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I had no idea when we set off to see the historic site of Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula that this territory in the south of Tasmania, measuring 660 square kilometres and surrounded by sea, would be so spectacular.
The Tasman and Forestier Peninsulas are approximately 60Kms from the capital of Hobart and are well known for their rugged eastern coastline and the highest sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere, rising 300 metres above the Tasman Sea at Cape Pillar.
Our journey commenced at the entry to the Forestier Peninsula at the town called Dunnalley at an isthmus called East Bay Neck. This quiet little fishing village has an old boatshed, jetty and many boats in the harbour with pretty views from the coffee shop/art gallery overlooking the bay. It also boasts the Abel Tasman Monument recording that Abel Tasman and his crew became the first Europeans to land on Tasmania.
There is a large gracious pub built circa 1892 standing on the hill in town with some interesting fishing memorabilia beside it. Plus there is the Denison canal, with a swing bridge for road traffic, which was cut between Dunalley Bay and Blackman Bay to allow boats easy access between the two bays.
Driving southwards there is a gorgeous beach called Sunset Beach which had beautiful daisies growing in the vegetation on the shores.
The entry to the Tasman Peninsula is at a place called Eaglehawk Neck, a narrow isthmus that was once guarded by ferocious dogs and guards to prevent the escape of convicts from Port Arthur Penitentiary.
Just short of entering Eaglehawk Neck there is a lookout which has breathtaking views over Pirate Bay with spectacular steep cliff faces, tranquil bays and Pirate Beach.
You can even stop here and enjoy a freshly brewed coffee from the coffee van and stretch out on their ‘magic carpet’!
Drive further down from the lookout to Pirates Beach to the Tessellated Pavement. This fascinating rock formation has been formed by the ocean movement and looks like a square tiled pavement.
Eaglehawk Neck has a museum that was once the guard’s quarters for Port Arthur, and reveals the intriguing history of attempted escapes from the penitentiary.
Just past Eaglehawk Neck on the way to the incredible rock formations of Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen is Doo Town. This quaint seaside village is famous for its quirky beach shack names. All the shacks have name plates with the prefix of ‘Doo’! Eg: ‘Dr Doolittle’ or ‘Doo-N-Time’.
The unusual geological formations of Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen Tasman Blowhole are definitely worth a visit with a pathway linking all three attractions.
The road loops around the Tasman Peninsula from Eaglehawk Neck, down to Port Arthur through Taranna Forest, past the Tasmanian Devil Park and to the little villages at Nubeena and Koonya.
The peninsula forms part of the South East Tasmania Important Bird Area, because of its importance in the conservation of a range of woodland birds. We saw many of these birds at our campground and we were delighted to be visited by paddy melons with little joeys in their pouches.
You can take a short detour and travel down to Remarkable Cave and Crescent Bay which is a must see. There is a pathway, that includes 130 odd stairs taking you down to a viewing platform, providing an incredible view looking through the cave out to sea.
There are many great hikes that you can undertake on the Tasman Peninsula including the newly opened 3 Capes Track. This track is 46 kilometres of cliff-hugging wilderness taking you on a hike across three capes: Cape Pillar, Cape Raoul and Cape Hauy. It involves 4 days and 3 overnight stays in basic cabin accommodation and has been designed as an achievable experience for a wide range of ages and abilities. I knew there was a reason I need to return here!
Who would have thought that the Tasman Peninsula would be such an outstanding destination for sightseeing with great walks, sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, blowholes, secluded caves and fishing spots? You could easily spend a week here exploring this spectacular coastal environment and I would love to chillax in one of those beach shacks in Doo Town. Maybe the one called “Doo-N-Nothing”!!
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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