The wildly beautiful Tasman Peninsula

Picture this: 7 metre swell; Sydney to Hobart yachts slicing through; Pennicott Tour boat passengers soaked in the spray; Ginger tablets inadequate. Those amongst you who have sailed the Sydney to Hobart will know this neck of the ocean well, with, for want of a better expression, all its ups and downs.

Luckily, the day of my trip was “relatively” calm, so was lucky enough to score the whole one-way trip, from Port Arthur up to Pirates Bay.

Port Arthur looks relatively benign from the water. Very few of the original buildings survive. The yellow cottage was built for the Young Irelanders rebel, William Smith O’Brien (his story is a must read before you go to Port Arthur or Maria Island – or Tassie really). The commandants house has a remarkable story, in that the wallpaper is the twin of that in Oak Lodge, Richmond. (Booth was commandant, and his brother, Booth, lived contemporaneously at Oak Lodge, a discovery made by Alan Townshend from examining the wallpaper.)

These are Common Dolphins, ie not the Bottle-nosed Dolphins we might be more used to.

Found only on the southern most shores of Australia, and the first time I have seen them, are the Black-faced Cormorants, locally known to all dads as long-necked penguins. Also spotted, but epitonymously not photographed, were a couple of Shy Albatross.

The rocks on the western side are classic Dolerite cliffs, with the tell tale columns, at some 300 metres said to be the tallest sea-cliffs in the southern hemisphere.

Further round we found the famous crag and totem pole. Otherwise apparently sensible people climb down the crag, and then rope across to the top of the totem pole which they then descend so they can get closer to the raging angry waters. The only way off from there is to hope someone thought to bring a boat.

The seals are (first two) Long Nosed Seals, males only, and then the ubiquitous Australian fur seals, both sexes.

Tasman Island is the cornerstone, and spectacular. In the good old days, the lighthouse keeper and family had to ascend the steep cliff face on a hawser. In a good wind, the door was often unopenable.

Heading further north to Pirates Bay we passed Waterfall Bay, the feature of which was, surprise surprise, a massive waterfall.

The final view was underneath Tasman Arch and the blowhole up at Pirates Bay. Being Sandstone rather than the harder Dolerite, one day reasonably soon, as is the nearing fate of the Twelve Apostles at Port Cambell (Vic), it won’t be here.

A great trip, and well worth the gift voucher which my very generous hosts gave me towards its purchase.

Michael Monaghan

May 2023

One thought on “The wildly beautiful Tasman Peninsula

  1. Wow, very specky!!! Those dolerite sea cliffs are very impressive. Also nice to see the Black-faced Cormorants and the seals.

    Cheers, Caroline


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s