A Tasmanian Adventure – Port Arthur and Mt Wellington!

And yes here we are again as I tell you of the adventures that I did have one the third and fourth day when I was in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. You can read all about the first couple of days HERE.

Hobart proved to be an incredible destination, one full of beauty and incredible 19th century buildings, I’ll be honest I did not realise just how many 19th century buildings I would find in Hobart, but I was blown away by them. Plus there are plenty of Art Deco buildings too, a style I particularly like, of course these came in the early parts of the 20th century although I believe some were designed and constructed in the 1970s.

The third day, or the second FULL day if you like here, was devoted to one main thing, and that was a visit to Port Arthur. This 19th century historic site was where so many convicts (male) were sent when they came to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) and frankly, the location is just stunningly beautiful, especially when the weather holds out for you like it did for our entire week in Hobart. 22-25 degrees Celsius every day with barely a cloud in sight. We could not have asked for better weather it was genuinely glorious.

We were picked up at the Brooke st Pier, which is also where the Mona ferries leave from (that will be in the next blog). Again, the harbour area is stunning. The bus from Experience Tasmania was already there, and we had around 20 minutes before it was leaving so we were in good time. I tried to film an intro for my vlog for Port Arthur (coming in May I think) but was having trouble with the camera. In the end I shot it on my Nikon, with pretty average results all said. I should have realised then and there that my microphone wasn’t working when it didn’t with the Nikon, but I thought it didn’t like the camera. I got my Sony working once in the bus.

Famous Richmond Bridge

The first stop was Richmond, where they have, according to the bus driver Kev who was fantastic, the oldest bridge still in use in all of Australia. So I guess, that was worth a photo. There was a Catholic church there in the small but very pretty town, not open to the public but he also said this was the oldest Catholic church in the country. Everything we passed was the oldest I guess lol…

We continued on, it was a long drive indeed to Port Arthur of about 90 minutes. Okay, that’s not overly long! We passed through Eaglehawk Neck, this thin bit of land with the sea on either side. This was what made Port Arthur such a formidable location for a prison – this long piece of land connected Port Arthur and the whole area to the rest of Tasmania, and so it was easy to control and prevent escapes.

As we came close to Port Arthur, Kev talked about the 1996 massacre. In 1996 an individual walked through the historic site and a café with automatic guns and killed 35 people. It’s something that as a visitor makes Port Arthur a bit of an uneasy visit, when considering the lives lost here and the way convicts were treated back in the 1800s, it already was.

My wife and I elected not to follow the tour, but to walk around at our own pace. It was a thirty minute tour, and our ticket included a ‘cruise’ in the bay at 1pm. The tour started at 1130am, and they must have covered the basics or moved at breakneck speed because we ambled around walking through about half the buildings before going back to the visitor centre at 1220 for lunch, so we’d have over 50 minutes. We had no doubt missed some great stories but we weren’t exhausted from the pace of it all.

The cruise all in all was a bit of a fizzer, and is included in the entrance ticket to Port Arthur which is $40AUD for an adult. You go around the bay and have things pointed out to you. We didn’t get to do the Isle of the Dead tour as I didn’t realise I needed to book on the Experience Tasmania website. That’s a tiny island where 1100 are buried, mostly in unmarked graves. That’s both convicts and soldiers.

We returned to the site and walked around the places we hadn’t seen yet. The Penitentiary is the main building, although I think it was a mill before it housed convicts. Most buildings were burnt out back in 1897 – the Penitentiary was one of them, with a shell remaining today. It’s the most recognisable of the Port Arthur buildings, the most popular image of the site. I will do a separate post in the future just on Port Arthur for you.

Inside the Commandants Hut at Port Arthur

On the way back to Hobart the bus stopped a couple of times, one to show us a blow hole, another for a great view looking back on where we had been. Our day was done, and we soon returned to the city.

That evening I realised I had problems with the sound on what I had shot for the first two days. The first day still had half of the sound, but sadly basically all of Port Arthur bar the intro was lost. I went up to a camera shop conveniently just 50 metres from where we were staying and I was able to replace a connecting cord which was the issue.

We headed down to Mawson’s Hut. Mawson was an Australian Antarctic explorer who visited the Antarctic several times back in the first 30 years of the 1900s. His hut still stands at Cape Denison, in Australian Antarctic Territory, and in Hobart there is an almost exact replica that you can visit. It’s even made out of the same wood as the hut in the Antarctic, Baltic Pine. It didn’t take long to visit, but it was well worth it and I recommend it to anyone visiting Hobart.

After that we met with an old school friend of mine I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years, who took us up to the top of Mt Wellington. The views were magnificent, as you might imagine, and we enjoyed a drink a third of the way down the mountain where there’s this little coffee shop in a crate and open air drinking in a superb little area. The views, the trees and the mountain breeze! Oh I rhymed! It was fantastic. There was no doubt, we were loving Hobart!

Thanks for reading, the rest is coming next Sunday! Take care and May the Journey Never End!

11 thoughts on “A Tasmanian Adventure – Port Arthur and Mt Wellington!

  1. What incredible views from the top of Mt. Wellington! Like you, I often choose to skip organized tours (unless I have limited time or limited knowledge of the place) and instead explore on my own; doing so gives you that liberty to go at your own pace, without the pressure of rushing it! Thanks for sharing more of your time in Tasmania. 🙂

  2. All these old buildings make me think that Melbourne or Sydney must have been comparable at the time, just the modern buildings have become too invasive there.

    1. well Melbourne was settled after Hobart and Port Arthur (which is 90 minutes away from Hobart by road). but you are right and in Hobart they have been very strong on preserving the buildings and keeping them.

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