.

Today there is a man-made training wall that keeps the channel from silting up, but it stills contains fast flowing currents through its wandering channel that has sand banks and rocks either side. Get our Tasmania Cruising Guide for full details.

This article has been provided by courtesy of Jack and Jude.

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