Tasman Peninsula

Port Arthur

Of all the convict related historic sites around Australia, none so graphically tell the story of Australia's convict past that the ruins of the convict settlement at Port Arthur. The place is a window into modern Australia's beginnings, and paints a vivid picture of the lives and times of those poor wretches who were transported to Australia from Britain to start a new life on the other side of the world. From 1833, until the 1850s, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British and Irish criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent here, a quite undesirable punishment. In addition Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.



Tasman National Park

Tasman National Park protects diverse forest and spectacular coastline from Cape Surville to Waterfall Bay and Fortescue Bay; and from Cape Hauy to Cape Pillar and Cape Raoul. The park incorporates several off-shore islands, including Fossil Island, Hippolyte Rocks and Tasman Island. It is an area of great beauty and natural diversity, including some of the most stunning coastal scenery anywhere in Australia. Not suprisingly, the park offers some of the best coastal walks in the country. Many interesting rock formations can be found along the coastline, while the southern end of the park has some of the highest and most spectacular sea cliffs in Australia. The park is also home to a wide range of land and marine animals, and several species of rare plant.



Remarkable Cave

Most people who visit the Port Arthur Historic Site simply head back the way they came when they leave, not realising that there is plenty more to see in and around the peninsula beyond Port Arthur. Turning left upon leaving Port Arthur onto Safety Cove Road, rather than right, leads you to some quite different coastal scenery to that found around Eaglehawk Neck and Pirates Bay. These include some quite unique and amazing rock formations, the most remarkable of them all being the appropriately named Remarkable Cave. It is remarkable not only for its unique form, but also because its opening, when viewed from the observation platform, is the shape of Tasmania.



Nubeena

Nubeena is a small, sleepy and attractive holiday and fishing village, in spite of being the largest town on the Tasman Peninsula. Nubeena lies at the head of Wedge Bay on the western flank of what is virtually an island guarding the eastern entrance to Storm Bay. Further offshore is Wedge Island which is an important nesting habitat for the shearwater. Nubeena is 113km south east of Hobart and 12 km from Port Arthur. The town is halfway along the west coast of Tasman Peninsula, on Parsons Bay, which is a narrow continuation of Wedge Bay. From Port Arthur (A9) it on a circuit drive - via Saltwater River - back to the main road at Taranna (B37), a picturesque alternative to driving straight from Port Arthur to Taranna.



Koonya

The village of Koonya is the site of a former convict outstation once known as Cascades on the shores of Norfolk Bay in Koonya on the Tasman Peninsula. It was established under its former name of "Cascades" in 1841 as one of outlying parts of the network of penal colony sites centred on Port Arthur. After the Port Arthur penal colony was closed, and Van Diemen's Land was renamed "Tasmania", a number of places in Tasmania were renamed; "Cascades" was renamed "Koonya".



Norfolk Bay

Most visitors to the Tasman Peninsula are familiar with the role played by Port Arthur as a penal outstation in Van Diemen's Land, but few are aware of the numerous other convict stations in the area, most of which were on the shores of Norfolk Bay. Convict-built out-stations still stand at Saltwater River, Koonya, Premaydena and Taranna. At Saltwater River is the remains of another large convict station and a coal mine, with numerous buildings an a few mine shafts still intact. Interpretive signage details the story of the site, which is about a 25 minute drive from Port Arthur. In years gone by the waters of this bay were infested with enormous sharks, which were regularly fed by the authorities, to prevent the possibility of convicts escaping by swimming from the peninsula to the mainland.



Taranna

During the height of the Port Arthur penal settlement, Taranna was the terminus for a human railway which ran between the jetty at Little Norfolk Bay and the prison. This railway line was designed to carry passengers and supplies from the security of Norfolk Bay across the narrow isthmus to Port Arthur and Long Bay. The aim was to avoid the rough seas which characterised journeys from Hobart Town to Port Arthur which were forced to round Cape Raoul. The railway has the dubious distinction of being the first railway in Australia and probably the only one using human horsepower along its seven kilometre line.



Shipstern Bluff

Five hundred metres past the turnoff to Port Arthur Historic Site, down a gravel road, through a pear orchard, two hours' walk along a trail flanked by scrub, down a cliff and beyond a series of truck-sized boulders, you'll find Australia's biggest waves. This rugged headland on the Tasman Peninsula, known as Shipstrn Bluff, is generally accepted as being the most challenging surfing location in Australia. Below the bluff, heaving swells hit a reef head-on, causing a huge body of water to arc up seemingly out of nowhere. In recent years, this churning swell has attracted elite surfers from around the world, dominated the surf media and set the bar for extreme surfing in Australia.



Tasman Island

Five hundred metres past the turnoff to Port Arthur Historic Site, down a gravel road, through a pear orchard, two hours' walk along a trail flanked by scrub, down a cliff and beyond a series of truck-sized boulders, you'll find Australia's biggest waves. This rugged headland on the Tasman Peninsula, known as Shipstrn Bluff, is generally accepted as being the most challenging surfing location in Australia. Below the bluff, heaving swells hit a reef head-on, causing a huge body of water to arc up seemingly out of nowhere. In recent years, this churning swell has attracted elite surfers from around the world, dominated the surf media and set the bar for extreme surfing in Australia.



Premaydena

Premaydena is a small village idyllically situated on Impression Bay on the shores of Norfolk Bay. Dolphins and seals are seen from time in the mediteranean-clear and blue waters of the bay, and there are always plenty of penguins and seabirds. Premaydena is the site of the second largest colonial era convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula after Port Arthur. There is a beautiful quiet sandy beach at Slopen Main nearby. The beach occupies a coastal indentation between two headlands on the western side of the peninsula. Slopen Main is where coal was first discovered on the peninsula in 1833 on a survey of the Tasman Peninsula s north west. Later that year, Port Arthur's Commandant, Charles O'Hara Booth, oversaw the establishment of a mine worked by convicts at nearby Saltwater River.



Doo Town

Just passed Eaglehawk Neck, on the way to Tasman's Arch, the Blowhole and the Devil's Kitchen is the holiday village of Doo Town. The town dates back to the 1930s when in 1935, Hobart architect Eric Round began a custom that continues today. Round placed the name plate "Doo I" on his weekend shack. A neighbour, Charles Gibson, responded with a plate reading "Doo Me" then Bill Eldrige with "Doo Us". Eric Round later renamed his shack Xanadoo.



Saltwater River

Saltwater River is a small community on the western shore of Norfolk Bay on the Tasman Peninsula. The Saltwater River area contained two penal settlements. One was an agricultural settlement, which produced vegetables, wheat, and had a piggery. The other was a coal mine, known amongst convicts for its hellish conditions. It is now on the Australian National Heritage List as the Coal Mines Historic Site. Today, only ruins exist at the site, which includes underground cells.



Lime Bay

Saltwater River is a small community on the western shore of Norfolk Bay on the Tasman Peninsula. The Saltwater River area contained two penal settlements. One was an agricultural settlement, which produced vegetables, wheat, and had a piggery. The other was a coal mine, known amongst convicts for its hellish conditions. It is now on the Australian National Heritage List as the Coal Mines Historic Site. Today, only ruins exist at the site, which includes underground cells.





Eaglehawk Neck

As its name suggests, Eaglehawk Neck is a narrow bar between Pirates Bay to the east and Norfolk Bay to the west. It is made of sand carried by currents and waves from the floors of Pirate's Bay to the east and Norfolk Bay to the west. This isthmus joins the Forestier Peninsula and Tasman Peninsula and the former Port Arthur Penal Settlement on which it stands in a narrow strip of land which is less than 100 metres wide.