Bicheno, Tasmania

Bicheno /ˈbɪʃɛn/ is a town on the east coast of Tasmania, Australia, 185 km north-east of Hobart on the Tasman Highway, with a population of around 950.[1] It is part of the municipality of Glamorgan-Spring Bay. The town is primarily a fishing port and a beach resort.

Coordinates41°52′S 148°17′E
Population943 (2016 census)[1]
 • Density5.6/km2 (15/sq mi)
Area151.1 km2 (58.3 sq mi)
LGA(s)Glamorgan Spring Bay Council
State electorate(s)Lyons
Federal Division(s)Lyons
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
17.9 °C
64 °F
9.5 °C
49 °F
678.8 mm
26.7 in


The town was named in honour of James Ebenezer Bicheno, the British Colonial Secretary for Van Diemen's Land from 1843 to 1851, with the name in use in 1851.[2]

The first historical reference to the place that was to become Bicheno was made by James Kelly during his circumnavigation of Van Diemen's Land. He landed here (when it was known as Waubs Harbour) to dry his provisions.

Waub's Harbour was the location for a number of shore-based bay whaling stations in the late 1830s and early 1840s.[3]

Bicheno was proclaimed a township in 1866. Bicheno Post Office opened as a receiving house on 1 January 1855.[4]


Near the tennis courts is the grave of Wauba Debar (after whom Waub's Harbour was named), an aboriginal who was stolen from her tribe as a teenager to become a "sealer's woman". Her bravery in rescuing two sealers in a storm is commemorated by a headstone.[5][6]

The hinterland was established for farming in the mid-1840s, which continues today. Coal was discovered in 1848. In 1854, the harbour was expanded to provide port facilities for the coal mines at Denison River. The coal was transported to the port via a 5‑km horse-drawn tramway.

The use of Bicheno as a coal port was short-lived. The discovery of gold in Victoria saw most of the residents depart in 1855 and for nearly a century, Bicheno became a sleepy little fishing village. Fishing has continued to be the lifeblood of the town with substantial quantities of crayfish, abalone, scallops and trevally. In recent times it has become a popular tourist destination, with a range of accommodation, craft shops, two small aquaria, and a visitor centre. Visitors are also attracted to the little penguin colony on adjacent Diamond Island A nearby point of interest is the Bicheno Blowhole. A famous resident is the world champion swimmer Shane Gould.

In September 2003 a memorial to the Merchant navy was unveiled in Bicheno.[7] Five months later, in February 2004, the town presented a freedom of entry charter to the Australian Merchant Navy, the first time any locality in the world has granted 'freedom of the city' to the merchant Navy.[8] Local primary school children have been appointed custodians of this memorial, built near Wauba Debar's grave.

At the 2019 Australian federal election the Bicheno booth recorded the following number of votes for each party: Labor 194 (33.98%), Nationals 118 (20.67%), Greens 108 (18.91%), Liberal 96 (16.81%), United Australia Party 30 (5.25%) and Pauline Hanson's One Nation 25 (4.38%). After the distribution of preferences the two-party preferred vote was Labor 333 (58.32%) to Liberal 238 (41.68%).



In the 2016 Census, there were 943 people in Bicheno. 76.6% of people were born in Australia and 86.0% of people only spoke English at home. The most common responses for religion were No Religion 37.7% and Anglican 23.7%.[1]


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Bicheno (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  2. "Commissariat". The Tasmanian Colonist. I, (8). Tasmania, Australia. 31 July 1851. p. 2. Retrieved 27 August 2019 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  3. Kathryn Evans, Shore-based whaling in Tasmania: historical research project; Volume 2; site histories, Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, Hobart, 1993, p.54-5.
  4. Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
  5. eHeritage, Headstone of Wauba DEBAR Archived 6 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, State Library of Tasmania. Accessed 18 October 2008
  6. Bicheno Online Access Centre, Community History Archived 16 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 18 October 2008
  7. Maritime Union of Australia Archived 8 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine Port of Call Journal, June 2004. Accessed 18 October 2008
  8. Australian Maritime College, Media Release Archived 4 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine, April 2004, Accessed 18 October 2008
  • Media related to Bicheno at Wikimedia Commons
  • Bicheno travel guide from Wikivoyage
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