Exploring The Historic Tasman Peninsula

20 February 2014

The seagulls were waiting for breakfast!

Our motel at Swansea fronted on to a reserve on the edge of Great Oyster Bay, and we woke up to find lots of seagulls on the lawn, obviously looking for breakfast (I think our neighbour  had been tempting them with some tidbits). We decided to have our breakfast at a little cafe opposite our motel, called The Ugly Duck Out, again overlooking Great Oyster Bay – my muesli with poached fruit and yogurt was a great beginning to the day.

Today will be a drive south of under 200 kms, and our first stop was Triabunna on Spring Bay.  Of course I sniffed out the heritage buildings including the Spring Bay Hotel, some barrack buildings, and Triabunna House where officers from the barracks lodged.

Fisherman cleaning and filleting their catch at Triabunna – Striped Trumper

On a walk along the waterfront we saw some passengers leaving for a four day walking trip around Maria Island which is almost opposite Triabunna (brave souls!), ferries also take passengers daily across to the beautiful and historic island.  Fishing boats had come in from their journeys, and we saw two fisherman scaling and filleting some large Striped Trumpeter, often found in these waters, and according to the fisherman, delicious!

We pressed on to Orford, a very pretty town on the banks of the Prosser River.  After a welcome coffee (and a citrus tart!) at the cafe, we drove to scenic Shelley Beach, one of the local beaches.  When we were returning to the highway I saw an echidna crossing the road  This time I had the opportunity to stop for a photograph – the echidna was very shy and curled up when it knew someone was around, but I did manage a few close-ups!  They are such special little animals, and cute too.

Our entry into Dunalley was quite sad, as we witnessed the still blackened and damaged forests left after the devastating fires in January 2013, and thought about the trauma the inhabitants must have suffered at the time of the terrifying fires.  We were passing large tracts of land where the forest had not recovered, and saw mountains in the distance still covered in blackened remains of once beautiful trees.

We were then only a short distance from our day’s destination, the Tasman Peninsula.  Our first stop was to see the Tessellated Pavement in Pirate Bay, then a trip across Eaglehawk Neck.  We stopped to see the Officer’s Quarters’ Museum and the Dogline with the statue of a fierce bronze mastiff.  These dogs were used to guard the Neck and to prevent convicts from escaping from the island.

Statue of a fierce bronze mastiff, part of the Dogline to prevent convicts escaping through Eagle Hawk Neck

We then saw the well known sites such as Tasman Arch, the Devil’s Kitchen, the Blowhole and Fossil Bay, looking down to where the tide was coming in and smashing against the giant rocks.  We had been so busy sightseeing that we realised we had forgotten to eat lunch, so at the kiosk at The Blowhole Pete had a chocolate icecream and I had a container of icecream, blackberries and strawberries and cream – so healthy!!

Part of the Tessellated Pavement, Tasman Peninsula

By this time we were getting quite tired, so decided to book in to or accommodation for the next two nights, the Norfolk Bay Convict Station bed and breakfast.  The original building was erected in 1838 during the early days of the penal settlement at Port Arthur.  To avoid dangerous journeys through Storm Bay goods were transported to the jetty right in front of the house (original jetty has recently been replaced).   The Commissariat Clerk lived in part of the house, and goods were also stored here.  The house has had some additions since that time, and is now heritage listed.  It is in a delightful spot overlooking Norfolk Bay, which looked so pretty with boats bobbing in the bay.

The weather had become cloudy and the wind had increased to blustery, and as dinner was available to us we took advantage of the offer, after a busy sightseeing day looked forward to an early night.

Our tasty dinner was salmon (for me) and grilled cutlets (for Pete) with a green salad and a delicious tomato salad – and some chips.  Washed down with a glass of Shiraz it was a great finish to a long and interesting day.

Tomorrow we will go to Port Arthur to explore this historic site, once a cruel penal settlement.

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