Just a hop, skip and a jump from mainland Tasmania lies Goat Island. This two-peaked wonderland can be walked to at low tide across a rocky shelf. It is a geologist’s, photographer’s and inner-child’s paradise! You can see east to Ulverstone or west to the Three Sisters as well as discovering wonderful views beneath your feet. I ran around on the rock shelf like a happy kid (no pun intended!) for quite some time before reaching Goat Island proper.
While I’m not sure where the island got its name, Mr. Traversing Tasmania is a bit of a mountain goat, so he demonstrated one possibility by scampering up the steep, rocky slopes. I stayed down a little lower on “safer” ground but somehow managed to slip anyway! Small tracks will lead you around Goat Island, to the peaks, a cove and a very special cave.
I’ll get to the cave. First, you must explore the rocky cove with wonderful views of Bass Strait. I found two fascinating rock pools, perhaps the best I’ve ever seen, on top of a rocky ledge. The patterns and textures of Goat Island are incredible. Jagged edges, fiery lichen, unusual seaweed, muscles… the island has it all. To the rear of the cove is a stand of trees covered in vines. It’s a surreal place.
Walking east around the rocks from the cove, you’ll find the cave. This cave is very unusual because you can crawl through it, there’s a rock pool inside it and it is heart-shaped. Before you get all swoony, the very non-romantic feature of the cave is its fly population. They are in plague proportions. Yuck! Mr. Traversing Tasmania crawled through the cave anyway. Be aware that you will need to climb down the heart-shaped side – don’t rush away from the flies too fast!
The tide will come in, as it always does. You can find updates about the tides here (note that the page shows information for nearby Picnic Point Beach). You want to visit Goad Island when the tide is at a low point (or shortly before this). Do not lose track of time on the island. This is dangerously easy to do but will see you stranded there. While I have no doubt that this would be an adventure in and of itself (and would make for great photos), you’ll miss out on the many other beautiful sights in nearby Ulverstone and Penguin.
What to Bring
You’ll need sturdy shoes. The rocks are sharp and you won’t make it over the rock shelf to the island (or around the island to the cave) without them. I always take a back-pack with first aid necessities and I take weather-appropriate gear too. Leave your bathers in the car because this island is for exploring, not relaxing or swimming! Make sure that you bring your camera every part of the island is ridiculously photogenic.
You’ll find Goat Island on Penguin Road, which is the old highway between Ulverstone and Penguin along the coast. Follow Queen Street out of Ulverstone, driving for about five minutes, or Main Road out of Penguin, driving for about ten minutes. Look for signs to Goat Island. There is a small car park across the railway lines but take care as trains do use the railway. Your visit will be restricted by the tide but, if you time it right, you’ll have a lovely experience.
Tasmania really is a fabulous place and much of it can be explored for free. Goat Island is no exception. Perhaps you could respect this privilege by taking any litter you find with you. Have a grand adventure on a very unusual island!