Day 5 of our Tasmanian roadtrip was spent mostly on the Tasman Peninsula, located in the south-east of the island state. We arrived on the previous night at Port Arthur, the peninsula’s most popular tourist site, where we spent an evening on the grounds of the historic site. After another morning visit, the rest of the day was spent on the road heading towards Hobart, making several stops along the way at scenic attractions. Our final stop of the day was the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Brighton – Tasmania’s largest wildlife rescue service.
Port Arthur Historic Site
Located on the southern tip of the Tasman Peninsula, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Port Arthur Historic Site is Australia’s most intact former penal colony. Now converted to an outdoor museum, the site covers 40 hectares of landscaped grounds and over 30 historic buildings. Today’s picturesque settings belie the suffering and hardships of those convicts unfortunate enough be imprisoned here; even the location of the colony was selected based on its isolation and difficulty of escape.
The previous evening, we took part in the “Ghost Tour”, a guided lantern-lit discovery of the most haunted buildings on the site, complete with stories of unexplained sightings and mysterious occurrences. Throughout its 47-year history, over 1000 people died at Port Arthur – maybe some of those souls never left the site?
Along the Tasman Peninsula
After the Port Arthur visit, it was back to the mainland via the Tasman Peninsula, taking advantage of great weather and the land’s natural scenic beauty. We stopped for breakfast at Port Arthur Lavender Farm, and lunch at Bangor Wine & Oyster Shed (amazing oysters here, the best we had on our entire trip).
Our stop at the Tessellated Pavement near Eaglehawk Neck was especially interesting. At low tide the rare and distinctive rock formations were very visible and easily mistaken for man-made tiles; the rock tessellations are in fact created from erosion and natural processes.
The Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary
Our final stop of the day, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is not a zoo, but a wildlife refuge and rescue centre for injured animals. From koalas to kangaroos, wombats to Tasmanian devils, orphaned and recovering animals of all kinds are found here, many of them unique to Tasmania. Guided tours offer up-close encounters with the animals – and you can also feed the kangaroos which roam freely on the grounds. Many of the staff are volunteers, and their passion for the wildlife and the protection of their habitat really shows.