While The Tasman Peninsula is not, strictly speaking, an island, the isthmus which joins it to the mainland, Eaglehawk Neck, is so narrow - just 30 metres at its narrowest point - that during the 19th Century a chain of ferocious dogs were strung across to prevent the escape of desperate convicts.
The Tasman Peninsula is all too often visited as a fleeting day trip by visitors, who make the three-hour return drive from Hobart with the primary intention of visiting Tasmania’s most notorious convict site, World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site. This is a generally a mistake, for it is hard to explore Port Arthur in less than a day - indeed, passes are valid for two full days - and furthermore there is so much more to see and do.
Port Arthur, with its brutal history in juxtaposition with its breath-taking beauty, is one of the most popular attractions in Tasmania. As one of the most haunted places in Australia it even offers spooky lantern-lit ghost tours after dark. Lesser known, the World Heritage-listed Coal Mines Historic Site once housed up to 600 convicts who laboured here.
Yet The Tasman Peninsula has some of the most outstanding coastal scenery in Australia which made it the ideal place for one of the Great Walks of Tasmania, the three-night Three Capes Track. There are also around 35 short walks, many of which feature huge rock platforms, towering cliffs of up to 3000 metres in height and columns, off-shore islands and crashing seas. This is also the site of Shipstern Bluff – one of the most challenging surf spots in the world.
Add to all these pristine white sand beaches, a local winery, gin distillery and pelagic cruise to the edge of the Great Southern Ocean, and it’s no wonder that day visitors have more than a flash of envy for the lucky ones who choose to stay and soak up the scenery.
Photo Credits: Paul Hoelen