|Trip Length:||3 days, 2 nights|
|Best time to visit:||Year round|
|Trip Length:||3 days, 2 nights|
|Best time to visit:||Year round|
You are following in the footsteps of convicts who slogged their way to Port Arthur. This is the original land route followed by convicts and their guards to Port Arthur. Richmond is a picturesque town located in the Coal River Valley wine region. A brief exploration of Richmond provides an opportunity to explore Australia’s oldest intact jail (1825) and a bridge. There are opportunities to relax in Richmond’s high street cafes before proceeding to your destination for the night.
It is impressive when a bridge has its own website link, Richmond Bridge – Tasmania – Australian National Heritage Places and the best bit is you can walk around and across the bridge for free. Built by convicts in 1820’s using sandstone it even has a resident ghost. The bridge was innovative bridge design with the longest span for any bridge in Australia at the time. The bridge is still used today as testimonial to the workmanship of the forced convict labour. Convicts hand cut sandstone from the nearby Butchers Hill. Then it was transported in carts pulled by the same convicts to the bridge site.The bridge has a resident ghost, a vicious convict enforcer who came to an untimely end on the bridge. The story goes, George Grover, a flagellator and enforcer unnecessarily flogged convicts grunting and pulling the heavily laden carts. The bridge is now a well known instagram photo moment location and 200 years of history under its solid brown sandstone arches.
The Richmond Gaol is also the oldest gaol in Australia. Built in 1825, it was in use until 1928 and gives glaring insight into the difficulty of convict life in the 19th century. The self-guided tours are atmospheric with amplified sounds of the life under lock and key. Visitors are encouraged to even try some time in solitary confinement to experience isolation first hand. Ethnographic settings immerse you in the world of convict life as you listen to the stories of the inmates, from the famous convict “Ikey Solomon”, who many say was the model for the character of Fagin in Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist”.
Self Guided Tours are open daily: 9.00am – 5.00pm
There are over 50 historic sites and buildings. An interesting example is Oak Lodge, a reminder of Richmond’s past. Urban homes that have withstood the perils of time are a capsule into how life was lived in the nineteenth century. The house has kept the original cellar, staircase, cupboards, and stone pathways and stables in the garden. The house and grounds are supported by passionate volunteers.
The two most significant trees on the property are the two magnificent English Oak trees in the front of the house, which gives Oak Lodge its name. Oak Lodge has been used as a rectory, a school, a doctors surgery and a family home. Oak Lodge was donated to the National Trust with the request the house was made accessible for the public to enjoy.
Opening: Check Facebook page for up to date information.
Bird watchers buffs
Bird watchers buffs, you are driving in the vicinity of the vast Pitt Water Lagoon, an internationally significant wetland. For stunning detailed descriptions of the bird life check here for details, Pitt Water Orielton Lagoon Ramsar Site. Check the map for directions and ponder and think about the birds and wetlands and their place in our urban world.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The Pitt Water – Orielton Lagoon Ramsar site is one of 10 Ramsar wetlands in Tasmania, and is the only one located in an urban area.
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for international cooperation for conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and the Convention’s member countries cover all geographic regions of the planet.
NOTE: From PittWater you will travelling on the A3 McGee’s Bridge, that carries the Tasman Highway across PittWater, near Sorell in the south-east of Tasmania. The bridge and adjacent Sorell Causeway provide vital links between Hobart and the Tasman peninsula.
From Sorell you can choose to detour to explore Spectacle Island, a 3.5 hectare reserve for breeding seabird and shorebird waders such as Little Penguin, Short-tailed Shearwater and Pied Oystercatcher. Another bird watchers spot is the Orielton Lagoon with its picturesque shallow waters and landscape views of Seven Mile Beach sand dunes. Families might spend the late afternoon at Carlton Beach, a local favourite for safe swimming and a great place to start a surfing career with its smaller breaks.
Lewisham Jetty is worth a detour for jetty lovers with its derelict state making a great photo moment and the current boat ramp and surrounds is known for its fishing. Dodges Ferry, named after Ralph Dodge (1791-1871) ferry operator across Pittwater from the 1820s. With sandy beaches and rocky headlands close at hand, Dodge settlement is located at the entrance to the Pittwater estuary and has a reputation for safe swimming, fishing and boating. You will pass beaches named Tiger Head, Red Ochre, Carlton and Frederick Henry Bay. Stop at Pirates Bay lookout for spectacular views and collapse on the supplied rugs by Cubed Espresso pop up coffee caravan.
Before arriving at your accommodation for the night check out Pirates Bay Lookout for the panoramic views, stay on Pirates Drive as it winds downhill to Eaglehawk Neck. Your accommodation for the next two nights is on your right at the bottom of the hill Lufra Hotel and Apartments: Home
Your day starts with a half day exploration of Tasman National Park and its extraordinary rock formations. Eaglehawk Neck, Devils Kitchen and Tessellated pavement and other awe inspiring names encapsulate the monumental rock formations. Here you can see rock stacks, arches, sea caves and 300-metre soaring sea cliffs.
Half-starved dogs were chained to the narrowest part of the peninsula where Port Arthur penitentiary was situated. The infamous dog chain (1830’s) was part of the defences against any attempt to escape by the convicts. At the same site there is the Officers’ Quarters, a museum showing the history of the area. The Officers’ Quarters was originally built in 1832 to house soldiers who were stationed at the isthmus.
It is thought to be the oldest wood constructed military building in Australia. Escaping Port Arthur and the peninsula was incredibly difficult with dogs even stationed in the water to prevent convicts from attempting to cross. A statue of a dog, looking suitable fierce marks the line in the dunes where the dogs were chained.
Tessellated Pavement is a short walk from the Lufra Hotel carpark. The unusual geological rock formation is located at the northern end of Pirates Bay Beach. The Isthmus connecting the Tasman Peninsula to Tasmania is covered in a pattern of regular rectangular saltwater pools looking distinctly manmade. Rare natural erosion occurs when saltwater wears away the centre portion of the stones into pools of water.
The best time to visit is at low tide when the tessellation is exposed. It is sedimentary rock that has eroded. The sea cliffs along the peninsula are high and can be dangerous, always pay attention to signs and do not cross safety barriers to take photos.
Duration of walk: 10-20 minutes
On your way to Port Arthur, stop at the Port Arthur Lavender Farm. Shopping should be part of any weekend away, your city break is not complete without a stop at the Lavender Farm. The lavender season starts from around the middle of November and reaches full glory during December and January. This destination is all about stimulating the senses of sight, smell, and taste. Indulge in lavender inspired cuisine in the cafe, wander through the shop filled with homemade products, or check out the custom-made distillery.
Port Arthur Lavender Tasmania: There are over 7 hectares of lavender, native bush and lakes with ocean views of Long Bay. The cafe is focused on all things lavender flavouring food and drink. There is an extensive gift shop and an essential oil distillery. If the lavender season is finished check out the shop and cafe for some special treats. The lavender trail is a popular walk for its views.
Port Arthur is a large site where sturdy walking shoes are recommended. There are over 30 buildings on the 40-hectare site. The Commandant’s house looks as though his family have just popped out with furnishing in place evoking a sense of hearth and home. This is in contrast to the bleck convict prison block. Start your exploration at the Interpretation Centre in order to get a deeper understanding of the life of the convicts and join a guided walking tour for an overview of the site before exploring on your own. Buildings worth seeing include the ruined penitentiary and church, the cruciform-shaped separate prison and the recreated guard homes.
Port Arthur is a poster boy for the harsh justice system of the nineteenth century with the spectre of transportation and forced labour as punishment for stealing a loaf of bread. It is a period when universal suffrage had not made an appearance. Women and many men did not have the right to vote, child labour was common practice and life was a constant battle against major infectious diseases such as chlorea, typoid and smallpox among others. When we are walking around these sites we are working in the footsteps of men who usually were illiterate, starved and often did not have yet the voice to seek a fairer form of justice.
Many visitors have visited Port Arthur previously yet have missed the opportunity to explore the historic convict Coal Mine. Just past the entrance to the Port Arthur Historic Site is the world heritage site of the Coal Mines Historic Site: Home. The Mines needed convict labour to mine coal. The place was punishment for the ‘worst class’ of convicts. An ambitious industrial venture which was a place of severe secondary punishment, the Coal Mines represents the extreme hardships endured by the convicts. The site is often overlooked by the mass tourist buses and individual visitors are not aware of the site’s significance. The site is not crowded and usually there are few people on the self-guided tour. Excellent explanatory plaques next to historic ruins, scattered in the bush environment offer a sense of mystery and are very evoked of the stories being told. Walking tracks lead past hidden ruins and buildings, as well as the main mine shaft.
Hobart and Beyond – Convict Ruins: Walk the Coal Mines Historic Site describes the convict’s life as … ‘The Coal Mines operated as a probation station from 1833 to 1848. The site had a fearsome reputation as a place of gruelling punishment for the worst class of convicts. During the 1840s, it held up to 600 people. Prisoners worked underground extracting coal, as well as in building works and general station duties. Four solitary cells were built deep in the underground workings to punish those who dared to commit further crimes at the mines. It was not a place for the claustrophobic.’
Entry is free.
A fact sheet is available from the Port Arthur Visitor Centre.
The unusual names and quirky character of Tasman Peninsula are a cheerful note on which to finish your weekend exploration of the area. You will be exploring many versions of the name Doo, then it’s onto the stunning coast with its contrast between rugged rocky cliffs and the relentless pounding of the Great Southern Ocean. The day is completed with a trip to an Unzoo where cages for wildlife have been banished.
Located at the southern end of Pirates Bay, this tiny settlement thought of the idea of naming their holiday cottages or shacks. Hobart Architect Mr Eric Round was one of the first ‘shackles’ and the beginner of a long held tradition in naming his shack ‘DOO I’. The quaint Doo naming rapidly caught on and there are about thirty or so neighbouring shacks and homes boldly bearing names such as ‘DOO DROP IN’, ‘DOO-LITTLE’ and ‘DOO-US’. This is a drive by tour around a coastal village checking out the creative use of Doo as a name for about everything.
Duration ½ hour excluding stops for instagram moments next to your favourite Doo signage.
Doo-lishus – Hobart, Tasmania – Menu, Prices, Restaurant Reviews Fish and chips anyone. Check where the mobile food caravan is parked during the summer season.
Not far from the land of Doo is FOSSIL BAY LOOKOUT + FOSSIL ISLAND.
Fossil Bay Lookout provides a spectacular lookout beside some of the Tasman Peninsula’s most visited geological formations. The lookout is a favourite photo location due to its sweeping ocean views and impressive dolerite rock formations. In the vicinity of the lookout is Devils Kitchen and Tasman Arch. Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen, which are both an easy walk from their car park areas, as well as the Tasman Peninsula Blowhole, which is always a delight for kids and adults alike.
Depending on the tide and weather conditions, you will witness the power of strong ocean currents and wave action on the sea cliffs during the short walking track at the blowhole.
Devils Kitchen (a rugged, 60m-deep cleft) is a surging cauldron of seawater where the Great Southern Ocean crashes and swirls around the base of its cliffs. Nature at its elemental best. There are several short walks nearby, a popular walk is along the soaring cliffs to Waterfall Bay.
NOTE: It is 3.4 km.
Tasmanian Devil Unzoo
Experience Unzoo – Tasmanian Devil Unzoo. Tasmanian Devils are on most people’s bucket list. The Tasman Peninsula offers this chance through the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo. This wildlife park has information sessions and regular devil feeding demonstrations, as well as other animal shows such as kangaroo, bird and quoll feeding. A special feature is the pop up viewing bubbles giving visitors a ground up view of the animals world. Unzoo is a guaranteed highlight for families.
Tasmanian Devil Unzoo is a unique four-in-one wildlife nature experience that combines up-close encounters with Tasmania’s special native animals, wildlife adventures, a Tasmanian native garden of a 10-hectare former farm has been restored and redesigned as the extraordinary Tasmanian Native Botanic Garden and wildlife habitat. The art gallery is a popular destination for art collectors and supporters of emerging artists. In the words of Unzoo, ‘We are proud to support Tasmania’s emerging and established artists, and to continue to raise awareness of our wonderful animals and plants, through sponsorship of the annual $5,000 Tasmanian Wildlife Art Prize and the new Tasmanian Wildlife Photography Prize. During your visit to the Unzoo, you’ll have the opportunity to view the best entries from the competitions, and see current exhibitions by award-winning Tasmanian artists.’