Tasman National Park
Comprising a narrow coastal strip along the east and south of Forestier and Tasman peninsulas and several offshore islands, Tasman National Park protects dramatic cliff formations, crescent beaches and waterfalls that plunge straight into the sea. The names of the park’s strange geological sculptures – The Blowhole, Devils Kitchen, Tasmans Arch, Remarkable Cave, Candlestick and Totem Pole – give a hint of what to expect in this spectacular coastal environment.
From Hobart via Tasman Hwy to Sorell then Arthur Hwy to Eaglehawk Neck (various access roads lead from here to different sections of the park)
Spring and summer
80 km south-east of Hobart
- PWS 1300 135 513
- PWS Seven Mile Beach (03) 6214 8100
- Fortescue Bay Campground (03) 6250 2433
Park entry fee payable
10 750 ha
Port Arthur (03) 6251 2310, 1800 659 101
Featured Activities in the National Park
Dodge sea spray at The Blowhole
Photograph the impressive paver-patterned sea rocks of the Tessellated Pavement
Climb down the chasm into Remarkable Cave
Spot migrating whales on a fast-paced cruise
- Tasman National Park, Eco-friendly activity
A look at the past
Aboriginal people occupied this area for over 30 000 years and when Europeans arrived it was home to the most southerly group of the Oyster Bay tribe, the Pydairrerme. Abel Tasman sighted the massive sea cliffs of Cape Raoul and Cape Pillar in 1642. With its treacherous coastline and narrow land gateway at Eaglehawk Neck – a narrow isthmus between the Forestier and Tasman peninsulas – the British saw the Tasman Peninsula as an ideal prison location and established the notorious Port Arthur penal colony here in 1830. Transportation of convicts ended in 1853 but Port Arthur remained a prison until its closure in 1877. Timber cutters and orchardists settled the area in the 1880s. In the 20th century the region developed a vibrant tourism industry based on its spectacular natural features. Tasman National Park was proclaimed in 1999.
The park encompasses a coastline of blowholes, sea stacks, precipitous 300-metre cliffs and sea-carved crevasses. Fortescue Bay is a wild surf beach while there are sheltered waters in Crescent Bay.
Forests of blue gum, stringybark and mountain gum dominate in the west, while in the east she-oaks and silver peppermints grow on the rocky cliff tops. Tea-tree heaths are widespread with an understorey of dogrose and melaleucas. Three species of euphrasia, a perennial herb found nowhere else in the world, cling to rock ledges and crevices.
Nearly every Tasmanian mammal is found in the park, most notably the Bennett's wallaby, Tasmanian pademelon, short-beaked echidna, common wombat, brushtail and ringtail possums, and eastern quoll. In the thick undergrowth there are Tasmanian bettongs, potoroos, dusky and swamp antechinuses, eastern barred and southern brown bandicoots and eastern and little pygmy-possums, while swamp rats and water rats are found in creek gullies. There are colonies of Australian fur-seals at Cape Hauy, Cape Pillar, Cape Raoul and Hippolyte Rocks, as well as occasional sightings of leopard and elephant seals. Dolphins are common and migrating humpback and southern right whales may be seen between September and December and again in April and May. Little penguins and hooded plovers breed amid the dunes, while Australasian gannets, terns and yellow-bellied sea-eagles are often seen. In the forests are scarlet robins, fairy-wrens and honeyeaters.
The park offers the most spectacular coastal scenery in Tasmania and fascinating convict heritage at nearby Port Arthur. There is good ﬁshing and boating, with ramps at The Blowhole, Fortescue Bay and Stewarts Bay. The rocky shoreline is subject to unpredictable swells and king waves and cliff tops are precipitous, mostly unprotected and not suitable for young children. Underwater caves, wrecks and beautiful gardens of giant kelp attract scuba divers. Seaplane scenic ﬂights leave from Hobart's waterfront.
Rock-climbing enthusiasts ﬂock to the area’s sea cliffs and stacks – Candlestick, Mount Brown, Paradiso, Totem Pole and Moai. The rugged coastline is also popular for sea kayaking but good preparation is needed as sea and weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly. A hang-gliding launch site at Pirates Bay has a section of the surf beach below set aside for landings.
Tasman Coastal Trail (3–5 days one way) is an extended walk from Devils Kitchen to Cape Pillar, but walking shorter sections is also possible. The Devils Kitchen to Waterfall Bay section takes 2 hours return. Most walkers start at Waterfall Bay; the Fortescue Bay to Cape Hauy section (4 hours return) offers breathtaking views of Mitre Island and the Candlestick. In the west of the park, Cape Raoul Track (5 hours return) goes to one of the most spectacular capes in the park with a sidetrack to Shipstern Bluff, where surfers will ﬁnd Australia’s biggest waves occur on a south-west swell. At the time of writing there is a plan underway for a new six-day trail from White Beach to Pirates Bay via capes Raoul, Pillar and Hauy, with new camping areas, a boat crossing and luxury hut accommodation. Contact the park office for information.
Wildlife abounds around the park's rugged coast and the best way to see it is from the ocean. Jet-boat cruises head out to the park's most spectacular capes, circling Tasman Island and offering close encounters with seals, seabirds, dolphins and – if you're lucky – a migrating whale or two.
A lookout on the Arthur Highway, just before it descends to Eaglehawk Neck, has sweeping views across Pirates Bay to Fossil Island and Cape Hauy. A 10-minute walk from the lookout leads to the Tessellated Pavement, a strangely patterned seashore platform. When seas are huge at Fossil Bay, as they often are, the pressure wave at the Blowhole can be felt in your chest as you get out of the car at the lookout. At Tasman Arch and Devils Kitchen you can peer over the edge of sea-carved caverns and tunnels. In the west, Remarkable Cave is a tunnel connected to a deep crevasse in the cliffs, where you can descend and look through the Tasmania-shaped gap to the ocean beyond. It is a favourite surﬁng spot and the Maignon Bay lookout gives a brilliant view of surf conditions below as well as the sea cliffs stretching away to Cape Raoul.
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