Sorrel is sentenced to hard labour and paddles her way to the beautiful Port Arthur.
Set within the natural beauty of the Tasman Peninsula, the historic penal settlement of Port Arthur is one of Tasmania’s most visited attractions.
Port Arthur began as a timber station in 1830 and was converted to a prison settlement in 1833. In a place called "Hell On Earth", prisoners suffered hard labour working on timber and coal mining gangs.
Water in the area is filtered and kept crisp and clear by kelp, and that, along with the surrounding scenery, just calls for a kayaking tour. It is also excellent for swimming and snorkelling.
Chris Blackaby offers many different sea kayak trips on the east coast. There’s the Port Arthur Tour, Saltwater Coal Mines, Fortescue Bay, Hobart Dock Historical Paddles, D’Entrecasteau Channel, and two, three and four day B&B tours which include a sea plane flight, wine tasting and accommodation.
Chris’s adventures usually begin at around 8.30am and end at 4pm. Port Arthur trips start at Stewarts Bay after a quick safety talk and orientation before getting into the kayaks.
During the first 90 minutes of paddling you go past the Isle of the Dead, the cemetery with 81 graves of free settlers. Ten minutes further on you pass the impressive sea cliffs, which are amongst the tallest in the southern hemisphere.
Morning tea is taken at Point Puer, which is where the boys’ prison was. It was established in 1834 to separate impressionable boys from hardened criminals. It’s good to take a stroll around the ruins, where you will see bricks hand-made by convicts.
Another 45 minutes on you will arrive at Port Arthur, which covers around 40 hectares. A half hour walking tour is included in the cost of your day, and it is surprising to see that most of the 30 remaining buildings are fairly well intact.
The Port Arthur massacre of 1996 now belongs to the history of the site. A reflection pond and the shell of the Broad Arrow Café, where many lives were taken, are there as memorials.
During the time you are away, Chris sets up a delicious lunch and with so much wonderful produce to choose from, it is a real gourmet experience, featuring Atlantic salmon, King Island cheeses and tasty goodies from a local bakery.
Then it’s back in the kayaks for another 90 minute paddle, past Atlantic salmon farms tucked in a sheltered bay, and back to Stewarts Bay where you relax on the beach and chat about the day over a cheese platter and glass of Tasmanian wine.