The Tasman Peninsula is situated on the south east coast of Tasmania and is located approximately 45 minute drive from Hobart. It is made up of two areas each joined to the other and the mainland of Tasmania by narrow strips of land. The peninsular has some of the most spectacular sea cliffs, unique natural formations and impressive historical sites Tasmania has to offer.
We allowed two full days in the area however you could easily afford to allow three to four days to thoroughly explore the area. If you are towing a caravan there are some narrow, windy dirt roads which are frequented by logging trucks in the more southern areas of the peninsular but don’t let this deter you. It is important to be aware, take your time or alternatively park your caravan in a location and explore by car.
What To See or Do
The Tessellated Pavement is a natural formation in the rock giving the appearance of a pavement made from individually laid stones. It is very interesting. The walk is 10 minutes return and dogs are allowed on a lead.
This is a narrow stretch of land is only 400 metres long and 30 metres wide joining the distinctive north and south land areas that form the peninsula. It was important in the decision to build the Port Arthur Convict Site because the very narrow neck of land gave very minimal opportunity for convicts to escape by land.
This is town named Doo and the town has a sense of humour with many signs and names about it using the word “Doo”. Some examples we saw are “Dr Doolittle”, “Thistledoo”, “Nothin’ Dooing”.
The Blowhole was not particularly impressive on the day we went. It is still worth a look.
Tasman Arch Lookout
The Tasman Arch is a naturally formed arch in the cliffs made more impressive to view due to the sea entering at its base.
Devils Kitchen Lookout
The Devils Kitchen is a similar formation to the Tasman Arch only it is open at the top. The sheer cliffs on each side and the view out to the sea are impressive. There is a short walk between the Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen which is well maintained and easy to do.
Port Arthur Historical Site
The Port Arthur Historical Site website has all the information you need to plan your visit. We were at the site for about 6 hours which allowed us to meander about all the areas and enjoy a picnic lunch (which we took with us). The Introductory Walking Tour (45 minutes) and Cruise (20 minutes) were both exceptional and included in the entry price. We did both one after the other on our arrival then wandered about the site at our own pace for the rest of the day.
Something to keep in mind if you are travelling with your dog is that dogs are permitted into the site. On arrival, let a staff member know you have a dog and after purchasing your tickets you and your dog will be taken to a gate to enter the site; this is also where you exit. Dogs are not permitted on the cruise or in the buildings and are to be kept on a leash. We found ample spots around the site to tether our dog Chika in the shade when required. It was actually quite pleasant walking around the grounds with her.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day at the Port Arthur Historical Site. The site is extremely well maintained, there is much to learn and experience and the staff around the site are well informed and pleasant. The garden and lawn areas are pleasant and this in contrast to the prison cells especially the insolation cells and the insane asylum. The site gives an eerie insight into what life was like at Port Arthur and how inhumane humans are capable of treating others in the name of punishment.
Cape Raoul National Park
The national park offers a number of walks and hikes along the Cape Raoul escarpment of varying length including Shipstern Bluff Lookout, the Cape Raoul Lookout, Cape Raoul and Sea Lion Colony Lookout. National Parks and Wildlife Services have done a significant amount of work on the repair and maintenance of the tracks making them very accessible.
Due to having only a limited time and having to leave our dog Chika tethered to our caravan at the Camp Raoul Retreat, we opted to do the walk to Shipsterns Bluff Lookout to watch the sunset. The walk took about an hour return and for a place we hadn’t heard of it left a lasting impression. The sea cliffs and the sunset over the ocean were memorising and has now become one of my favourite places in Tasmania.
The Dog Line:
During the time Port Arthur was an active prison, to guard the narrow land at Eagleneck a chain of dogs, half starved and probably terrified, was set up with the idea that no convict would attempt to pass the dogs. The site now has a sculpture and other historical information in remembrance of the dogs.
Located only 5 kilometres from the Port Arthur Historical Site is a 20m high sea cave. It is accessible in the summer, sometimes!
Where to Stay (Low Cost)
During our time exploring the Tasman Peninsula we stayed at low cost campsite. We found the area to have very few options that will allow dogs regardless we managed and really enjoyed our stay.
Cape Raoul Retreat:
Located in Stormlea, this is a campground on private land and is suitable for all set ups. It is located almost as south as you can get on the Tasman Peninsula and is at the beginning of the Cape Raoul walking tracks. The retreat offers a grass area for camping as well as a composting toilet and sauna. The fee is $10 per person per night to stay.
Primrose Sands RSL
Located in Primrose is about a 10 minute drive from the north end of the peninsular. The campground is also suitable for all set ups and power is available for $10 per night with money raised going back into the local community. The bay at Primrose was lovely for an evening stroll.
Dunalley is a small town right on the entry to the Tasman Peninsula putting you in prime location. The Pub offers free parking for Caravans, motor homes and the like on a grass area.
The Tasman Peninsular is a naturally beautiful place with some unique natural formations. It also has historical significance. Its close proximity to Hobart makes to accessible and an area to visit regardless of how brief or long your time in Tasmania may be.
Originally written and published: 22 February 2018
Edited and republished: 12 December 2019