Douglas Apsley National Park declared a National Park in 1989 after public protest against clearing local forests for the paper manufacture.
This hike through the gorge can be done at low water level only. After heavy rainfall, the Apsley River is flooded. Check the weather forecast first. Don't hike through the gorge if there is much rain forecasted. Even roads can get flooded. One day after our hike in November 16 we experienced flooded roads, closed trails, and landslides. A couple of trails got destroyed.
The Apsley River waterhole is popular for swimming in the summer. We saw several people having a look to the waterhole, but none of them hiked the trail through the gorge. It’s still a hidden gem compared to Freycinet.
Pleasant temps around 20° C in the summer from December to March. Nights can be cold. More precipitation in summer. Warmest month on average is January. Winter with mild temps on average around 5-13° C. Frost is not common. In general, the eastern part of Tasmania is much drier than the western. Bear in mind it’s Tasmania rain can always occur.
It is a marvelous experience; to see penguins in small groups arriving ashore, walking and jumping up the rocks to their burrows.
To spot a higher number of Fairy Penguins or Little Blue Penguins the main breeding season in November and December is the best time of the year. September, October, and January around 100 and less arrive after sunset at the shore. Usually, you spot a higher number of penguins at high tide, because the little blue have to walk less distance to their nests. It's pretty tricky where they get out of the water and walk over the huge boulders. You can watch them in the evening without a tour but please don't disturb them, don't block their way, don't use a torch just a red light, and don't pet them! If they get disturbed they may disappear in Bicheno.
You may see blue penguins throughout the year in Bicheno and Tasmania but a few only in winter. During summer, you spot plenty of them. However, wildlife is not predictable. Especially in winter, it can happen that none of them come ashore.
Seasonal Penguin Activities
- Building their nest from April/May to August
- Laying eggs from August to December
- Chick raising from August until January
- Moulting from February to April/May
It's busier with a lot more visitors in summer from December to February, but not extremely crowded. Tip: Book your hotel ahead of time (read more below). There are less visitors in winter and spring but also fewer penguins to spot.
Accommodation Tips (With Penguins in the Garden)
You will love to stay here at least two nights to increase your chance to spot them. IMPORTANT: Book well in advance if you visit in the high season. Otherwise you'll risk fully booked accommodations! However, even in low season you'll save money if you book in advance! Hiking Tip: Our favorite hike nearby is the Apsley River Gorge Trail which is not much crowded. Stay in one of the very view private properties where the little blue nest in the gardens. One of these vacation homes is the Cod Rock Poin (via booking.com with price guarantee), perfectly situated. However, don't get to close, no camera flashlight or torch, only red light for obvious reasons! Another highlight in Bicheno is the Bicheno Blowhole at high tide:
Are you getting to Tasmania from Melbourne or Sydney? If it's Melbourne stay there for a night close to St. Kilda and watch their huge penguin colony at day and night. For Bicheno, you'll find more deals below (Tip: Click 'See all deals' and then bookmark the results):