Tasmania Stories and Tips

Day 7 - The way to Hobart via Port Arthur

Poppy fields at Swansea Photo, Tasmania, Australia

Today we were on the move – going south – we had two nights booked in Hobart and we were looking forward to visiting the big smoke (Hobart is Tasmania’s capital city).
On the previous night we had discussed the driving routes available and had decided that, for the journey south we would take the coastal road and for the return trip to St Helens we would take the central inland route. With that in mind we headed off in the direction of Bicheno, through town of Swansea to our first stop for the day – The Spiky Bridge.

The Spiky Bridge is a relic from about 180 years ago when the first europeon settlers to the area were making their mark on the map. The bridge was built by convicts and is aptly named for the spiky stones that were positioned in the tops of the side walls of the bridge. The bridge is located just south of the town of Swansea on the right-hand side of the road – keep your eyes open for the sign.

Back on the road again we continued south through Orford, where we stopped for lunch and then on to Sorell and out to The Tasman National Park and Port Arthur. Not far before a place called Eagles nest, on the way to the Tasman National Park and Port Arthur there is a sign pointing to a lookout which is well worth a look – it provides visitors with a view of the coastline heading toward the park.

Further around this road, at Eagles Nest, you will find a museum which is housed in the building that was once the Offices Quarters back in the days when the area was used as a convict station. This is an interesting museum to have a look at and costs nothing – don’t forget to walk along the short track that leads to the dog line statue – Eagles Nest is a very narrow neck of land that is the only way in/out to Port Arthur and the narrow stretch was protected/guarded from prison escape by a row of guard dogs, any prisoners trying to cross through the line were attacked by the dogs or caught by the sentries.

Just out of Eagle Nest you can drive out to the Blowhole, Tasmans Arch and Devils Kitchen which are all natural rock formations that are staggers along a short piece of the Tasman National Park’s coastline – the coastline consists of high towering cliffs and is quite spectacular to see.

From here it was a short drive to Port Arthur, which was home to the convicts and the soldiers and other personnel that were associated with looking after them. It is a very extensive site with plenty to see. For the basic entry price - $30/adult - you are entitled to a introduction to the site – guides walk you down to the grounds and explain what the site was used for and what went on there, the guides do not take you through the buildings or give you a tour – and you also entitled to the ferry ride that takes you across to where the boys were kept, around the isle of the dead (where the dead were buried) and back to the site – the captain provides a full commentary while the ferry is moving. There are more expensive packages that you can buy that include the hire of a recorded commentary that you can wander around with and tells you about all the buildings/objects of interest. History buffs and general visitors alike find this place interesting. We just enjoyed wandering around the site, looking at the building/structures and reading the plaques. We spend 3 hours there and didn’t see all of it – it’s a must see if you visit Tasmania.

Our visit to Port Arthur finished at 5.30pm so we drove directly to the Motel 426, at Sandy Bay, Hobart without stopping. It only took us about 1 hour so it wasn’t to far. We signed in at the reception office, got the key for our room, dumped our bags, changed and went for a walk along the road to the casino for dinner. We had a nice informal dinner in the Bistro and played a few pokie machines before heading back to the motel for some much needed rest.

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