Sat 6th July (PM) and Sun 7th July: Hobart Airport, Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur
The day had finally arrived – we were off to Tasmania! When we first started researching places we would be interested in going on our trip to Australia Tasmania quickly came out as a firm favourite. It seemed to have everything we loved in a travel destination – and more!! The wildlife was a particular appeal for me and my husband John. The idea of seeing lots of wildlife out in the wild was really appealing. We had also read it was quite a bit like New Zealand – in that it was very scenic, some of the scenery was similar, and it would be less crowded and quieter than some other parts of Oz.
After a morning in Melbourne we headed over to Tullamarine airport and took a flight with Jetstar over to Hobart. We picked our car up from Bargain Car Rentals. Despite the slightly disconcerting name (!) we absolutely loved this company and would HIGHLY recommend it! They were so much cheaper than the big guns (Hertz, Avis, Europcar etc.) but in our opinion better (and we have rented A LOT of hire cars). They claim to offer new cars at bargain prices – and they really do! The two guys who greeted us were awesome – they were really friendly but also really professional and explained everything really clearly. The other great thing about this company is that you can take your car on Bruny island too (which most major operators don’t allow). Anyway, we collected our lovely white Hyundai i20 and set off for the first place we were staying – Hobart Airport Tourist Park. We were staying in one of their cabins, which was actually lovely! It was warm, a great size, with a good bedroom and bathroom – perfect for a night’s stay and right by the airport. We were happy and content to have arrived in Tassie and slept well, excited by what tomorrow would bring.
The next morning we started the drive down the Tasman Peninsula to Port Arthur. We stopped off at various sights along the way, including the Tessellated Pavement (where we took a lovely walk to a beautiful beach), Tasman Arch, Devil’s Kitchen, and the Blowhole – see my gallery below for more photos.
We also passed through an awesome town called ‘Doo Town’ – where all the house names had ‘Doo’ in them e.g. one house was called ‘Much-A-Doo’, another ‘Love-Me-Doo’ and there was loads of others (read them on Wikipedia if you are interested!).
We arrived at Port Arthur Historic Site at about lunchtime, and purchased the Bronze Pass for $35. Port Arthur is the site of a past convict settlement back in the 19th century – where mainly British and Irish convicts were sent and spent time in jail here. It is a really fascinating place – and obviously quite a haunting and thought-provoking place too, as there was so much sadness here in the past. The way they have preserved the site is excellent and there is so much to see and read and learn about – you can easily spend a whole day here. Despite the obvious sadness in the place it was really fascinating exploring all the different buildings and sites.
I think they have over 30 different buildings to explore – including the penitentiary, the hospital, the church, the asylum, governor’s house, and the guard tower, among loads of others. They also have ruins, gardens and museum houses packed full with loads of artefacts really well displayed. On arrival they give each person a special Port Arthur playing card, which correlates to a convict character – that is part of their below museum display. As you enter the museum you follow the instructions depending on which card you have, and find out which convict character you are and learn your fate – it was a nice and unique addition. Our ticket also included a boat trip out towards the Isle of the Dead, with great views of Port Arthur as we returned to shore.
The weather was also really beautiful – with clear blue skies – which really enhanced our trip. There was so much to see and do that we returned the following morning to finish seeing all the buildings/sites. There is quite a lot of walking involved (and some up and down quite steep sections), so that is something to bear in mind if you are planning a visit, but they cater for this well – offering mobile chairs you can take on your walk, and a shuttle service which travels around the paths collecting people as and when needed to transport them.
On leaving Port Arthur we headed to our accommodation for the evening which was the incredibly beautiful holiday house we had rented – Bay Retreat. It was a little cold at night (although we found this a common theme in Tassie!), but this was definitely one of our favourite places we stayed – it was so peaceful and tranquil, with a gorgeous view of the water. It also had its own short walk to a private jetty, from which we watched the sunset. A magical end to a wonderful first day in very special Tasmania.