From the moment you arrive at Hobart’s tiny (for a capital city) international airport and see the customs-beagle jump up onto the baggage carousel and start sniffing newly arrived suitcases and backpacks for banned substances (which includes fruit in this pristine island state), you know things are done a little differently in Tasmania. That’s one of the reasons we love it, of course. Following are four quirky Port Arthur things to do on the drive along the Tasman Peninsula.
Port Arthur things to do on the Tasman Peninsula
1- Visit the Dog Line
Before Port Arthur was a tourist attraction, it was a penal settlement for convicts (1833-77) and the only way to escape was via a narrow piece of land joining the Tasman Peninsula to the rest of mainland Tasmania: Eaglehawk Neck.
So it was a natural place for a line of defence. But instead of building a wall or a fence, guards installed a line of savage dogs known for their “ugliness and ferocity” (according to one sergeant).
Chained close together, some even on pontoons, they’d sound the alarm if a convict appeared.
Now there’s a bronze statue of one of the animals and you can visit (for free) the former Officer’s Quarters, the only remaining structure, to see what life was like guarding the infamous “dog line”.
2- Visit Doo Town
This one has nothing to do with dogs, sadly.
Doo Town was once just another fishing hamlet on Pirate Bay. Then, in 1935, Hobart architect Eric Round put a plaque on his weekender that said, “Doo I”.
Now almost every house and shack has a Doo-name. There’s Make Doo, Doo Nix, Doo-Drop-Inn, Doo Mee and, my favourite, Dr Doolittle, outside a dark, Norwegian-style cabin.
Drive through on your way to the Blowhole, and the Tasman Arch and Devil’s Kitchen landforms.
3- Try The Fish cones at Doo-lishus
At the Blowhole carpark, a jetty and a few fishing boats give you a clue about this next attraction.
Doo-lishus fish and chip caravan is a local icon, serving freshly deep-fried fish in cardboard cones.
There are cone-sized holes in the picnic tables outside for you to rest them in while you eat – as well as oysters, rock lobster (in season) and home-baked goods such as curried scallop pies.
Their speciality is the Fisherman’s Cone, which overflows with fish of the day (gummy shark when I was there), squid, scallops and chips for just $15. Doo-lishus is open 8.30am-6pm daily.
4- Port Arthur Ghost Tour
Ninety-minute ghost tours run every night at Port Arthur Historic Site, but you can crank up the creepy by taking a Paranormal Investigation Experience. When looking for Port Arthur things to do, this one is quite unique.
These adults-only tours happen after the last ghost tour of the night, from about 10pm until about 2am (a light supper is provided halfway through).
You’ll be equipped with the latest high-tech gadgetry before you prowl, with a guide, some of Australia’s most haunted buildings, documenting what you experience. Tours cost $130 and run on the last Saturday of every month.
Port Arthur is in Southern Tasmania and within driving distance from Hobart. If you’re looking for a diversion from the multitude of Hobart attractions, you can visit the Tasman Peninsula as a day trip but for a more leisurely holiday, it’s better to stay a night or two.
There are plenty of other reasons to visit the Tasman Peninsula. If you’re planning a trip to the area, you’ll be interested in reading this post, which is more good reasons to visit the region.
The Tasman Peninsula is a natural and beautiful destination that is especially attractive to photographers. It has several undiscovered beaches, including beaches at Adventure Bay Bruny Island, where you can enjoy a long sandy strip of nature all to yourself.
One of the best places to enjoy nature in the Able Tasman National Park, where long white stretches of beach are really impressive. There are also some good spots away from the city to gaze at the Southern Lights.