Day 12: Dunalley – Port Arthur – Stormlea (69km): exploring Tasman peninsula

This morning I woke up quite tired and it took me a lot of time to get ready to bike. I had no exact plan for the day, except that I would bike to Port Arthur in the Tasman peninsula, and then either go camp near to Cape Raoul or near to Cape Hauy for a hike the next day.To reach Port Arthur from Dunalley, you have to bike through two peninsulas: firstly Forrestier peninsula, and then the Tasman peninsula itself. These two peninsulas are absolutely not flat (as you would have guessed) and linked together by a 150 m wide isthmus called Eaglehawk Neck. This geographical feature made the British settlers use Port Arthur and the Tasman peninsula as a major convict settlement. The worst criminals of the UK were sent there, at the other end of the world, and detained in very hard conditions. They were used as free workforce to help in the development of the new colony, building roads and railways, working in coal mines,…

As Eaglehawk Neck was the only exit of the giant prison that was then Tasman Peninsula, the settlers had installed there many watchtowers and a line of ferocious dogs all along the isthmus (the Dog Line). To further discourage the convicts, they even let them believe that the waters were infested by sharks. Finally, a network of semaphore was built in order to allow a quick communication of any evasion to Hobart and Dunalley.

Just before Eaglehawk Neck I enjoyed a beautiful viewpoint on Tasman Peninsula.

Tasman Peninsula viewed from Forestier Peninsula. In the distance we can see Cape Hauy
 Then, a steep and fast downhill brought me at the sea level for the crossing of the isthmus. This one will be painful on the way back… I then did a 10 km return side-trip during my side-trip to see three natural features that the power of the sea had crafted in the cliffs: a blowhole, the Tasman Arch and Devil’s Kitchen. The most impressive were Tasman Arch and Devil’s kitchen. It remind us the power of Nature, that has carved huge caves into the cliffs. Tasman Arch is a cave that partially collapsed, while Devil’s Kitchen is a completely collapsed.

Tasman Arch
Devil’s Kitchen
Back on my way to Port Arthur, I had another stop to an artisanal chocolate factory that proposed tastings. Their chocolates were surprisingly delicious and I was happy to buy some comforting sweets for the difficult moments 😀

A mandatory stop for me!
After all these stops, I arrived only at 4 pm at Port Arthur. Sadly, this was to late for a visit of the historic convict site, since I had to bike another 20 km (with 2 big climbs) to reach my campsite at the beginning of the track to Cape Raoul. One cannot see everything…

On my way to the campsite I saw an echidna, an animal that I had confounded with a platypus a few days ago. 

An echidna
Finally, after 2 difficult climbs, I arrived to the campsite. I found a nice spot and cooked me a good meal. The “campsite” was equipped with a sauna with a wooden stove. Since I had had no shower for 5 days, I had to try this! This was a really special and enjoyable experience! After the sauna, I took a cold shower under a fantastic starry sky, in a typical Finno-Tasmanian style! Another unforgettable moment!

I hadn’t showed you the inside of my palace so far…

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