Cape Sorell, Tasmania

Cape Sorell is the headland and lighthouse located outside of Macquarie Harbour on the West Coast of Tasmania. It is an important orientation point for all vessels entering Macquarie Heads - and then through Hells Gates at the entrance to the harbour. It is named after Lieutenant-Governor of Tasmania William Sorell who was lieutenant-governor from 1817 to 1824.


Cape Sorell Lighthouse is on the Australian Heritage Register. It was inaugurated in 1899. The light characteristic is a group of two flashes that occurs every fifteen seconds, its focal plane is at 51 metres above sea level. Originally, the site had a number of keeper's houses which were torn down though in 1988.

Macquarie Heads breakwater railway
Waverider Buoy

The Cape Sorell Waverider Buoy is a swell-measuring buoy located west of Cape Sorell some 10 km kilometres west of Ocean Beach (42°12′S 145°03′E / 42.2°S 145.05°E / -42.2; 145.05).

It is unique in that it is one of the few wave-riding swell measuring buoys close to land in the region within the Roaring Forties of the Southern Ocean apart from those in New Zealand.

Originally known as the 'Strahan' waverider buoy it was deployed in January 1998 and had recorded maximum waves of 18 m within the first three months of operation. The Strahan buoy was supported by CMR which provides the moorings, and the Strahan fishing community which provides the resources to deploy and recover the buoy.

Earlier CSIRO-funded wave-measuring buoys were installed in this area in the early 1990s.

The table and graph of the range of the swells is readily available on the internet links listed below. This link is sometimes displayed in the boats that conduct cruises across Macquarie Harbour and up Gordon River, as a means of illustrating the strength and intensity of the swells that meet Ocean Beach.

Winter swells range in the 4 to 10 metre range on the average. However it is claimed that it broke its moorings on a 23 metre swell within the last decade.

The buoy retained its mooring on September 21, 2006 when it reached a spike of 19.5 metres which was claimed to be the highest measured wave in Australian waters. - however this measurement has been modified due to the buoy's behaviour at the time of the measurement, and it is more likely to have been half that measurement.

On September 16, 2010 it measured up to 18.4 metres in extreme weather