Take the time to fully explore the Tasman Region and enjoy the array of wildlife, fruits, wines, seafood and the most incredible scenic walks and ocean cliff top vistas that you will ever experience. Or immerse yourself in the dark history of the convict era at the world heritage Port Arthur Historic Site, the best-preserved convict settlement in Australia and among the most significant convict era sites in the world. Visitors should note that many of the walks on the Tasman Peninsula require Park Entry Passes that can be purchased at the Sorell and Port Arthur Historic Site Tourist Information Centres and also at the Ranger Station at Fortescue Bay.
Hobart to the Tasman Peninsula
From Hobart travel towards the Tasman Peninsula and for the seafood lovers, be sure to stop at Barilla Bay Oysters, or if fresh fruit is your fancy then call into the Sorell Fruit Farm just outside of the historic town of Sorell. Continue on for a short stop at the quirky Copping Museum which has something to amuse everyone and then time for lunch at the renowned Dunalley Waterfront Café or perhaps the Fish Market. At Dunalley, also visit the historic Abel Tasman marker, the namesake of Tasmania after his visit to the area in 1642. Cross the swing bridge at Dunalley and continue towards the Tasman and for an unforgettable photographic moment take the turn off to the Tasman Sea Cliffs Lookout that provides an amazing view across Eaglehawk Neck and Pirates Bay to the Tasman Peninsula…land of the highest sea cliffs in the southern hemisphere. Continue on to the peninsula proper and set up base in any one of the many accredited accommodation facilities in the region. Just visit www.tasmanregion.com.au to find the accommodation venue that suits your needs. Rest and relax! Talk to your host for dinner recommendations at a local restaurant or eatery but make sure that you also book a Tasman Island Cruise for the next day.
Up early to start a most unforgettable journey on-board Rob Pennicott’s Tasman Island Cruises, Tasmanian winner of Excellence in Sustainable Tourism for 2010 to 2013. Experience close encounters with whales, dolphins, seals and sea birds, or explore deep inside many of the numerous sea caves that litter the coast. Be amazed at the highest sea cliffs at Cape Pilla and majestic Tasman Island, the silent custodian of the Tasman Peninsula and final navigation point for migrating Antarctic whales and the famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
On return to Port Arthur, take lunch at the Eucalyptus Café or a bite to eat from the Port Arthur General Store before entering the Historic Port Arthur Site to purchase your two day pass. Winner of the Tasmanian 2013 Major Tourist Attraction Award, the Site combines history and scenic beauty with innovative interpretation to tell the stories of the harsh discipline and determined industry of the settlement. There is a lot to see and do, and Port Arthur’s tale is told in many evocative and engaging ways. The experience will stay with you long after you have departed. Take dinner at the site and if you dare and are strong at heart, join one of the after dark Ghost Tours and be enthralled at the macabre tales that still echo in the corridors late at night.
A day for a bit more fresh air and exhilaration and off to the Remarkable Cave where along the road you will be enchanted by the amazing view across the bay to Cape Pilla and Tasman Island. Stop a further 200 metres along at Safety Cove and stroll along the lovely secluded beach. You will probably be alone in the most picturesque scene, so just relax and take in the magic of the moment. Continue on to the Remarkable Cave Lookout and be enthralled at the power and might of the Southern Ocean and Cape Raoul, the “fluted cape” as it stands a sentinel to the southern Tasman Peninsula. Now take the 15 minute return journey to the cave to see why it is so remarkable. See the map of Tasmania that is formed at the seaward entrance to the cave.
From the car park at the Remarkable Cave, you can then take the 4 hour return walk to Crescent Beach, the Maingon Blowhole and Mount Brown. Alternatively, you can drive to Eaglehawk Neck and a bite to eat at Havanabite for one of their delicious wood fired pizzas or on to the Blowhole for the freshest fish and chips at the Doolishus Food Van. Continue on through the unique village of Doo Town to the Tasman Arch (taking in the breathtaking view from the lookout behind the Arch) and the Devil’s Kitchen. For some more scenic vistas you can take the 1 ½ hour return walk that provides a number of fascinating ocean and cliff views culminating in beautiful Waterfall Bay where the water tumbles hundreds of feet into the ocean. As you leave the Neck, take a walk to Cash’s Lookout named after Martin Cash, the notorious convict bushranger. The lookout delivers stunning views east over Pirates Bay and south down the coast.
Back to Port Arthur Historic Site (free entry for the second day) to catch up on that missed boat cruise around the bay, maybe search official records for long lost family, visit a few more buildings or just to take in the serenity.
Take dinner at Gabrielle’s or the Tudor themed Fox and Hounds.
A day of many options and for the extreme sport’s minded you can spend your morning exploring the ocean floor with the experts at Eaglehawk Neck Dive Centre. In the afternoon, play a game of golf at the stunning beautiful Tasman Golf Course with its signature 8th hole being a 120 metre tee shot across an ocean gorge to an elevated green perched high on a cliff top.
Alternatively you may choose (with a picnic hamper packed by your accommodation hosts) a leisurely drive along the touring loop road through the convict buildings at Koonya to the Old Trading Store at Premaydena where you can purchase some exquisite local goodies before heading to Saltwater and the Historic Coal Mines, a place of even more despicable happenings than Port Arthur. Walk into the underground solitary cells that are still there today and be amazed at the ingenuity of our forefathers who used gravity to load coal onto the ships at Plunkett Point. Continue on to Lime Bay and Sloping Main where you can stroll along the deserted beaches.
Continue along the loop road and visit the former Convict probation Station and quaint coastal township of Nubeena. If you have time, then take a drive out to Roaring Beach just at the entrance to Nubeena. Nubeena, aboriginal for “crayfish” is the principality of the Tasman Peninsula and is now predominately a fishing and farming village that produces crayfish, abalone, sea urchins and Tasmanian salmon and home of the largest pear and apple orchard in Tasmania. Grab something to eat at Lucky Ducks or the Hub then take a stroll along the pristine waters of beautiful White Beach…the holiday destination for many local Hobartians. Return home via Bill McHenry’s Whiskey Distillery, the most southern distillery in the world and the only Australian distillery that uses natural spring water to produce the famous Three Capes Whiskey.
Or, if none of the above takes your fancy, for adventure walkers, pack a bag with goodies and plenty of water and head to Stormlea/Highcroft turnoff (one kilometre south of Nubeena) and follow the signs to Cape Raoul and Shipstern Bluff. Shipstern Bluff is the mecca for big wave surfers with waves recorded to 18 metres. From the lookout (2 hour return to carpark) walkers then have the option to turn right and continue on to Shipstern Bluff and Tunnel Bay (4.5 hours return to carpark), or turn left and head to Cape Raoul (5 hours return to the carpark). In addition to the unforgettable views at Cape Raoul, walkers can also view the huge seal colony on the lower edges of the cape. Afterwards, continue on to nearby White Beach/Nubeena for a well-earned cold drink at Nubeena Ex-Services Club or buy a bottle of wine for a night cap from the Nubeena One Stop Bottle O.
Come face to face with our Tasmanian Devils at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park. Later, be succumbed by the delicious sweets at Federation Chocolate Factory then stop for a snack at Fish Lips all located in Taranna.
Alternatively, for those craving more adventure, head to beautiful Fortescue Bay and at the beach it is your choice whether to head left to Bivouac Bay (3 hours return) or right at the newly completed track to Cape Hauy (4 hours return). The Cape Hauy track is just one section of the $25 million Three Capes Walk which is due to be completed in November 2015 and is heralded to be the premier walking track in Australia.
As you exit the Tasman Peninsula, drop into the historic Dog Line, the free museum at the Officer’s Quarters (the oldest timber military building in Australia) and also view the amazing Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck. While you are there, have a bite to eat at the Lufra Hotel. Do take time to have one last glance of the majestic Tasman Peninsula from the Tasman Sea Cliffs Lookout.
As you journey back towards Sorell, take advantage of the reasonably priced fuel stations at Dunalley Shell and the Murdunna Store where you can also grab an afternoon snack of freshly shucked oysters or a Tasmanian scallop pie.