Port Arthur, Australia Cruise Port
The top tourist destination in the Australian island state of Tasmania, the cruise port of Port Arthur, Australia is rich in both natural beauty and history. Designated as one of the country's most significant heritage areas, this town of around 500 people is located on the Tasman Peninsula, separated from the mainland by the Bass Strait. Sailing into its harbor, you would be hard-pressed to guess that the town has a dark past: Built as a penal site by the British Empire, it housed some of their most hardened criminals until 1877. Despite it being considered an inescapable prison (thanks to solider guards, hungry dogs, and shark-infested waters), convicts did try to get away – some of them successfully. After the prison closed and the area turned to tourism, landscaping and gorgeous gardens became another popular attraction. Here are a handful of our favorite experiences when cruising to Port Arthur, Australia:
The UNESCO World Heritage Port Arthur Historic Site is the number one draw here. Learn about prison and its convicts by guided tour through the open-air museum, either by foot or by boat. With more than 30 historic buildings, ruins, gardens, and restored houses included in the site, you'll while away the hours in rapt fascination.
If you're in town after dark and love the paranormal, the Port Arthur Ghost Tours are a must-do. While the prison is spooky enough during the day, hearing the chilling stories about its notorious residents with just a lantern to light the way is a whole other experience.
About three miles south of town is Remarkable Cave, a long rock tunnel that leads to the sea while waves crash around you. You can reach a viewing platform via the boardwalk and stairs, and it affords some awesome views. If you're a surfing fan, it's also a great spot for some of the more adventurous types.
For a sweet-smelling tour, check out Port Arthur Lavender. Used often in aromatherapy, you can browse the fields and get the plants’ healing effect firsthand. Afterward, stop by the café for a meal followed by lavender-infused ice cream.