I know boat trips and cruises aren’t everyone’s thing, but in my humble opinion, there is no better way to blow the cobwebs out than to scoot down the stunning Tasman coastline, with the sea air pummelling your senses under sparkling blue skies.
Come with me as I step aboard a Pennicott Wilderness Journeys boat for a truly remarkable day out.
Our day started early, way too early for a civilised Sunday, as we had to be down at Constitution Dock, Hobart for a 700am departure. The Pennicott Wilderness Journeys Tasman Island tour does not normally start that early, but we had to allow extra time to cross the Derwent River to avoid a huge fun run. Fun run, the World’s best oxymoron.
The upside of being out and about that early in the morning were the stunning views around the harbour bathed in the rising sun. Hobart is a pretty damn fine city.
Soon we were joined by around 40 other enthusiastic souls on a bus ride out of Hobart and around to Pirates Bay on the Tasman Peninsula, our departure point. To fortify ourselves we called into the Port Arthur Lavender Farm for fresh scones, jam and cream and strong black coffee. Seafaring food, if ever there was some.
The lavender farm was secondary for me as I just couldn’t wait to get on the boat. My excitement stemmed from a completely unrelated boat activity – the Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race. This race launches every Boxing Day (26 December) and the vision is absolutely breath-taking as the super-maxis zip down the eastern Australian seaboard. Their every movement is captured by helicopter film crews, including as they near the awe-inspiring Tasman coastline and cliffs. It was those cliffs I was excited to see in person at last.
Like a bunch of lemmings, we tumbled out of the bus, donned our very glamorous red raincoats and stepped off the pier. There was a small stampede to the back of the boat as some of our fellow mariners wanted to avoid the worst of the topsy turvy movement and possible waves breaking over the bow. Not for me! I was happy to experience this trip on every level.
I have to say the staff were absolutely excellent. They had maximum care-factor and faultless repartee as they handed out ginger tablets to settle the stomach and increase the libido (according to their spiel). Throughout the whole trip they could not be more helpful or passionate about their job. They exhibited a genuine love for this part of Tasmania and were more than happy to share it with a bunch of strangers.
Soon we were zipping out of the protected harbour and down the coastline. The scenery really has to be seen to be believed. Yes, you can take photos, but it simply doesn’t do it justice.
The cliffs loomed over us in every different colour from rust red, deep browns and steel greys. The vertical strata indicated the tumultuous times that heaved these rock formations up and out of the water. It is hard to comprehend Nature’s power and beauty until you see such structures created and then weathered by time.
We skipped and jumped across the top of the waves and then slowed to idle into sea caves and under towering overhangs. Being in a small boat, we were able to access places off-limits to much larger vessels. We even slowed to watch an insane tightrope walker who had strung a line up between the high cliffs and a rocky outcrop. I like to think I am adventurous and brave, but that pales when you watch these sorts of antics. Just plain crazy, in my opinion, although sensibly he did have a safety cord lashed to himself and, importantly, his hat. As we watched, this safety line got a good workout as he took tumble after tumble off the rope and into the nothingness. In my mind, a beginner tightrope walker should not buy green bananas, just in case he is not around the see them ripen.
Off we scooted again, reveling in the brisk temperatures and glorious blue skies. We could not believe our luck with the notoriously fickle Tasmanian weather. The crew pointed out teeming bird life, terns, albatross and gannets, and we laughed at the antics of seals as they basked on rocks and bobbed in the protected coves.
A highlight was to get up close to the Totem Pole and the Candlestick. These formations are popular with rock climbers who enjoy a serious challenge. First they must cross the heaving seas, before they can even think about climbing. This is an incredibly beautiful area, but personally I just can’t see the attraction of such death-defying climbs.
As we rounded Tasman Island, the crew handed out salty biscuits to snack on. How did they know this would be perfect for queasy stomachs? It was much appreciated.
All too soon we were heading away from the rugged coastline and motoring through much calmer waters near historic Port Arthur. Regardless of where I looked there was gorgeous scenery and I could not stop taking photos, until my camera battery died. That stopped me.
Gently motoring into Stewart’s Bay, we were wind blasted, sightly wind burned, but oh so happy.
Who needs man-made tourist attractions when a wild trip through Nature will do the trick?
If you are heading to Tasmania, don’t miss this ocean adventure.
When have you had a fabulous boat ride?
What: The full day tour costs $225.00pp and our group rate was $191.00pp. It includes morning tea at the Lavender farm and a delicious lunch at Gabriel’s on the Bay. It also includes visits to a chocolate factory, the Remarkable Cave and a return visit to the Lavender farm in the afternoon.
Where: Head north-east from Constitution Dock Hobart, turn South and travel half-way down the Tasman Peninsula, then onto a boat to skip down the coast line, around Tasman Island and back to Stewart’s Bay, right next to Port Arthur.
When: We visited pre-Covid19. Try to pick your weather for this trip. Due to the open design of the boat it would be fairly uncomfortable to do this trip on a wet and cold day. Pack a warm hat and wear sunscreen. The tour delivered us back to Constitution Dock at 6pm.
Why: For a pure adrenalin injection.
How: Brand new air-conditioned coach, super-powerful speed boat and a little bit of strolling too.
Who: This trip would be challenging for people with mobility issues as there are many disembarkations from the bus and the need to clamber in and out of a boat. Young children would love this action-packed day out.
Related Posts: Tasmania is an island (D’oh) so there are plenty of opportunities to get out on the water. On a previous trip we cruised on the Gordon and Franklin Rivers on the west coast of Tassie. Check it out here.
Related Blogs: If you have more time to spend and soak up the Apple Isle’s sites, then this leisurely tour around Tasmania may be just the ticket.
Read About It: For an entertaining historical read about Tasmania being the promised land, grab a copy of Matthew Kneale’s English Passengers. Set in 1857, an eccentric English reverend charters a boat to sail to Tasmania in search of the mythical Garden of Eden. Available from Book Depository.
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