Tourism Industry Coincil Tasmania

Find your Way to Low Head

For those who like to “go off the beaten track” you will find our little piece of paradise on a windswept peninsula 40 minutes north of Launceston where the Tamar finds its way to Bass Strait. We are the quiet achievers, having the third oldest lighthouse in Australia which has been operating continuously since 1833, oldest continuous pilot service since 1805, convict-built buildings that are the oldest group of pilot buildings in Australia that were around at the time when John Batman and John Pascoe Faulkner sailed past on their way to found Melbourne in 1835. 

Like the constant changing tides, Low Head has experienced the highs and the lows with a history of 7 devastating shipwrecks, beginning with the Hebe in 1804 to which the notorious reef at the mouth of the Tamar was named, to more recent times with the Iron Baron in 1995 which had a devastating impact on marine and bird life including Low Head’s resident penguins. Low Head was the site for the landing of the first telegraph cable from Cape Otway on the mainland in 1859 which enabled Tasmania to be linked to the rest of the world. In the year 2001, a group of dedicated volunteers restored the Low Head foghorn, which had been installed at the Low Head Lighthouse in 1929 and decommissioned in 1973, back to its former glory, making it the only operational “G” type diaphone in the world.   Every Sunday at 12 pm you can hear “the magnificent roar of a thousand elephants echoed through the Low Head area and beyond” when it is sounded.  

Today the historic buildings of the Low Head Pilot Station precinct are home to the Museum, Seafood Shack, and Visitor Accommodation.   The Museum is a testament to the bravery of the maritime pilots throughout history who used their skills and daring to board vessels and safely navigate them through the dangerous Tamar Heads, avoiding dangerous reefs while battling strong currents and huge seas.  The Museum is housed in the 1835 convict-built Pilots Row and has 13 rooms dedicated to telling the exciting story of life at the Low Head Pilot Station with plenty of “hands on” interactive exhibits.  Children are allowed to touch and steer the ships helm, ring the ships bell, and send messages in Morse Code. The Museum is managed by a friendly volunteer committee who are passionate about promoting Low Head’s nautical history. 

Nearby in the old Coxswain’s House is the Low Head Pilot Station Seafood Shack, which is fully licensed and offers casual, relaxed dining with water views.  Menu items include fresh local seafood such as crumbed shark, with fries, green salad and house made tartare sauce, crumbed Tassie scallops, with lemon and rosemary salt, signature salt and pepper calamari, and Southern fried chicken burgers, with lettuce, pickles, cheese, aioli, and smoky BBQ sauce on a brioche bun.  You have the option of eating in or taking food and drinks outside to enjoy down by the water's edge or on the adjacent lawn where children can freely run around and play.  The Seafood Shack evokes feelings of summer vibes and nostalgia of fish and chips on the beach. 

Stay overnight in one of the 10 heritage homes and cottages that are part of the Pilot Station precinct which includes the old Light Keepers Shack with its panoramic views over Bass Strait, The Queenslander with its wrap around veranda which is ideal for accommodating large or extended families and the beautifully restored 1877 chapel which has been converted into boutique accommodation.  Other accommodation options in the Low Head area can be found at East Beach Tourist Park set on 22 acres of absolute beach frontage and Low Head Tourist Park which offers stunning views of the Tamar.  Both tourist parks offer affordable and well-appointed self-contained accommodation plus powered and unpowered sites for caravans, motorhomes, and campers with access to amenities.  The Low Head Beach House, with picturesque views over Lagoon Beach, is suited for those seeking absolute luxury.  For those wishing to indulge further, a personal chef can be added to your stay.  

If you love nature and a memorable night out, then the evening penguin tour is right up your alley.  Low Head Penguin Tours was founded in 1996 in the aftermath of the Iron Baron disaster.   27 years later, there are now approximately 2,000 to 4,000 blue penguins in Low Head.  The local guides take 10-15 people at a time to protect the birds and respect their habitat but still ensure everyone has an experience they can remember.  

Low Head is a place where history and nature collide and where good times and memories can be made. Just follow the light to the end of the road to discover it all for yourself.  

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Tasmania has fast become a popular destination for mountain biking. Located just under 1 hour from Launceston Airport and 90 minutes from the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry terminal in Devonport, Low Head is the perfect first stop on your Tasmanian mountain biking holiday due to its proximity to Tasmania’s newest purpose-built, world-class trail network that is complimented with a plethora of family friendly activities and attractions in the area, making it the ideal gateway before heading east to Derby and St Helens.  Low Head is best visited during the daylight savings months of October to end of March where you can take advantage of the longer days to fit more in and suitable weather that is not too wet or too cool for enjoying many outdoor pursuits including caravanning and camping.

In the early morning, disembark from the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry or load up the hire car or campervan from Launceston Airport and make your way to Low Head. If you are travelling east from Devonport, take the Frankford Road towards Exeter and then follow the directions from there to George Town and Low Head.  Travel across the kanamaluka/Tamar River via the scenic Batman Bridge which was built between 1966 and 1968 and is the oldest cable-stayed bridge in Australia. Connect to the East Tamar Highway and then head north towards George Town and then to Low Head.  If travelling through Launceston take the East Tamar Highway and head north. Pull in at the George Town Visitor Information Centre located on the left as you enter George Town and be warmly welcomed by the volunteers.

Make your way to Low Head Tourist Park where you will be greeted by the friendly staff who will allocate you a site or direct you to your self-contained cabin or cottage and point out all park facilities such as toilets, showers, kids’ playground, barbecue areas and camp kitchen. They will offer local advice and information in the area and will have maps and brochures on hand. Find your site or accommodation, unhitch, set up camp and settle in. Book the penguin tour for the following evening and plan the next day’s activities before enjoying a peaceful night’s sleep.

Day One

In the morning drive or enjoy a leisurely bike ride along the kanamaluka Trail to the Low Head Pilot Station precinct. Explore “Low Head’s living history’ at the nearby Pilot Station Museum. Walk, ride, or drive up to the Low Head Lighthouse and take in the panoramic views over Bass Strait and the surrounding scenery.  Every Sunday at 12 pm you will “hear the magnificent roar of a thousand elephants echoed through the Low Head area and beyond” as the foghorn is blasted from the Light house.   Enjoy a lunch of fish and chips, fish tacos and burgers from locally sourced fresh fish and seafood followed by ice cream or coffee at the Low Head Pilot Station Seafood Shack. Stroll along the water’s edge and see the “Paterson” Pilot boat berthed at the marina.  

Load up the mountain bikes and drive out to the Mt George Mountain Bike Trails.  From the trail head you can climb your way to the top via “Keystone” or go around via “Sticky Beak” and then climb “Roca Del Vista” to the Bell Bay View lookout and back via “Helter Smelter” and “Desperado”.  All 5 trails are rated as easy or “green”.

The next destination further down the road is the Tippogoree Hills Trails which encompasses a total of 12 easy or “green” trails.  Enjoy the tranquil “Kuwara” trail around the lake and the flowing trails of the “Lower Tipp” section.  Take advantage of Send It Shuttles to shuttle you to the “Upper Tipp” Trails.

Alternatively, head to one of Low Head’s many safe swimming beaches, build sandcastles, paddle a kayak, or perhaps find an ideal spot to throw in a line and try and catch a fish or two.  

After a big afternoon head back into George Town and visit Main Street Meats to grab some provisions for your Barbecue dinner back at camp or utilise one of George Town’s or Low Head’s beachside barbecue areas.   Kids will love the pump track and the playground with flying fox at Regent Square or the “Pirate Ship” play area at Windmill Point in George Town.  Alternatively, order takeaway pizzas from either Dino’s, Don Mario’s, or Café 1069 or dine in and enjoy a steak or “parmi” at The Pier Hotel or family friendly Gray’s Hotel.

After dinner, briefly relax and unwind at your accommodation or campsite. Go for a brief walk and take some stunning sunset photos along the water’s edge.  Later that evening, rug up and make your way to the meeting point for the nightly penguin tour in Low Head. The adventure packed day concludes with watching the Low Head penguins waddle their way home.  

Day Two

Wake up in the morning and enjoy a relaxing walk along East Beach or Lagoon Beach (or perhaps a refreshing morning dip).  Early birds will be treated to a spectacular sunrise on the horizon from East Beach or from the Low Head Lighthouse. In the distance see the ships out at sea waiting for the Pilot to guide them safely into the Tamar. Grab a coffee or milkshake and a freshly baked muffin or slice of banana bread from the Low Head Seafood Shack for morning tea. Fill in the rest of the day heading back out and enjoying more of Low Head’s beaches or George Town’s Mountain bike trails before making the journey east to Derby.  Contemplate staying another night or returning later if time permits.