Recherche Bay Reserve

Protected 2006


This spectacular 142 hectare coastal property extends from the dramatic wild landscape of the Southport Lagoon Conservation Area, which is home to the critically endangered species swamp eyebright (Euphrasia gibbsiae spp. psilantherea). This delicate flowering plant has only a single population of 50 individuals remaining on the planet.

The property provides habitat for several threatened bird species. A pair of white-bellied sea eagles (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – vulnerable to extinction in Tasmania – return to nest on the property year after year. Grey goshawks (Accipiter novaehollandiae) and masked owls (Tyto novaehollandiae), both endangered in Tasmania due to their declining populations, use the area for nesting, roosting and feeding.

Stands of mature Tasmanian blue gums (Eucalyptus globulus), a species first discovered on this very site by the French explorer Lalbilladiere in 1792, provide foraging habitat for flocks of swift parrots (Lathamus discolor), which are endangered at a national level due to habitat destruction.


Given the isolated nature of this reserve, management is relatively simple, with a focus on maintaining the current condition of the reserve. Long term monitoring will identify threats and management will aim to address those threats. In the long term, the TLC hopes to provide opportunities for the community to learn more about the cultural values associated with the property.


Only in the last decade have we really discovered the overwhelming importance of Recherche Bay as a site of national and historic significance.

“It is difficult to express the sensations we felt at finding ourselves at length sheltered in this solitary harbour at the extremity of the globe”. So recorded the naturalist Jacques-Julien Labillardiere in his diary of 1792 when the Recherche and Esperence first anchored in what is now known as Recherche Bay.

The French scientific expedition, which visited in 1792 and again in 1793, was exceptional compared to much early European contact with Australia, in that it included some of the cream of French scientists and did not seek to colonise.

During their stay at Recherche Bay, hydrographer Rossel carried out the first scientific experiment in Australia, making a breakthrough in understanding of the Earth’s magnetic fields.

Labillardiere made some of Australia’s first botanical surveys, collecting type specimens of blue gum and native heath (Epacris impressa), now the state floral emblems of Tasmania and Victoria. The French prepared a garden to establish European plants and the naturalists made some of the earliest and most detailed accounts of any Australian Aboriginal people, whom they described to co-exist in a “state of perfection” and whome they met with in an atmosphere of good-natured acceptance.

The area was threatened by logging in the early 2000s, which the local community, historians, environmentalists and public figures Senator Bob Brown and philanthropist Dick Smith, resisted with tenacity and gusto. Eventually, logging ambitions were abandoned and aspirations to protect this incredible place were realised. This was achieved through the immense effort and generosity of organisations and individuals alike.

Banner photograph: Bob Brown     


Step into Recherche Bay and explore nature from every angle.