Australia // Tasmania //

Adventure on the Tasman Peninsula

While Port Arthur is the major attraction, the wild peninsula is worth a visit in its own right, especially for its bushwalks and superb south and eastern coastline. Some of the finest coastal features are around Eaglehawk Neck: just to the north of the superb arc of sand is the Tessellated Pavement, onto which you can climb down at low tide; and to the south, off the highway, a Blowhole which works in big swells, the huge Tasman Arch and the Devils Kitchen, a sheer rock cleft into which the sea surges. Much of this area is designated the Tasman National Park; the Tasman Trail is an exhilarating 16km coastal walk that starts from the Devils Kitchen and ends at Fortescue Bay, which has a good camping area (otherwise, the bay is 12km down a dirt road east off the Arthur Highway). The coastline south around Cape Huay (4hr return from campsite) is more stunning still. You can download walking notes for the Tasman Trail from the NPWS website. South of Port Arthur, walking tracks begin from Remarkable Cave: to Crescent Bay (5hr return), Mount Brown (5hr return) and Maingon Blowhole (3hr return). With your own transport, walks from Highcroft west to Cape Raoul and Shipstern’s Bluff (both 5hr return) are recommended.

For many visitors an eco-cruise by Tasman Island Cruises (daily 10am, Dec–May also 2pm; 3hr; $100; t03/6250 2200, whttp://www.tasmancruises.com.au) rates on a par with Port Arthur. A high-speed boat jets down the coast from Pirates Bay or Port Arthur, hugging the 190m cliffs and surging into sea-caves of the southern Tasman Peninsula – expect to see and learn about giant kelp, jellyfish, sea eagles, the seals on Tasman Island and, if you’re lucky, dolphins and even whales (usually late Nov, early Dec) – highly recommended. Full-day tours go from Hobart (from $165) and include visits to Port Arthur or the Devil Centre at Taranna; visit the cruise centre in Hobart on Franklin Wharf by Constitution Dock. Eaglehawk Dive Centre, 178 Pirates Bay Drive (t03/6250 3566, whttp://www.eaglehawkdive.com.au), offers dive-boat charters (equipment included) at low rates to caves, shipwrecks, kelp forests and nearby seal colonies, with an underwater visibility of 15–30m.

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