Hobart to Port Arthur: Essential Stops, Sights & Activities
The day trip from Hobart to Port Arthur is one of our favourites in Tasmania. It delivers so much, some of the most stunning landscapes in Tasmania, and a chance to discover its rich convict history. Read on for our tips on making this journey and why we love this part of the Apple Isle so much.
We will discuss the best way to travel to Port Arthur and what to expect along the journey. This will help you decide if you should self drive, or take an organised tour. Even if you are planning to book a tour, it’s good to know what are the must see sites along the way to make sure they are included in your trip. We will also cover how long we think you should allow for the journey through this captivating part of Tasmania.
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Getting from Hobart to Port Arthur
While driving is a popular choice, there are other options available for reaching Port Arthur, including shuttles, tours and a public bus service. Let’s go over them and see which is best for you and your family or travelling companions.
Driving to Port Arthur
The driving distance between Hobart and Port Arthur is approximately 95 kilometres (62 miles) and typically takes around 90 minutes if you drive it nonstop. Despite its straight-line proximity of about 40 kilometres (25 miles), you’ll find the drive interesting as you navigate around the waterways to reach your destination. En route, the road passes through pretty towns and scenic landscapes.
The most common route to follow during this drive is via Richmond, Dunalley, and Eaglehawk Neck before reaching Port Arthur.
Along the way, you can stop at well-known sites like the historic town of Richmond to see the sandstone Richmond Bridge, built by convict labour in 1825 and the oldest large bridge in Australia. The town has also retained over 50 buildings from the Edwardian period, making it a lovely spot to wander.
Richmond is only 25 minutes from Hobart, so it might feel a bit soon into your journey to stop but we really think you should take a quick coffee break here.
Another must for us is to spend a bit of time in the Tasman National Park. At least add some of the remarkable geological formations of then area to your stops including the Tessellated Pavement, Devil’s Kitchen, Tasman Arch and the Blowhole at Eaglehawk Neck.
Public Transport from Hobart to Port Arthur
Public transport options for getting from Hobart to Port Arthur are limited. However, you can take a Port Arthur bus (734) from Hobart Town Hall or Rosny Park Interchange to Safety Cove Rd near Port Arthur. The bus trip takes approximately 90 minutes. Along the way, the bus stops at Dunalley and Eaglehawk Neck.
Check the bus schedule and ticket prices (currently $16 for adults)
Organised Tours to Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula from Hobart
If this feels a bit too difficult or you prefer a more structured trip, several tour companies offer guided tours from Hobart to Port Arthur. These one-day trips typically include transportation, admission to the Port Arthur Historic Site, and a knowledgeable guide to provide interesting insights about the area’s history.
Three tours to Port Arthur from Hobart that we recommend are:
Port Arthur Shuttle and Tasman Sights Tour with Tassie Tours
This basic shuttle trip is the economical option and includes a few stops along the way allowing you to see more of the Tasman’s Highlights
- A stop at Tasman Peninsula’s Eaglehawk Neck and Remarkable Cave
- A tasting at the Tasmanian Chocolate Foundry
- A visit to the Arthur Lavender Farm
Convict Trail – Port Arthur Day Tour from Hobart
This small group tour (max 12 ppl) includes your entry to the Historic Site at Port Arthur along with a guided walking tour of the site. On the way to Port Arthur, you make several stops to allow you to see some of the region’s most spectacular natural features.
- Pirate’s Bay Look Out and Hippolyte Rock
- Tessellated Pavement
- Port Arthur Historic Site
- Tasman Bridge
- Tasman Arch /Blow Hole
- Devil’s Kitchen
- Remarkable Cave
If you have a few days to spare, this 4 day Southern Tasmania tour has a great itinerary that covers Port Arthur for one full day plus a day seeing the top sites in Hobart and the Huon Valley before heading to Bruny Island.
See the full range of Port Arthur Day Tours, including some great walking tours.
Exploring Port Arthur Historic Site
Now let’s look at the main reason most visitors make this trip. The very well preserved Port Arthur Historic site. This large site has 30 buildings and ruins to explore. History lovers might want to consider that your site entry is valid for two consecutive days, so staying overnight in the Tasman Peninsula area to fully absorb the experience is a great idea.
Guided Tours of Port Arthur
When visiting the Port Arthur Historic Site, we suggest you join one of the guided tours. Your entry ticket to the site includes a self-guided audio experience, a harbour tour and some short site talks but there are more detailed experiences.
These include the Escape from Port Arthur Tour, a one hour experience that explores the convicts who tried to flee this remote prison. There is also a 90 minute lantern-lit Ghost Tour offered after the site closes (Wed-Sat). Experienced guides lead you through the site’s history and share fascinating stories about the convicts and settlers who lived there which really brings the site to life.
Points of Interest
There are several key points of interest at the Port Arthur Historic Site that you should make sure you don’t miss.
- Penitentiary: This imposing three-storey building once housed over 480 convicts in small, cramped cells. Take a walk through the penitentiary to get a glimpse into the harsh living conditions faced by convicts during that time.
- Separate Prison: This eerie building was designed for solitary confinement in order to inflict mental suffering upon the convicts as a punishment. The silence inside the walls remains chilling even today.
- Church Ruins: The remains of the picturesque church at Port Arthur represent a place of worship that was attended by both convicts and free settlers alike. Surrounded by lush gardens, the ruins reveal a more peaceful side of life at the settlement.
- Convict Water Supply: Explore the remains of a complex water supply system that was designed and built by the convicts themselves. This engineering marvel still shows the ingenuity and resilience of the convicts at Port Arthur.
While exploring the Port Arthur Historic Site, take your time and appreciate the incredible history of this unforgettable destination. Remember, it’s a significant part of Australia’s past and a testament to the strength of human spirit and resilience.
If you decide to extend your Port Arthur visit, there are several accommodation options to suit your needs. Port Arthur Historic Site offers on-site accommodation, including a range of self-contained apartments and cottages for a comfortable stay. You can explore the surrounding landscape during your visit.
If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, consider staying at a nearby motel or guesthouse. These accommodations provide a relaxed and friendly environment, allowing you to interact with fellow travellers while staying close to the main attractions in Port Arthur. We stayed at Abs By the Bay at Taranna, which is about 15 minutes from the historic site. It was a good base for exploring the region and had a lovely view of the lake.
Check out your accommodation choices near Port Arthur
For a more diverse range of accommodation options, consider staying in one of the nearby towns along the way from Hobart to Port Arthur.
Richmond: The picturesque town of Richmond offers an array of charming bed and breakfasts, inns, and hotels. Here, you can also visit historic sites such as the Richmond Bridge, Australia’s oldest stone arch bridge.
Eaglehawk Neck: Situated between Dunalley and Port Arthur, boasts stunning coastal landscapes and is home to a huge variety of accommodations, from holiday homes to motels and caravan parks.
Staying at Eaglehawk Neck allows you to explore nearby natural attractions such as the Tessellated Pavement, a naturally formed pavement of rock, and the impressive views along the coastline.
No matter which accommodation option you choose, ensure that it meets your requirements and preferences for a comfortable and enjoyable stay during your trip from Hobart to Port Arthur.
Local Activities and Attractions
Tasman National Park
One of Tasmania’s stunning national parks offers a variety of activities to enjoy during your visit. As you explore the park, you’ll come across stunning lookouts, challenging hiking trails, and fascinating wildlife.
To experience the park’s geological beauty, make sure to visit the rugged, sea-carved cliffs of Devil’s Kitchen. If you prefer a more leisurely stroll, consider taking a walk to Waterfall Bay for breathtaking views of the coastline. A visit to Tasman National Park is incomplete without spotting local native wildlife, so keep an eye out for the unique species that inhabit the area. These include…
Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck
Another must-see attraction on your journey from Hobart to Port Arthur is the Tessellated Pavement. Located near Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula, this geological wonder comprises a series of rectangular saltwater pools formed by natural erosion. The unique patterns make the Tessellated Pavement a popular spot for photographers.
The best time to see the Tessellated Pavement is during low tide. We decided to stay overnight nearby so we could do a sunrise walk here and capture some great photographs.
Food and Dining Options in and around Port Arthur
While travelling from Hobart to Port Arthur, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to indulge in the local flavours. Try adding a couple of these spots to make the most of your trip.
If you decide not to travel via the historic town of Richmond add Barilla Bay Oyster Farm, a popular spot known for its fresh seafood, to your list
We also recommend a quick stop at one of the many Fruit Farm for some fresh and tasty local fruits.
As you continue along the east coast of the Tasman Peninsula, consider a wine tasting experience. The East Coast wine region is located conveniently on Hobart to Port Arthur Drive. Many wineries collaborate with local shops and restaurants to offer you the best wine tasting opportunities.
Once you reach the town of Dunalley there are even more seafood options. This part of Tassy is particularly well known for its fish and chips. Try the Cannery Dunalley for lunch.
Lastly, when you reach Port Arthur, reward yourself with a soothing cup of tea or coffee at the Port Arthur Lavender café. It’s a perfect place to unwind and take in the picturesque view of the region.
The local flavours and fresh food on offer between Hobart and Port Arthur are yet another reason not to rush this trip!
When is the best time to visit Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula?
Port Arthur is a year-round destination, so you can plan your trip any time of the year. However, what you want to see and do here might influence your decision.
Summer (December to February) Tasmania does not get particularly warm at any time of year, so summer visits are especially popular with mainlanders. Warmer weather and longer daylight hours attract those wanting to hike the Three Capes walk or explore the region’s natural beauty.
You can expect temperatures to range between 12°C and 22°C. Be prepared for more tourists and potentially higher prices if you visit in December and January. Especially between Christmas and New Year when the yachties hit town for the Sydney to Hobart finish.
In Autumn (March to May) temperatures cool down come March, offering a comfortable climate with highs around 10°C to 20°C. The changing colours of the foliage make for picturesque scenery while driving. You will encounter fewer visitors in this season, allowing you to explore the Port Arthur Historic Site and the viewing points along the way at a more leisurely pace.
Winter (June to August) Rug up and bring some thermals for a winter visit to Port Arthur. Temperatures ranging between 5°C and 12°C are normal and although it’s not the peak season, it can be an excellent time to visit if you prefer a quieter experience. You can still explore the historical sites and enjoy the indoor attractions, but be prepared for colder days and occasional rain or snow.
Spring (September to November) Wildflowers blossom and the landscape looks mighty pretty in Spring. Milder temperatures, with averages between 8°C and 17°C are common. This is when the tourist season picks up, you’ll want to book accommodations and activities in advance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far is the drive from Hobart to Port Arthur?
The driving distance from Hobart to Port Arthur is over 100 kilometres (62 miles), taking around 1 hour and 30 minutes. Don’t be fooled by the straight-line distance which is only 40 km, you’ll need to drive around water and follow the roads to reach your destination. If you decide to self drive, try to start your day trip early to allow time to stop.
What are the must-see stops between Hobart and Port Arthur?
There are several interesting stops between Hobart and Port Arthur, enough to make it worth your while taking your time. Some of the must-see spots include Richmond, Dunalley, Eaglehawk Neck, and the Tasman Peninsula for wine tasting. We also loved Tasmania’s Tessellated Pavement.
Is a day trip to Port Arthur from Hobart feasible?
Yes, a day trip to Port Arthur from Hobart is workable, as the drive takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes each way. Similar to say a day trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains. Allowing a few hours to explore Port Arthur and the stops you might want to make along the way, you can plan for a full day of sightseeing and return to Hobart in the evening.
Are there any guided tours available from Hobart to Port Arthur?
You won’t have to look far to find a Port Arthur day tour. There are lots of options available to get you from Hobart to Port Arthur. These tours typically include transportation and a knowledgeable guide who will provide insight into the area’s history and attractions. There are also tours for those with specific interests.
What are the opening hours for the Port Arthur Historic Site?
Port Arthur’s opening hours are generally from 9:30am to 5:00pm daily, with extended hours during the summer months. It is advisable to check the official website for any changes in opening hours before planning your visit.
Does a ferry service operate between Hobart and Port Arthur?
Although there is no direct ferry service between Hobart and Port Arthur, you have the option of combining a scenic cruise along the Tasman Peninsula coast and a visit to Port Arthur. This cruise experience typically departs from Hobart and includes a guided tour of Port Arthur.
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