Hobart is an ideal home base for a long weekend in Tasmania. If you hire a car, The Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur are easily accessible for a day trip. Here are eleven of our favorite memories from our visit in November 2015.
1. Wine Tasting on the Tasman Peninsula
We love to taste wine especially in lesser known places. Tasmania features some fine vintages (especially pinot noir and chardonnay). The East Coast wine region is conveniently located en route between Hobart and the Tasman Peninsula. Many of the wineries do not have their own cellar doors but rather work with local shops and restaurants instead. We drove past the vineyard at Cape Bernier and discovered that we could taste their wines at Vines and Designs just a few miles away. The proprietor was very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable about the wines.
2. Pirate Bay
Continuing on, the scenery grew more and more amazing as we approached the Tasman Peninsula. Our first stop was Pirate Bay which features stunning views and bright blue, crystal clear water with a backdrop of steep cliffs.
3. Tesselated Pavement
There are a number of natural attractions along the Tasman Peninsula near Pirate Bay. They were clearly marked on the local map and also reasonably well signposted. We picked a few places to stop as we took the scenic route toward Port Arthur. When I saw 'Tesselated Pavement' on a road sign, I imagined it was some kind of warning about the quality of the road. It turns out that it is a striking geological feature in the area. A relatively uniform slab of rock lapping into the sea is criss-crossed with cuts. It's a great place to stop and have a wander around on a sunny day.
4. Tasman Arch
The Tasman Arch is another feature of the natural landscape of the Tasman Peninsula that almost seems to defy gravity. It's possible to walk up and over the arch for more stunning views of the sea.
5. Devil's Kitchen
We also hiked to nearby Devil's Kitchen. Named for the churning waters below, we were more impressed with the textured rock formations casting shadows from the sun.
6. Stunning Lookouts
Everywhere we turned, we spotted stunning lookouts. Many were just a few hundred meters from the car park. We love accessible views!
7. Weird Wildlife and Squiggly Writing
We spotted this weird writing as we were hiking near the Tasman Arch. Turns out this is the mark of a scribbly gum moth. How aptly named!
8. The Blowhole
The tide was on the lower side and the seas were fairly calm when we visited The Blowhole. Still, we saw some impressive splashing as the waves rushed into the small opening and exploded onto the rocks.
9. Port Arthur
Port Arthur lies at the very tip of the Tasman Peninsula. This historic penal colony was placed in this idyllic setting with green mountain backdrop because of the harbor (for ease of unloading prisoners transported from England) and because it was situated on a peninsula it was easier to protect. We strolled the grounds and imagined what it must have been like to be a prisoner at the end of the world. We also explored some of the houses and gardens used by the free residents of the penal colony (the warden, the warders, and their families). I could just imagine two very different experiences for the historic residents.
10. Windswept Beaches
On our return to Hobart, we stopped at a couple of windswept beaches to stretch our legs and admire the views once again.
11. Wildlife Crossings
In the US and Ireland, we are used to seeing wildlife crossing signs for deer and the like. In Tasmania, I loved the kangaroo, wombat, and Tasmanian Devil crossings. The speed limit drops to a crawl after dark in Tasmania because that's when all the native nocturnal animals come out. Road kill is a real problem here.
Given our 'curfew' to protect the local residents, we made sure we were back in Hobart with the car safely parked before the sun finally went down on our amazing day trip to the Tasman Peninsula.