Port Arthur Tasmania
Port Arthur sits at the southern end of the Tasman Peninsula, a very pleasant 90 minute drive from Hobart. The road winds from Hobart, past the airport and across the causeways to Sorell, before turning east and heading through pleasant open fields and farmland.
The scenery is excellent, and the water is never far away. As the farmland turns to forest and you cross the Dunalley Canal onto the Tasman Peninsula proper, you realise you have crossed over a rainshadow line and that the trees and undergrowth will be heavier, the result of a higher rainfall from here on. You are heading out onto a chunk of Tasmania sticking out into the Great Southern Ocean and the Tasman Sea, and after visiting the Port Arthur area, there is nowhere to go but back out through Eaglehawk Neck and Dunalley.
You are starting to get a feel for the "end of the Earth", as the Convicts of the 1800's would have felt it. This is about as far as they could get, both physically and environmentally, from the English Judge who sentenced them to transportation to Van Dieman's Land.
If you are not driving yourself, you might want to consider a day trip from Hobart to visit Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula. A very good and indepth tour is the Grand Historical Port Arthur Walking Tour from Hobart . This tour really does get you to the natural environment of the area as well as the Port Arthur Historic Site.
The Port Arthur Tour from Hobart concentrates more on the historical side and gives the most time on the Port Arthur Historic Site as is possible in a day.
If you have the time, you can spend several nights in the Port Arthur area, but it is always wise to book your accommodation to be sure you get what you want. Check out the Hotels in Port Arthur. Also find out more information here on deals for Hotels in Port Arthur .
To get out onto the water off the coast of the Tasman Peninsula, check out a Tasman Island Adventure Cruises trip which leaves from Pirates Bay at Eaglehawk Neck. This is the best way to appreciate the Tasman Peninsula's rugged coastline.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur was the largest and most feared Penal Colony in Australia from its establishment in 1830 until it was closed in 1877. It was not a nice place, for either the prisoners or the guards. Port Arthur was widely believed to be an impossible place from which to escape, a "prison within a prison" - man made shackles inside the natural, sea circled Tasman Peninsula, joined to the rest of Tasmania by only a narrow sliver of land at Eaglehawk Neck.
The colourful story of Port Arthur and the Prison System that backed it up is faithfully and entertainingly told in the authoritative Visitors Centre at the entrance to the Site. The meal options are good at the Site also, from the cafeteria to the excellent Felon's Restaurant.
In the 1950's and '60's, the Site was in ruins and used as a caravan park. Today they have been developed into one of Australia's leading explanations of the Convict and Transportation System, and Tasmania's leading Visitor attraction.
The Isle of the Dead
The Isle of the Dead is plainly visible from the Port Arthur Historic Site and can be accessed a s a part of the entry ticket. The Harbour Cruise included in your admission makes regular trips to the island, but if you wish to go ashore and inspect the old gravestones and the interpretative signs, you will need to book this as a separate tour on entry to the Port Arthur Historic Site. The boat drops those wishing to go ashore on the island as part of the regular Harbour Tour, then calls back for them some 40 minutes later on the next run.
Getting to Port Arthur
It is an easy 90 minute drive from Hobart to the Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur. There is so much to do, and so many spectacular walks to take, that you can easily spend 2 or 3 days of your Tasmania Holiday on the Tasman Peninsula.
Destinations in Tasmania