Roadtrip Hobart to Port Arthur via Sorell, Tasmania

port-arthur-historic

Roadtrip Hobart to Port Arthur via Sorell – Beauty & History

So you’ve had a solid look around Hobart and ready to escape Hobart’s history and delights to uncover hidden gems, historical and cultural legacies of early life in Australia following European settlement. Travellarks has mapped a detailed roadtrip headed to, and including Port Arthur via lesser known Sorell. We suggest you base yourself in Sorell so you can explore this coastline and surrounds. It allows time to  really delve into the historically significant site of Port Arthur over a couple of days.

Go beyond Hobart to appreciate the rural life within a stone’s throw of the capital of Tasmania. Sorell is only a 30 minute drive from Hobart so take your time and soak it in. But wait, here’s your Hobart check list before you depart…

Stop 1. Hobart:

Begin your journey in Hobart, Tasmania’s capital. Even when it’s cold, clear skies and crisp clean air is the hallmark of Tasmania. So you’ve strolled along Salamanca Place and on a Saturday fossicked in the burgeoning artisan markets Salamanca Markets, picking up wonderful food, fare, and artefacts. On one visit I was thrilled to purchase a left handed bread knife which, for left handers, is a treasured find! You’ve been to historic Battery Point, and explored the captivating and sometimes controversial MONA (Museum of Old and New Art).

Hydrating in Hobart’s numerous watering holes won’t disappoint you with it’s eclectic array of pubs and bars, such Hope and Anchor Hotel serving local seafood & grills in a stately 1807 pub with vintage rifles and wall-mounted deer heads; the Boodle Beasley in North Hobart and nominated best pub of the year in 2023; The Shipwrights Arms boasts a “safe port no matter the weather” and I can attest to some serious sea shanties being sung here at historic Battery Point.

An icon of the North Hobart district is the refurbed historic Crescent Hotel Crescent Hotel with its rooftop, beer garden, private dining and events function areas housed within in a stunning property with its stone walls, polished floorboards and welcoming tones. In Salamanca Place the The Brick Factory and its modern twist serves loads of comfort food.

Pop into Hobart’s best laneway beer garden for a cheeky pint in the sun or in the heated under cover area on colder days at the New Sydney Hotel where food is served 7 days a week, craft brews are rotated and they say, has the best Guinness in town! Locally distilled gins and whiskeys compete with their international brothers and sisters. Tom McHugo’s gastro pub is located at 87 Macquarie St, Hobart. Well that’s a solid line up so now its time to hit the road!

Crescent-Hotel-Hobart-Upstairs-Dining-Travellarks-Roadtrip
Crescent-Hotel-Hobart-Upstairs-Dining-Travellarks-Roadtrip

Stop 2. Sorell:

As you leave Hobart, make your first stop at Sorell. This charming town is known for its picturesque landscapes and historic sites. Visit the Sorell Fruit Farm to pick your own berries or indulge in freshly baked treats at local bakeries. Sorell is one of the oldest towns established in 1808 where you’ll find the three National Estate-listed churches and the town’s oldest building, the 1827 Barracks. Sorell’s streets are lined with historic treasures, its coastline dotted with beautiful southern beaches and relaxed rural lifestyle.

A major attraction close by is World Heritage-listed Port Arthur so it’s an ideal spot to base yourself for a one to two nights while you explore that plus the following places also nearby. For accommodation, you would be absolutely pampered at the Wherewithal Suites, each accommodating 2 guests, in 2 beautifully styled villas.

Stop 3. Marion Bay:

From your base in Sorell, head southeast towards Marion Bay, a coastal town famous for its beautiful beaches and the annual Falls Festival. Take a walk along the pristine sands of Marion Bay Beach and enjoy stunning views of the Tasman Peninsula. Bream Creek Vineyard Bream Creek Vineyard overlooks the place where Abel Tasman first landed in 1642 to collect water and to plant the Dutch flag. Later in 1772, French Navigator Marion du Fresne anchored his ships Mascarin and Castries in what is now known as Marion Bay. The winding but gentle Arthur Highway will impress you with its mazing vistas and beautiful waters of Pirates Bay.

Bream-Creek-Vineyard-Tasmania-Travellarks-Roadtrip
Bream-Creek-Vineyard-Tasmania-Travellarks-Roadtrip

Stop 4. Eaglehawk Neck:

In Sorell, take a right turn towards the south onto the Arthur Highway before following this to Dunalley and further south to Eaglehawk Neck for about 30 kilometres. Eaglehawk Neck is a narrow isthmus connecting the Tasman Peninsula to the mainland.

Stop at the narrowest part of the neck known as the Dogline to learn about the importance of this small land mass and its past inhabitants, ferocious dogs, who acted as a warning to alert guards about potential escapees from Port Arthur. A life size bronze statue of a dog sits as a memoir of this time (by the Community Hall). Together with surrounding shark infested waters, deterrents for the unsuspecting prison escapee would no doubt be unwelcome.

Dogline-Bronze-Sculpture-Tasmania-Travellarks-Roadtrip
Dogline-Bronze-Sculpture-Tasmania-Travellarks-Roadtrip

Admire the dramatic rock formations of the Tessellated Pavement, a natural rock formation that’s surprisingly like someone carefully laid a mass of tiles at the northern end of Eaglehawk Neck Beach. You’ll get the best view of the pavement and the masses of kelp at low tide. For nature lovers, experience including local wildlife such as wombats, pademelons (a small marsupial), birds, or possibly whales in Pirates Bay (in season). Learn about the area’s convict history at the nearby museum. More information about Eaglehawk Neck.

Stop 5. Tasman National Park:

Be prepared for rugged beauty as you head south for another 27 kilometres entering Tasman National Park, renowned for its towering sea cliffs (the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest), dramatic rock formations, hidden coves, blowholes, powerful surf and pounding waves, offering breath taking vistas.

Taking the scenic drive further south along the coast, stop at lookout points such as Remarkable Cave to admire the breath taking views and the ocean abyss at Devils Kitchen. Keen hikers might take to 300metre high sea cliffs along Three Capes Track, Waterfall Bay and Cape Raoul.

The Turrakana / Tasman Peninsula is home to two of Australia’s World Heritage-listed convict sites.

Stop 6. Port Arthur Historic Site:

Head 18kilometres via Fortescue Bay Rd and Arthur Hwy/A9 arriving at Port Arthur one of Australia’s most significant heritage sites. Port Arthur is UNESCO World Heritage-listed where over at least 3 to 4 hours you can explore over 30 historic buildings and ruins to explore over 100 acres. Now you know why we recommend an overnight stay locally, as once you’re here, you will want to delve deeper into stories of the past.

Your site entry is valid for two consecutive days and includes a 25-minute Harbour Cruise and entry to the Port Arthur Interpretation Gallery, which features interactive exhibits and displays. There are numerous tours:

Escape from Port Arthur; Convict Tour;  Ghost Tour (only operates Wednesday to Sunday). Book tours here Port Arthur Tours

Explore the well-preserved ruins of the former penal colony, join a guided tour to learn about its convict history, and visit the museum to delve deeper into the stories of the past. Rest your aching feet later when 1830 Restaurant and Bar opens at 3pm and reflect on the unfurling of experiences of the day. Dinner is served from 5pm and features local produce such as Dunalley Oysters, Tasmanian Scallops, Rannoch Farm quail, Cape Grim Beef, Scottsdale Pork Belly, Marion Bay Chicken Breast topped with Tongola goats curd burnt Basque cheesecake for dessert or a board of Tasmanian cheeses.

Port-Arthur-Tasmania-Ghost-Tour-Travelarks-Roadtrip
Port-Arthur-Tasmania-Ghost-Tour-Travellarks-Roadtrip

Make sure you prepare for Port Arthur’s coastal site location with sensible walking shoes, layered clothing as the weather changes irrespective of time of year, shoes, raincoat, umbrella, sunscreen, hat, and check the local weather forecast.

Stop 7. Isle of the Dead Cruise:

We recommend taking a cruise to the  Isle of the Dead Cruise, where many convicts were buried during the penal colony era, the final resting place for more than 1000 convicts, military and civil officers, women and children, who were buried here between 1833 and 1877. The guided tour provides fascinating insights into the harsh conditions endured by the prisoners and the stories of those who lived and died on the island. The harbour cruise departs for the Isle of the Dead tour from the jetty at 12:20pm; 1:00pm & 3:00pm daily, is limited to 20 people and lasts 1 hour. Steep gradients may limit the capacity for some people to take this tour. Phone 1800 659 101 for more information.

Stop 8. Port Arthur Lavender Farm:

After immersing yourself in history, relax at the Port Arthur Lavender Farm. Situated in 7 hectares (18 acres) of lavender, rainforest, and lakes overlooking Long Bay, Port Arthur Lavender’s centre and café highlight ancient and modern uses of lavender, with a functional essential oil distillery. A café here will hydrate and top you up with traditional Tasmanian scallop pie, farmhouse sausage rolls and, drum roll…lavender pancakes! Yum!

1830-Restaurant-and-bar-drinks-Port-Arthur-Tasmania-Travellarks-Roadtrip
1830-Restaurant-and-bar-drinks-Port-Arthur-Tasmania-Travellarks-Roadtrip

Stop 9. Fortescue Bay (Optional):

If time allows, consider a detour to Fortescue Bay if you didn’t drop by en route to Port Arthur. This pristine coastal area offers opportunities for swimming, snorkelling, and bushwalking. The short walk to Canoe Bay provides stunning views of sea cliffs and coastal scenery. Bring a picnic or BBQ items for a coastal lunch.

Stop 10. Cape Hauy Track (Optional):

Outdoor enthusiasts can tackle the Cape Hauy Track in Tasman National Park. The track starts from Fortescue Bay and the 9.4 kilometre, 4 hour, grade 3 walk passes through a variety of heath and woodland before opening out to spectacular cliffs.

This challenging hike offers breath taking views of sea cliffs, rock formations, and the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean. For experienced hikers, there are steep stone steps before rising again towards the cape. Cape Hauy juts out into the restless ocean, with views on both sides. Geological formations plunge from the cape directly into the sea. Dress sensibly with appropriate footwear, water, clothing remembering to take your camera, phone, and binoculars Tell people where you are going, and when you expect to return.

Return Journey:

On your return journey, you can either retrace your steps or explore more of the Tasman Peninsula’s attractions, such as the Port Arthur Historic Coal Mines or the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo. Don’t forget to stop in Sorell again for another nights recuperation, a meal or to pick up some local produce before your onward journey. Enjoy our take on an interesting Hobart to Port Arthur via Sorell Roadtrip!

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