Tasmania is renowned for its natural beauty, top-notch produce and fabulous dining scene. But what’s sometimes taken for granted is how accessible it all is.
Take the Tasman Peninsula. Winding its way south-east from Hobart, it has dramatic bays, iconic historic sites, fabulous cellar doors and exceptional produce, plus some romantic digs to stay in while you tick it all off. And you’ll never be more than two hours’ drive from Hobart.
Here’s how to tackle a multi-day romantic break travelling from Hobart through the peninsula – what to see, do and eat, and where to stay.
Explore, eat and stay at Mona
Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) has developed a reputation almost as large as the city itself. Australia’s largest privately owned museum is frequently the host of mind-bending exhibitions, but the real hero is its own evolving collection of works that please, confound and confront in equal measure. Make a day of wandering the museum and its grounds, and take lunch at Faro, one of its restaurants, which serves share plates of local produce and a wine list anchored by Mona’s own Moorilla label. At the end of the day, check into the on-site Mona Pavilions overlooking the River Derwent. Each is named after a famous Australian artist and features artworks from the Mona collection. If you’d rather bed down back in town, head for Macq01, a luxurious modern edifice at Constitution Dock with spectacular views of Hobart’s picture-perfect waterfront.
Explore Cape Hauy, Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen by foot – with a stop for lunch and wine on the way
The rock formations of Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen on the Tasman Peninsula are a bit over an hour’s drive south-east of Hobart, but make some time on the way to stop at Bangor Vineyard Shed to taste some of its award-winning pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling. If it’s close enough to lunch, settle in at the cellar door to go large on plates of crumbed local calamari and bowls of pappardelle with Tasmanian mushrooms while soaking up views across Blackman Bay. Tasmania’s newest dining spot, Van Bone, is also close by. Seating just 20 diners, the Marion Bay restaurant serves hyper-local 14-course set menus, sourced from on-site gardens and orchards, and cooked with fire.
Afterwards, work off the meal with a couple of walks that take in the peninsula’s dramatic coastline. First, park up at Tasman Arch and gaze upon this natural forest-laden bridge that seems to float in the air above the ocean. Then take a short walk south to Devils Kitchen, a coastal trench framed by steep rock walls. Along the way stop by Cliffs Lookout Point, which provides phenomenal views south along the jagged coastline.
If you’re after something more strenuous, head another half-hour south for the spectacular four-hour return walk to Cape Hauy. This popular hike in Tasman National Park wends its way through woodlands and heath before a down-and-up series of stone steps leads to the cape itself – its vertiginous dolerite columns plunging into the sea.
Explore the peninsula by boat or kayak
Tasmania is defined by its island nature. So it’s worth getting out on the water to take in its beauty up close.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys runs a three-hour wilderness cruise along the coast between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck, taking in Cape Pillar (which has the tallest vertical sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere), waterfalls, rock formations, archways and deep-sea caves, as well as wildlife such as seals, migrating whales and sea birds.
If you prefer to do things under your own steam, opt for a kayak tour with Roaring 40s Kayaking. Departing from Fortescue Bay, the experience traces the coast to take in popular landmarks such as Cape Hauy, the Candlestick and the Totem Pole. The five-hour paddle includes snacks and a gourmet Tasmanian lunch.
Explore historic Port Arthur
A more sobering side of the Tasman Peninsula is its history as a convict settlement, its bluffs and sheltered bays pinched off from the rest of the state by the narrow isthmus of Eaglehawk Neck. Most famous of the settlements is Port Arthur, a brilliantly preserved collection of 19th-century prison dorms, outbuildings, dockyards and gardens. A single ticket allows you two consecutive days to take in the Port Arthur Historic Site’s many ruins, relics, tours and activities. There’s a 40-minute guided walking tour; a 25-minute harbour cruise; and access to more than 30 historic buildings, restored houses, heritage gardens and walking trails. Grab a quick lunch in Port Arthur Cafe or settle in for dinner with tranquil garden views at 1830 Restaurant and Bar.
Distil and stay at McHenry Distillery
It’s a short drive from Port Arthur to the iconic McHenry Distillery. McHenry opened in 2010, long before small-producer spirits became fashionable in Australia, and it shows in its fabulous, mature range of gins, whiskies and vodkas. For sure, stop by for a tasting, but maybe make a day of it with a gin-making workshop followed by a night in its on-site Brewers Cabin, a beautiful Scandinavian-influenced two-bedroom home.
End your Tasman Peninsula tour by staying just that little bit longer
There’s a stack of accommodation available on the peninsula.
Right near Port Arthur is Stewarts Bay Lodge, a nine-hectare property wedged between the peninsula’s woodlands and the titular white-sand beaches with its clear ocean waters. There’s a variety of accommodation options but, if you can, book a one-bedroom deluxe spa chalet overlooking the water, it will dial the romance up to stun.
Further north, Eaglehawk Pavilions is a pair of modern, self-contained pavilions high on the hillside overlooking Pirates Bay. There’s a full kitchen and unlimited wi-fi, but this is really about switching the phone to airplane mode, buying some local seafood to throw on the barbeque and settling in for a few more days of south-east Tasmanian bliss.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Tasmania – Come Down for Air. Find out more here.