Threading the eye of the needle

Bass Strait separates mainland Australia from Tasmania. It wasn’t discovered until 1798 when Bass and Flinders circumnavigated Tasmania thus proving the existence of the Strait and shortening the sailing distance from England to Sydney by 1300kms. However, the discovery came at a price. Bass Strait is only 250kms wide and has more than 50 islands. It is known for being one of the roughest stretches of water in the world.

“Bass Strait is both twice as wide and twice as rough as the English Channel.” – Wikipedia

There are over 600 shipwrecks on the Victorian coast alone. Not surprisingly sailors referred to traversing Bass Strait as ‘Threading the eye of the needle’.

Residents of King Island attribute the fine grazing pastures of their island to the straw washed ashore from the beds of the many ships wrecked in the Nineteenth century.

In 1848 the first lighthouse was built on Deal Island and another on Cape Otway.


Bass Strait Islands Map
Bass Strait – A navigator’s nightmare, to sail half way around the world and then negotiate this. Map source, Google
Tug heading out into Bass Strait from Devonport, Tas
Keeping watch, The Point Lonsdale Light
The Queenscliff Bell – Any person found ringing the bell except in the case of shipwreck or marine disaster will be prosecuted.

8 thoughts on “Threading the eye of the needle

  1. Fascinating stuff, didn’t know there were so many islands in Bass Strait. We got up to Devonport whilst we were there but it was a beautiful day and looked as calm as anything.


    1. At one time they had a catamaran service running across from Wilson’s Promontory to Launceston. We were lucky to try it. The way over was like being on a large ski boat and it followed the ‘ancient island bridge’ of islands all the way. Magic. The return trip was cancelled due to gale force winds and when the weather ‘calmed’ it was a case of chuck chunder all the way!! The current service is fabulous though rough seas have even reached the windows up on the bridge.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A bad trip across Bass Strait can be really, really bad, even on the modern ships. We did one such. Didn’t dock in Devonport until 2pm. It was high summer and the boat was full. Only 6 passengers turned up to breakfast – served in officers’ dining room – they didn’t bother with the main eating places. Our party was 5 of them. Was a fleet of ambulances waiting on the dock because of all the severe sea sick cases.


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