‘Some Stories Last More than a Lifetime’: Port Arthur

Photo showing the ”new” Penitentiary and hospital prior to fires destroying the site. Photo Courtesy of Port Arthur Historic Site.

Established in 1830 as a timber station, Port Arthur was a secondary penal colony. By “secondary” it meant that the prisoners were repeat offenders. The men and women who ended up at Port Arthur were those who had committed crimes after they had arrived in the colonies; The worst of the worst were sent here and the site was chosen for its remote and inhospitable location. Making escape impossible for the unlucky convicts who were imprisoned here was a priority at the time. Escape was almost impossible, with a line of vicious dogs guarding the only way out, a 100-metre-wide strip of sand at Eaglehawk Neck.

It’s one of Tasmania’s most popular tourist attractions, but the story behind the Port Arthur Historic Site is anything but easily digested, It’s been more than 140 years since the Port Arthur penal colony shut after 44 years of brutal slavery and punishment of the ‘worst of the worst’ sent from the motherland, some as young as 9 years old. Most were hardened criminals, others insane or you could say just unlucky. Some made it out. Hundreds did not.

There is so much already documented about Port Arthur that we will not give you another history lesson here. However we will give you 5 interesting facts to ponder.

1. The convicts built their own prison walls. 
Really ….. No thanks.

It’s hard to imagine that they would really care about leaving a few bricks loose!

The initial industrial penal settlement was built of timber from the surrounding forest and was home to key factories, such as ship building, shoemaking, smithing, and timber and brick making. But by the 1840s, Port Arthur was home to more than 2000 convicts, soldiers, and free officers (and their families), and by 1848 the first stone was laid by the prisoners for the separate prison, which stands as a central attraction today. 

The new Penitentiary even in ruins dominates the site.

This is the most photographed building on the historic site. The new Penitentiary as it was known had 136 separate cells on the bottom two floors for those whom one Commandant called ‘the lions’ – ‘prisoners of bad character under heavy sentence’. They had to be separated from each other and from the better-behaved.

The ”new” Penitentiary as it stands today.

The convicts ate and slept here but worked around the site and across the peninsula. Above the cells was a dining hall (which doubled as a school room at night), the prisoners’ library of ‘useful and entertaining books’ and a Catholic chapel. On the top floor was a dormitory for 348 better-behaved men.

2. An ambitious experiment….. but did it work?

Believe it or not, despite all of the cruelties that went on at Port Arthur, the Governor was trialling an ambitious experiment around the philosophy that prisoners could reform while still being punished.

Religious and Moral Instruction was given at church services.

The authorities’ aim was to offer its prisoners the opportunity to turn themselves into useful citizens of the future by building a system on punishment and discipline, classification and separation, religious and moral instruction, trade training, and education. In combination, they were to provide the convict with opportunities to turn himself into a useful future citizen. We can actually say that Port Arthur was Australia’s first TAFE. 

A sculpture of a ship now stands on the slipway where hundreds of boats were built. Master Shipwright Mr Hoy who was originally at Sarah Island, came to work and train the convicts at Port Arthur.

There were many benefits for learning a trade, apart from the obvious one in improving ones life. Convicts that were good at their trade also received privileges like tea and sugar, and some skilled prisoners were even rewarded for good work with a ration of rum.

However for those who did not tow the line. Harsh punishment in the form of solitary confinement was issued. Now we were lead to believe in school that these prisoners were kept in the dark for 23 hours a day. But in fact they worked in their solitary confinement quarters for 23 hours a day with one hours exercise. But they were not to utter a word or make a sound. They were kept in a state of silence. This represented a move away from physical punishment to a focus on psychological punishment. 

Isolation, confinement and total silence was the
punishment for the untameable

3. Convict tattoos… more than just for decoration.

It’s nice to know some things are woven through history. Go back 180 years, and even convicts had a thing for tattoos. And just like today, they were for many and varied reasons. From purely decorative, to a tribute to a loved one, and even a reminder of a trial date, or in fact when their sentence would be complete.

While some of the most common tattoos were that of a woman, a cross or crucifixion, a heart with the initials of a loved one, a man, and a mermaid – the most popular was that of an anchor, which was a symbol for hope.



How do we know about these tattoos? The government of the day were very precise in their record keeping. Identifying a prisoner was of importance so detailed descriptions were made.

4. Drawing the short-straw… the life of a soldier

There was no glory in guarding convicts. Speak to most soldiers and they say they train for battle to defend their country and that of their allies.

So imagine being called up for duty when there is not only no chance for any of that, you’re across the other side of the world in a place called Van Diemen’s Land. Most regiments posted at Port Arthur regarded it as a low point in their history. Their main job was obviously security, watching over the convicts working in the bush or building boats, and of course chasing after escapees.


With their accommodation next to the Commandant’s house, it wasn’t all bad news. Senior offices and their families apparently had busy social lives and enjoyed dinner parties!

5. The care of the older and infirmed


Most convicts lived a life of heavy labour, and for those already skilled they would be put to work in their trade. But for those men who were too weak for the heavy lifting, you’d find them in the gardens or performing light duties at Garden Point.

The hospital as it was prior to destruction by fire.
The hospital in ruins today

During the 1860s Port Arthur entered what is becoming known as its ‘Welfare Phase’. This period saw the construction of the Pauper’s Depot in the Hospital (1863-64) and the Asylum (1864-68). The result of an ageing and increasingly infirm prisoner population, these were the centres of Port Arthur’s somewhat benevolent leanings. Another result of the ageing prisoners was that the profitable convict-driven industries like timber-getting and agriculture took a downturn.

In keeping with the era, treatment for the patients, many suffering from depression or mental disability, was rudimentary at best. Convict patients were provided with a ‘soothing’ atmosphere, where they were allowed exercise and mild amusement. Work, though limited, was mainly tending the gardens, or chopping firewood. 

The NRMA caravan park where we stayed is the location of the convict gardens where they once flourished. Convicts walked the 50 minute return trip each day after attending to the vegetable gardens, which feed the 2000 occupants of the site.



Port Arthur Historic Site is one of the those few attractions where even when going in with high expectations, it still managed to excel. This is a historical site of untold disappear. As you run your fingers slowly across the hand-made clay brick remains of once imposing structures built on the blood, sweat and tears of convicts at the notorious Port Arthur Historic Site, you feel an energy, a deep melancholy and unexplained sadness.

The unease contradicts the view about you. The day is warm and peaceful with the leaves of broad ancient oaks and gum trees chattering in the breeze. Bumble bees hover over colourful flowerbeds and cherry and apple trees are bursting with fruit.

You can’t feel good walking about this monument with its horrific past that was enforced upon this land. A history that tried to be forgotten by so many even changing the towns name to Carnarvon to wash away the past. But nothing could erase the past, not even the bush fires that ravaged it. It has succeeded regardless. What has triumphed though is the stories of individuals who served their time, reformed, escaped or died. They left a history that we should never forget.


We have been to Tasmania on many occasions, but we have been unable to visit the Port Arthur site. It is 26 years since the Port Arthur “Massacre”, (how we hate that word). 26 years ago 35 innocent people lost their lives, and 23 others wondered, families were destroyed and dreams were never fulfilled. Kate Scott was one of those vibrant young lives, never will she grow old and never will she nor any of others be forgotten. We were finally able to pay our respects to Kate and those taken from us on that fateful day.

Rest in Peace



Your entry fee includes a 2-consecutive day pass, a free introductory tour and a free harbour cruise. Make sure you don’t miss the tours.

We would also recommend booking extra tours if you’re budget allows. We added in the Commandants Tour & Isle of the Dead Tour. The tour guides are all excellent – natural, passionate and knowledgeable. 

If you want to visit all the buildings at the Site, take in the museum and do all of the tours., you will need more than one day. We managed to have an action packed day from 8am till the close of the iron gates, but we were on a march.

Discover more about Port Arthur and Tasmania at www.discovertasmania.com.au

Following is a pictorial of our visit to Port Arthur. Some have been photographed in sepia. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Church of non denomination








The Catholic Chaplain’s house became a hotel as above. As a hotel it saw many film stars through it’s doors
Below you can see it restored.


The accountants home

Commandants house and below interior photos
Wall paper in the hallway
View from the Commandants House
The ”new” Penitentiary
The watch house and baracks






Join us next time when we go on an exhilarating boat ride to explore the highest Cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere.

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.

If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

Taste Testing Tasmania’s Best (part 2)

From Bruny Island to Port Arthur.

Oh no it’s raining, the wind had blown stronger throughout the night but we didn’t hear the rain. “Le Frog Box” is so well insulated that we hadn’t realised that it was raining until we opened the door, and it was freezing! Our plan today is to drive closer to Port Arthur sampling wines and produce all the way along. No set plan had been made on where we would pull up stumps for the night. Karen had marked a number of free campsites along the route we would just see how far we travelled.

Our first stop was Get Shucked for a dozen of the mixed oysters for breakfast! Yep oysters for breakfast, the best (cheap) beautiful fresh oysters for breakfast.


Yep Oysters for breakfast … why not

So fresh we could hear them being unloaded this morning as we stayed right next door last night at Bruny Island Landscaping. So good in fact there was a dozen natural purchased to be taken away. Next a double back to Bruny Island Cheeses yep we know we were there yesterday but we know they have fresh Sourdough sticks just about ready to come out of the wood fired oven.

After we collected these essential items and secured them safely it was onto the barge for the return trip to the mainland. TIP: Just a reminder here, if you catch the ferry from the mainland to the island at the “Supersaver” time slots it costs a lot less, you can return at any time to the mainland even at peak times and it won’t cost you anymore.

As mentioned our plan was to taste Tasmania on this leg. We were going to be passing a lot of distilleries, wineries, cheese makers, fresh produce shacks and we intended to try everything, well as much as our bellies could take. Also remembering drinking and driving is very much frowned upon, so Karen will be drinking and Rob will driving.

In the harsh early days of the colony, convicts, soldiers and free settlers all favoured a drink or two as well. Presented with an abundance of pristine mountain water and land perfect for growing barley, the colonists were soon producing their own spirits, with sixteen legal distilleries and countless small-scale farmhouse operations by 1824. 

In 1838 a new governor by the name of John Franklin decided that spirits were a bad influence on the colony, (BOOOOOO!) and banned distillation outright. (Double BOOOOO!!) This prohibition would last for over 150 years. But in 1990, Bill Lark managed to get the law overturned and established Lark distillery in 1992, launching the modern Tasmanian whisky industry.

Historical Photo of Sullivan’s Cove.
Photo Courtesy Tasmanian Government Archives

Sullivans Cove Distillery was established in 1994 at its original location at the old brickworks at Sullivans Cove, making it the second oldest whisky distillery in Tasmania. In the early days, the reputation of Sullivans Cove was poor to say the least, but in 1999 new ownership vastly improved the quality of the whisky being produced. 


The Barrel room. Tours of the Distillery are available,
bookings are essential.

This was the first distillery of our choice to visit, located now in Cambridge it was on our foraging trail today. Tasting took place in their beautifully appointed cellar door where you are asked to take a seat in leather wing-backed chair or on a Chesterfield lounge, very boys club.

Cellar Door and tasting room

We were guided at leisure by one of the knowledgeable cellar door staff members who talked us through the various whiskies on offer and answer any questions we had. We of course had many. After your chat about the Whisky they ask, you to choose from three different tasting flight options which include 3 x 10ml samples (approx. 1.2 std drinks): Karen chose the whisky flight with three of the core range/cask variations. Karen is a scotch drinker and likes a fine drop, but in her words “these are out of this world”.

Karen taking one for the team and tasting the Sullivan Cove Whisky

The attentive staff member answered all of the questions she had and then offered her a special tasting of a limited edition trail barrel that had just been bottled. Did this have something to do with us filming for YouTube or did Karen’s charm work a treat on this young man. Whatever the case we paid for Karen’s tasting $30 and left empty handed, Karen only really liked the $400 bottle, typical.

On existing the tasting room we find, thankfully that the skies have cleared. Onto our next destination and “Le Frog Box” led us right there. Frogmore Creek. The highly acclaimed Frogmore Creek wines are from the genuine cool-climate of southern Tasmania, where grapes benefit from a long growing season amongst a pristine environment. These slowly-ripened grapes develop pure fruit flavours, fresh natural acidity and are perfect for making world class cool-climate wines. We were truly looking forward to trying these wines.

Where to find Frogmore Winery, easy trip from Hobart.


Frogmore Creek vineyard


Elegant Cellar Door, breathtaking views,
beautiful wines and a restaurant we didn’t get to eat in.

This winery is home to both the Frogmore Creek and 42 Degrees South wines, the vineyard is situated in the produce-rich Coal River Valley wine region. The tasting room and restaurant is set amongst the vines, with breathtaking views over the surrounding valley and waterways. It is a perfect place to get acquainted with some of Tasmanian award winning wines.


Our Sommelier guided us through a variety of wines encouraging us to try various varieties that we would not have normally tasted. With her guidance we found new and exciting wines that could well become our favourites.

Well on this occasion we didn’t leave empty handed. Where to store all this wine? You can always store wine right! We didn’t stay for lunch as much as Karen would of loved to try a number of the menu item’s. We had a few more discoveries to make along the way.

With wine goes Cheese. High on Karen’s list to visit was Wicked Cheese Co. Wicked Cheese are boutique cheesemakers based just outside Richmond. They have emerged, in a few short years, to gain recognition as one of the most impressive, high-quality, hand-made cheese ranges in Australia.

love their label 💋

They have won numerous awards including best Brie in Australia, champion goats cheese two years in a row and Supreme Champion cheese at Royal Melbourne Show. Not only do they showcase their own produce but they have teamed up with other small local produces, making their destination a one stop shop.

Tastings at Wicked Cheeses


You can view the product being made onsite

It is an amazing outlet to find, jams, small goods, chutney, sauces, Australian native spices and herbs. After a generous cheese tasting experience, Karen filled her basket and we were off to find a place for lunch, to try some of her purchases.

Timing was right for us to enjoy Richmond and maybe have a lunch stop at the popular Richmond bridge. Richmond is rich in history and architecture, with more than 50 historic buildings, mostly from the 1820s. This is a wonderful town to explore and to learn about Tasmania’s past while enjoying visits to galleries, museums, cafes, retail therapy in gorgeous historical landmarks.

Beautiful streetscape
Lots of wonderful shops, cafes and restaurants
Australia’s oldest intact jail.

But in it’s past it was an important convict station linking Hobart with Port Arthur, and Richmond is known for housing fascinating landmarks, such as Australia’s oldest intact jail (1825) and Australia’s oldest remaining Catholic church, St. John’s, built in 1836. 

The most photographed landmark in Richmond is the oldest bridge in Australia that’s still in use. Built by convicts in the 1820s, it is made of sandstone and was completed in 1825 when Richmond was the 3rd largest town in what was then called Van Diemen’s Land.

And here is just one more photo taken to add to the collection.

We doubt that the convict builders ever envisioned the types of vehicles that now use this historic bridge, let alone the weight it carries. But here it stands testimony to their great engineering skills. This is where we decided it was time to eat, into the galley Karen went and a cream of Mushroom soup made from some wild fungus that she had purchased along the way, served with a sourdough stick fresh from Bruny Island this morning accompanied by cheeses from Wicked Cheese Co and a shared bottle of Pagan Cider, life is good.


After that feed it was time for a tour around town and to catch up on some history lessons. The Richmond Jail, is the oldest gaol in Australia. Built in 1825, it was in use until 1928 and gives glaring insight into the difficulty of convict life in the 19th century. It’s open for self-guided tours daily, and as you explore the cells you can learn about the stories of some of the notorious inmates, including the famous convict “Ikey Solomon”, who many say was the model for the character of Fagin in Charles Dickens’ novel “Oliver Twist”. you could wander this beautiful town for days, photographing every building, it is so picturesque.

Our thoughts turned to where are we going to rest for the night. As mentioned we had earmarked a couple of potential free and low cost campsites for the night. Tomorrow is our first day to explore Port Arthur so we certainly wanted to be close enabling a full day at the historic site which opens at 8am. We drove into the Dunalley Hotel, which if eating and partaking in an ale camping is free or they ask for a donation.

As found on WikiCamps, Dunalley Hotel would be a
great stop in different weather.

There were quite a few already in for the night and still plenty of room for us. However the wind was howling up there. Affording fabulous views also sometimes means if the wind is coming from the wrong direction you don’t have shelter. One stop to keep noted for another time with much more favourable weather conditions.

We both looked at each other and said “we are so close to Port Arthur let’s just go on through”. We had booked at the NRMA caravan park in Port Arthur for two reasons, there is no close free camping and we wanted to be close to the historic site to take full advantage, and we needed to know our site would still be there after touring all day. We called in to see if they had room for us tonight…. No sorry we will see you tomorrow. So what do we do now. There is a free camp spot on a gravel/dirt road 20klm away or we could try the other caravan park. Trying the other park was a wise decision. A non powered site set us back $30. The park is right on the beach and the amenities were spotless. We pulled in made dinner and fell into a deep sleep with the sound of the waves washing up on the beach …. Perfection. 

Join us next time when we explore the Historic Site of Port Arthur and surrounds.

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.

If you are interested in the products we used on our build on our product page is a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

A Pilgrimage to the most Southern road in Australia


Cockle Creek sits on beautiful Recherche Bay at the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is the furthest point south that one can drive in Australia. It’s a place of tranquil coves and sandy beaches. Distant mountain peaks, make a spectacular backdrop to the calm waters. This is one of those anchorages yachties dream about and we were thinking that Our Dreamtime would look perfect anchored out there in the bay. 

Tip: You will need a Tasmanian park entry pass to enter the National Park. It is easy to organise before you arrive in Tasmania here

It is here that tannin-rich streams meet the ocean, ending their meandering journey through buttongrass plains. The sheltered coastline and forested hills are home to an abundance of wildlife including shorebirds. That unlike other birds of the same species don’t want to steel your chips but are happy with the fresh catch from the sea.

A rich cultural history exists, being the homeland of the Lyluequonny Aboriginal people. For centuries this was their harvest ground for the once abundant cockles, oysters and mussels found at its mouth as it enters the sea. Middens in the region speak of the aboriginal presence here, well before  Europeans arrived.

The encounters between the indigenous people and Europeans is well documented, thanks to a French expedition, that sailed into Recherche Bay in 1792 on a mission to find the lost explorer La Perouse. However Bruni D`Entrecasteaux’s voyage had another purpose beyond the rescue of La Perouse. The voyage was also invested with the task of recording and documenting the environment and the people of the new lands that they encountered.

The expedition carried scientists and cartographers, gardeners, artists and hydrographers – who, variously, planted, identified, mapped, and marked the countries that they visited. They first visited the southern region of Tasmania in April 1792, and, desperate for water, they harboured in a bay that they later named Recherche Bay, after one of their sailing ships.

The ship Recherche that the bay was named after

The meeting of the local indigenous people and the crew were very harmonious. The readings from this voyage are very interesting and it was portrayed as a joyful experience meeting, conversing and learning from the local inhabitants. The remains of a garden planted by the French were found here in 2003, resulting in the creation of a reserve to protect the area. 

But the area was not settled but the French. The British initially settled in the area as a base for whaling, timber and coal industries in the early 1830’s, the settlement was given the name Ramsgate, when land was officially surveyed and subdivided. The many whaling stations were manned mostly by free settlers and ticket-of-leave convicts. Whilst many of the early habitations were crude and short-lived, some dwellings or buildings made use of convict-made bricks from Southport; some remnants can still be seen, such as the whaling hotel at Fishers Point.


Once a settlement with over 2,000 residents, its rich history is found today in Aboriginal sites, abandoned tramways, gravestones and ruins. Sheltered among the tranquil cove of Recherche Bay, Cockle Creek has campsites and basic facilities but no shops or services. There are two separate camping areas and each provide a number of campsite options. These days it’s a departure point for treks into the South West National Park, or for those wanting to kick back and relax. A simple stroll along the beach at Recherche Bay is enough to take in the peace, quiet and beauty of this remote place.


There is even more of Tasmania, south from Recherche Bay, including Australia’s southern most point. So often we hear of the legends of Cape York Peninsula, those who have made the trek north to one of Australia’s ‘last frontiers’. But how often do you hear of those who have been to the most southern point in Australia. Google it and see what you find. For two pages you will find that the reference talks of the southern points on the mainland. Little is said about one of the most southern points in the world before Antartica.  

Photo from the internet credit to Hobart and beyond.

And many Australian’s couldn’t name it, it is simply known as South East Cape. It is said ”Drive to the end of the road at Cockle Creek, then a well maintained walking track takes you to Tasmania’s South Coast. Stand on the cliffs of South East Cape bay, a bracing wind blowing from Antarctica, surf rolling in from the Southern Ocean. You are the southern most people in all Australia”.

As sailors it is one of the inherently crazy things that is talked about whenever the subject arises of circumnavigation. South East Cape being one of the 5 great capes of the southern ocean, and yet so few know of its existence.

We were fortunate to score the most southern campsite, we were quick to make came and then settle in to watch the sunset on another magnificent day of travel.

The following day we woke to the sound of the waves lapping the shoreline. Time to discover more of Cockle Creek. After a long walk along the beach to take in the beauty of this remote place. We then continued to Fishers Point Navigation Light and Pilot Station Ruins visiting the Whale monument along the way. Where we stood at the whale sculpture at Cockle Creek, 30kms south near South East Cape, we were in fact closer to Antarctica than to Cairns, and were feeling it too, despite it being summer. Cockle Creek is the most southerly point able to be reached by road in Australia. From nearby South East Cape, if you were to somehow sail due west, the next landfall you’d make would be South America, and to the east it would be the narrow sliver of New Zealand with nothing beyond that until South America came around again.


We decided that we weren’t going to do the walk to the South East Cape, we have been on the go it seems since we arrived in Tassie and this place was so quiet we wanted to just sit and take it all in. Maybe we will regret not doing the walk but some times it’s not about ticking a box but truly enjoying the moment.

For those wanting the information about the walk to South East Cape, this is the info friends of ours who live in the area told us. Behind the Rangers’ hut, there is a walkers carpark and walk registration both.


The first 3km the trail undulates across rocky ground and light forest, then becomes duck board as it crosses the buttongrass moorland. Wonderful wildflowers in late spring.  A little more undulation and coastal scrub, until you suddenly emerge onto the windy cliff top overlooking South East Cape Bay. Brace yourself for the wind here blows up from Antarctica, surf rolling in from the Southern Ocean: As an optional extension, continuing down the staircase provided on the western side of the cliffs. South Cape Beach is about 1km long to the western end where there are toilets. For those interested in a challenging hike there are organised trekking in Tasmania and one of their popular treks is the 3 Cape Track. located on the south-east coast, the route opened in December 2015 and remains one of Australia’s most coveted and essential hikes. Just 48 people are allowed on the track each morning. The four-day, three-night journey begins at the historical penal colony of Port Arthur.

Following are a collection of photographs of this magical place.

Rob making YouTube
Take nothing but memories and leave only footprints
Our Campsite Cockle Creek
View from our campsite
The most southern campsite
Waiting for sunset we phone sailing friends on SV Whoosh to tell them about this amazing anchorage.
Curious wildlife

Camping information

Cockle Creek is a very popular destination for families, offering a variety of recreational activities such as bushwalking, swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing and bird-watching.

The shady campground within the Southwest National Park is known as Boltons Green. Approximately 10 sites are available here for tent and caravan camping. Although caravans can access this campground, please be aware that the road is rough and flat campsites are limited.  

An additional 3-4  small tent sites can be found further along the road before you reach the ‘NO TENTS beyond this point’ sign.  Beyond this point there are limited sites available which are only for self-contained RV campers. Sites are not numbered so please try not to spread out too much, allowing for other groups to utilise the campground.

Basic facilities include pit toilets and a water tank at Boltons Green. Water is untreated and must be boiled before drinking. There is a public pay phone available at the visitor information shelter.

The Southwest National Park is a fuel stove only area​, no fires are permitted. 

Dogs are not permitted once you cross the bridge at Cockle Creek and enter the Southwest National Park.​

The following map shows the zones outside the Southwest National Park where dogs are permitted, where dogs must be on lead and the off lead dog zones.

  Map of Designated Areas- Southern Section – Cockle Creek – Recherche Bay NRA   (4Mb)

Other campsites

If you prefer to have a campfire or are bringing your dog on a lead, you can choose a campsite north of the bridge within the Recherche Bay Nature Recreation Area. 

There are a number of camping areas on the northern side of the Cockle Creek bridge and further north at Catamaran, Finns  Beach and Gillams Beach. See Recherche Bay camping for these sites. 

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments so if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.

If you are interested in the products we used on our van build, our product page has a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

Join us next time when we discover Bruny Island.

East bound taking in Queenstown, Derwent Bridge and Mount Field National Park

Up early we leave Strahan to allow time to checkout a few of the tourist hot spots along the way to Mount Fields National Park. We have had a mix of weather on the west coast and have used more winter gear than we do in a whole winter in Queensland so we were looking forward to the 30 degrees that Tasmania promised us today.

Nestled in a valley between Mount Lyell and Mount Owen, Queenstown is the largest town on the West Coast. Surrounded by dramatic hills that provide stark evidence of a history that once made it one of the richest mining towns in the world.

Today, Queenstown is experiencing a rebirth with a growing tourism and arts culture. But it will never rid its past for its unique landscape was formed by Copper smelting and excavating stripped the hills around the city bare and has stained them with unnatural colours. The hills have had a hard time regenerating so much that the moonscape is still there all these years later for you to enjoy. It’s a beautiful but rather haunting reminder of man’s greed and his responsibility to Mother Earth.

East of Queenstown we have the 99 bend challenge…. The staging ground for one of Targa Tasmania’s toughest sprints, the 99 Bends may not actually have quite as many twists and turns as its moniker suggests, but it is still an incredibly challenging drive that any hillclimber will love.

However Karen reminded Rob “we are not in a Porsche, but a distant European cousin called “Le Frog Box”, watch them sharp bends boy”. You can thank nature for shaping the winding roads that cover the island state – and the stunning, movie-set views you see from them. Believe it or not, the speed limit through the 99 Bends is 100km/h.

We wouldn’t suggest you try hitting it given the big drops off to the side – the elevation change in these 4km of

driving is around 200 metres. Surely someone is taking the p …. out of us, with those speed signs.

Our next stop has become quite a phenomenon in Tasmania. Wherever we went people remarked “have you seen the wall” … well no we haven’t and it hadn’t really come up on our research radar. Mmmm …. what is this wall about. Only the night before had we been told “Oh you must book, they don’t allow walk ups”. So onto the internet and sure enough “Bookings are now essential. To avoid disappointment book online before midnight the day before”. We booked and pay for our tickets $20 each, our only problem was we could only get a 1pm booking, once booked we received our booking confirmation, including very strict details on conditions of entry no photographs, no video and if we missed our time slot by 15 minutes we would forfeit our tickets. Oh dear best be there on time, which unfortunately meant we would be missing a particular walk that was on the way to Derwent Bridge, as we couldn’t risk being late. 

Derwent Bridge is at the southern end of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and surrounded by wilderness country. There are a number of accommodation options for walkers and those wanting to play in the winter snow. On arrival at “The Wall in the Wilderness” down the very long driveway we came across an extremely long building in the middle of nowhere. The building itself is impressive so it set our expectations high.

We think this hawk is the most photographed piece of artwork at the wall.

The Wall itself was created amidst adversity. The artist Duncan and his wife sold all they had, purchased the land and, as he says, “went for it”. It was a huge gamble. Was it too far out in the middle of nowhere? Would people travel? Construction issues also plagued the first years with Duncan building a lot of the shed himself in harsh winter conditions. The gamble has definitely paid off with more than 75,000 people visiting The Wall each year, 

The artist’s statement reads “On the 1st March 2005 in one of the most beautiful parts of Tasmania I set out to undertake sculpting a wall that would be 3 metres high and over 100 metres in length. The material would be Huon Pine. Through an often arduous at times but also immensely satisfying journey and over a decade and half later I welcome you to visit what is simply known as The Wall”. – Sculptor Greg Duncan

This fascinating piece of instillation artwork was created from the determination and ambition of the artist, to pay homage to the history of the Central Highlands of Tasmania and the grit and resoluteness of the people who make up its history.

The wall, features beautifully scented and rare Huon Pine, represents an ongoing project in which the artist has sculpted the story of the area. He depicts the history right from the beginning when the indigenous population lived in the area, to the pioneers who began harvesting timber from the ancient forests. Following the pioneering era, there are images of the pastoralists, miners and hydro-electric scheme workers, shown along with the many animals found in the area and the horses who worked alongside pioneers. Throughout the work you can read the political statement the artist is making about the environment and mankind’s effect on earth.

Though you are not permitted to take photographs the internet is full of them and following are a series of photos available.

Artist at work.

After doubling back to the local servo to fill the tank of very expensive diesel we devoured the best chunky steak and mushroom ”hot” pies from the Hungry Wombat Cafe, in the front cab of froggy with the heater on …. Where is that promised 30 degrees …. It’s currently 17.

As the winding road ascends through Mount Field National Park the stunning natural flora transforms, offering a constantly changing view as you climb to higher altitudes. Known as ‘the park for all seasons’, Mount Field is Tasmania’s first National Park and part the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Site and home to some of the world’s tallest eucalypt forests, as well as a unique array of alpine vegetation.

There’s a wide variety of wildlife in the park, including many of Tasmania’s native mammals and endangered species, such as the eastern quoll and the eastern barred bandicoot. Eleven of Tasmania’s twelve endemic birds can be seen here, too. Spectacular glaciated landscapes compete for attention with cascading waterfalls, including the breathtaking, three-tiered Russell Falls arguably Tasmanian’s say one of the most impressive waterfalls in Tasmania. 

We pull in late to the campground to find it absolutely full. It’s a Sunday what’s going on we haven’t seen this many people forever it seems. Karen goes over to the ranges hut to see if there is availability at another ground, Oh it’s a public holiday weekend, well that tells a story.

Ok back to our trusted APP WikiCamps. Just down the way is “Left of Fields Campground” their marketing spiel reads “So much more than just a campsite but a destination itself, boasting beautiful gardens, a unique 18 hole golf course, regular live music and generous space”. Yep it’s quirky to say the least. The sites are big, you are encouraged to have a campfire, it is a must to have a game of golf and to soak in the fireside bathtub. Oh and don’t forget to feed the chickens and if you find any eggs they are yours.

Fireside bath tub
Fire pits are supplied for you to use at Left of Field Campground
The chooks are very friendly at Left of Field Campground
Free eggs 👍

It Valentines Day, and not that we need to remind ourselves of the special relationship we have but it is rather fitting that we are going to visit what Tasmanian’s call their most romantic waterfall. Now it is going to have to be good to out do Lovers Falls and our very own private waterfall at Trial Harbour

Beginning our Mount Field visit with a leisurely hand in hand walk through the towering tree ferns and giant eucalypts on the short walk to Russell Falls sounds just the thing lovers should do.

Gentle Giants stand as sentries

Russell Falls is the star attraction and even featured on Australia’s first stamp. It deserves allthe attention it is simply breath taking. It is very popular so having the falls to yourself is difficult. However if you wait for all the lovelies to get their instagram pose just right you to can try one with your selfie stick.

Russell Falls cascades over three drops
Abundance of wildlife
These Fairy Wrens are a joy to watch as they flit about

The falls are only a short, wheelchair accessible journey from the visitor centre, through enormous fern forests and some of the world’s tallest trees. The wildlife is abundant with the potaroos enjoying the fresh shoots and seeds by the pathway.

Easy pathway to Russell Falls

But …. If you have had your weetbix this morning start the climb of numerous flights of stairs to take in the breathtaking view over Russell Falls to the valley below.

Ok there are steps to climb, lots of them.

Now that we have your breath back, If you continue the climb you will be rewarded with Horseshoe Falls and then beyond to Lady Baron Falls.

The top of Russell Falls
The view from the top is worth the climb
Horseshoe Falls are just up stream
Horseshoe Falls may not be tall but they are delightful
Baron Falls cascading

With stunning vistas, great walks, abundant wildlife and excellent visitor facilities we understand why with an easy drive from Hobart, Mount Field has been popular with nature lovers for well over a century. If you are here during the winter season, Mt Field National Park becomes a whole new playground offering downhill skiing and snowboarding, with tows operating and good cross-country skiing across the higher plateau. We were happy to see the blanket of green not white.

Join us next time when we camp in the most southern campsite available in Australia oh and it’s free. 

🌟TIP🌟 It pays to have your Tasmanian National Parks Pass. Apply online prior to travel save $$$$

Following are some more photos of our time at Mount Field National Park.


The national parks have included information
boards on fauna and flora along the walkways
We kept a watchful eye for platypus but unfortunately we didn’t spot any



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The Western Wilds of Tasmania – Tarkine Wilderness


The route we followed completing the loop to continue on to Corinna

If you are looking for the ultimate Tasmanian road trip into the wilderness, then you need to head west. Home to untamed rivers, ancient pine trees and giant sand dunes, the west coast is at the heart of Tasmania’s wilderness. It is isolated rough country, associated with wilderness, timber harvesting and mining. It served as the earliest location of an convict settlement in the history of Van Diemen’s Land, and contrasts sharply with the more developed and populous northern and eastern parts of the island. 

Now known as the gateway to Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area, its rugged mountains, ancient rain forests and heath make Tasmania’s west one of Australia’s last true wilderness frontiers. The island’s West Coast consists mostly of lush national parks. Fill your lungs with what is said to be the world’s cleanest air and be fascinated by the climate resulting in icy winters with freezing temperatures and pristine white beaches with unbelievable surf breaks. Western Tasmania is a place of contrasts. 

Just another country road

TIP: If you want to visit these National Parks and you most surely will want to, you can save money and reduce the risk of hassle by investing in a Holiday Pass or as we did a two year Tasmanian National Parks Pass. All the island’s national parks take entrance fees, but some of them have no controllers, instead just trusting in that you are honest and pay when entering.

Yet, despite its remoteness, there is easy access for those brave enough to tackle the Western Explorer Highway. It is a unique beast that is the most direct way to get around the coast and is most interesting. Known variously as the C249, the Western Explorer Highway built in 1990 it is the road to nowhere, this seriously remote route through dense forest and buttongrass plains crosses the Tarkine Wilderness has the feel of a true adventure, albeit a pretty safe one that connects the Arthur River with Corinna.

“The highway”

The “Highway” rewards those who drive it carefully – wildlife is abundant views are spectacular and this was the last known habitat of the Tassie tiger; take care lest it emerges from the bush. But be warned the term “Highway” is a very romantic view of a piece of gravel road, at 77 kilometres long you will know that you have traveled every inch of it by the end. However it opens up to a truly memorable experience. 

We leave our beach side camp at Montague ready and committed to do the Western Explorer Highway, this will be a real test on our van conversion building skills and how well “Le Frog Box” handles such roads. 2WD vehicles regularly make the two- to three-hour passage. At the north lies surf beaches like Marrawah, fishing settlements at Couta Rocks and Temma. And to the south lies the spectacular Tarkine wilderness rainforest, which will be our first overnight stop and then finally onto the settlement of Corinna.

Even though we are here in mid February don’t for one second believe that this is the Australia that is known for hot days and a baking sun. Instead, pack warming clothes, thick wool socks and rainwear. The wind is howling today from the southwest and there is nothing and we mean nothing between this coastline and Antarctica. At least the surf will be pumping at Marrawah, not that we intend on putting our toes in the water.

Marrawah is Tasmania’s westernmost settlement. It is a town known in the surfing world for its outstanding big wave surf which, in extreme weather, has produced waves reaching 19 metres. Apart from surfing Marrawah is a tiny outpost servicing the surrounding rich farming and dairy area. Beyond the town the farmlands tumble down to the sea at Green Point and West Point.

Beautiful campsite with BBQ’s and shelters but not in this weather


We had initially marked the free campsite here as where we wanted to stay tonight, but when we heard that wind arrive through the night and as dawn broke that wind was howling, we new Marrawah wouldn’t be suitable. We still wanted to see this famous surf beach, and are so very pleased we did. The waves were pumping not to the record highs but enough that the windsurfing guys were having a great time.

Windsurfer making the most of the windy conditions


A stunning beach area in the right conditions

We turned “Le Frog Box” in the direction of Arthur River.  This small town lies 16 km south of Marrawah and, although it is a tiny isolated settlement, it offers cruises up the Arthur River. The family owned Arthur River Cruises on the M.V. George Robinson leave Arthur River at 10.00 am, travel upstream for 70 minutes past banks densely forested with myrtles, sassafras, celery-top pine, laurels, blackwoods, and giant tree ferns. It includes lunch and a walk in the riverside rainforest, and return to Arthur River by 3.00. Unfortunately we had missed the timing for the cruise but definitely wanted to see what the locals call the “Edge of the World”.  

Rob braving the cold and standing on ”The Edge of the World”

Gardiner Point, which lies to the south of Arthur River, has called itself “The Edge of the World” because, apart from its isolation, it is further south than Cape Agulus (the southernmost point of Africa) and therefore the waves breaking on the shores have come uninterrupted all the way across the Great Southern Ocean from Argentina.

The edge of the world

With today’s conditions we totally believed we were standing on the “Edge of the World”. Karen was so cold her teeth were chattering. Time to move on and find some shelter.

Karen hiding from the winds at the mouth of Arthur River.


Leaving Arthur River means we are now officially on the Western Explorer Highway. It doesn’t take Karen long to question her plans to come this way. A number of times within the first 20 kilometres did she asked if “Froggy” was ok and asked “should we turn back?” 

The highway takes you through vastly different vegetation


An hours drive from Arthur River is the 447,000 ha Tarkine Wilderness Area Loop Drive, (FYI: It’s pronouned “tar-kine”, rhymes with “fine”, not “tar-keen”, rhymes with “mean”.) a vast wilderness of myrtle, leatherwood and pine trees which was once part of the mighty continent of Gondwana. However, whilst there is no official recognition of the name “Tarkine” I think Tasmanian’s have accepted the name, and it is generally agreed that it stretches from the Arthur River in the north to the Pieman River in the south and is bound by the west coast and the Murchison Highway. The Tarkine flanks the old mining towns of Roseberry and Corinna and includes the Sumac, Norfolk, Waratah, Rebecca, Pieman, Temma, Blackwater and Corinna Roads.

The Tarkine is vast and diverse. Some is wild, windy coastline, some is beautiful button grass plains, some majestic rainforests, some shack communities and townships, some farms, forestry and some of it mined. It is a beautiful area and anyone who has spent time exploring it will know there is a lot to see and a lot to take in.

The region has almost no permanent residents, but it has lots of wildlife including populations of endangered Tasmanian Devils. You can also find some of the richest aboriginal historical sites in the Tarkine, including shell middens and rock carving sites. The Tarkine is definitely off the beaten path so it’s not overrun with tourists, but it is still easy enough to get around.

The “Loop Drive” takes you through natural and dramatic landscapes beginning with Kanunnah Bridge, taking its name from the aboriginal name for ‘Tasmanian Tiger’.


you then come to, Sumac Lookout surrounded by rainforest and tall eucalypts and gives a more impressive widespread view of the river and beyond. From there the Julius River Forest Reserve has cool temperate rainforest to explore. The next stop Lake Chisholm Forest Reserve has flooded limestone sinkholes and meandering walks through old myrtle forests and alongside still watered lakes. Completing the loop is the Trowutta Arch Rain Forest Walk; a stunning and natural geological structure. This area is richly woven in human history and natural beauty. 

Sumac Lookout

The Loop has well marked signage for each of the places of interest.

One of the best places to get an overall good look of the area is at the Sumac Lookout viewpoint. A breathtaking view over the majestic Arthur River and the surrounding cool temperate rainforest. It is an easy, 10 minute walk. This area is again receiving a lot of attention by conservationists over the destruction caused by logging. A protesting blockade has been re-established in the Sumac area to hinder further logging. The Bob Brown Foundation says ‘while we wait for political leadership, we will occupy these forests in a peaceful vigil aiming to prevent their loss to logging’.

The view from Sumac Lookout shows the beauty of the area

Julius River

Julius River Car Park

The green on green on green of the temperate rainforest is enchanting at Julius River. And it made it one of our favourite parts of the Tarkine Drive.

A beautiful river walk


There are two short loop walks at Julius River. The shorter one takes about 30 minutes. It leaves from the end of the carpark and runs next to the river, over a bridge and then up a hill back to the start. The scenery here is just primeval, with tree ferns and lots of ancient plants that date back to Gondwana, the ancient supercontinent that formed most of the modern continents.

The longer walk takes in a few stairs

The longer walk takes about 40 minutes and makes a loop through the forest, it is a worthwhile walk but if you are short on time take the 30 minute one. The picnic ground at Julius river has tables, barbecues and toilets, which makes it a nice place to stop for a break.

Lake Chisholm


Imagine, if you will, a beautiful lush rainforest, still and peaceful with a sense of remoteness, and in the middle of it a calm lake with mirror-like reflections. That’s pretty much what you’ll find at Lake Chisholm.


How big did we say those trees are.

A picturesque short walk through tall trees, ferns thigh high (well Karen’s thighs) and mixed eucalyptus forest leads you to one of the finest examples of a flooded limestone sinkhole in Australia.

This was the day that we found out our Great Grandson Hudson Robin had been born. Karen named this tree after him wishing him a long and
healthy life. One day he may visit this tree too.


The forest you walk through is simply stunning in its lushness.  What sets Lake Chisholm apart is its origin. The lake was formed when a sink-hole in the limestone countryside became blocked. Water flowing into the hole had nowhere to go, and accumulated until a decent sized lake had formed.

Perfect mirror image


Being in a low lying area, the lake is sheltered from the winds common in the area, and so the surface is still and mirror-like. Platypus have been sighted here however we were not here at dusk or dawn so our likely hood of seeing these beautiful mammals was non existent. The path is a gentle incline and is listed as Moderate, there are stairs and some uneven ground and it takes approximately 30 minutes.

Trowutta Arch

The path is a very easy walk. there are some stairs to navigate.

A short walk through lovely rainforest takes you to an extraordinary and rare geological feature. The Trowutta Arch walk begins by entering the dense temperate rainforest beside an obvious sign. The walk is very easy and follows a wide, clear trail with little to no elevation gain. Along the way, you’ll get to experience the incredible beauty of The Tarkine, a true global treasure. Giant fern trees (man ferns) and fungi-covered logs dominate the understory, with towering eucalypts on all sides. Trust us when we say that if you’re visiting Tasmania’s Wild West Coast, you’ll want to add the Trowutta Arch walk to your list of things to do. The Trowutta Arch is also one of the most accessible around and one of Tasmania’s 60 Great Short Walks.


At the end, you’ll find a set of beautiful green cenotes (sink holes) framed perfectly by a tall arch, the remnants of an ancient cave. Trowutta Arch was formed by the collapse of the cave. The roof fell in leaving a section between two “sink holes”. When we visited the sink holes were full of water. However we have been told at times the water level is very low or non existent, it would still be worth a visit no matter what.

This has to be seen to be believed. straight out of Jurassic Park you can imagine Dinosaurs roaming these parts.
Pristine temperate rainforest

We pulled up stumps for the night in one of the National Parks Campgrounds 200 meters up the road from Julius Creek reserve. This is available to park pass holders and gives you the true feeling of being in the remote wilderness of the Tarkine. There are only 5 campsites you need to be totally self sufficient and leave no trace only your footprints. There is no booking system it is first in gets the spot.

It was truly a beautiful experience going to sleep with the forest noises of the nocturnal animals going about their business and then to be woken by the squawking, laughing and chitter chatter of the birds at dawn. Thank you Tasmania Parks for giving us the privilege to experience this.

Our camp for the night. Totally secluded surrounded by nature.


A warming Curry with garlic naan bread for dinner


We weren’t sure what to expect when planning our roadtrip on the Tarkine Loop Drive but we are soooooooo glad we went. It’s such a beautiful place and is still quite off the beaten path. There were only a few cars at most of the places we stopped. We even had some of them all to ourselves. If you find yourself in Tasmania, make time to drive the Tarkine, you’ll love it. However whilst the Tarkine Wilderness is magnificent, we felt a little disappointment with the loop road leading to it – the South Arthur Forest Drive (or the Tarkine Forest Drive, as Forestry Tasmania prefers to call it). 

Maybe our expectations were too high. The tourist literature portrays it as an unspoiled wilderness experience, but it isn’t. Most of the countryside the road passes through has been – and still is – extensively logged. The predominance of regrowth forest and the frequency of logging roads are a constant reminder that the area is far from pristine.

In a way, the “managed” forest along much of the road serves to highlight the unspoiled nature of the forest reserves within it. And for sure the reforestation ”Managed” forests are far better than logging natural forest. For us, the signs of logging outside the Lake Chisholm reserve provided a stark contrast with the forest within, and emphasised the beauty. A mirror-perfect lake at the end of the walk was a welcome sight. We both spoke of the timber industry leaving a corridor of growth so you can’t see the destruction, but this would be a false illusion. Better we see it so we can acknowledge what man does to earth.

Join us next time when we explore Corinna Tasmania’s Wild Western Frontier and the majestic Pieman River. Full of histoy and scenery to take your breath away.

Please find following more photos of this beautiful area, we hope you enjoy them.

If you would like to ride along with us whether it be on the high seas or on a dusty road out west, consider being a patreon find out about it here 👉 Dreamtime Patreon every little bit helps to keep us on the road producing Youtube and writing blogs as we hope you enjoy them. 

Please subscribe to the blog so you will be notified each time we post. To subscribe head to our home page.

We love to read your comments so if you have any questions pop them below, we will be sure to get back to you.

If you are interested in the products we used on our van build, our product page has a list. Many of these items we sourced secondhand, others we purchased from the manufacturer or retailer. We have found them online and listed them for you. Some of the links supplied we have an association with and we will receive a small commission if you purchase through the link, but it is free to look and do your research 😊 we can not promise all links to work as retailers may remove items, but we will do our best to update them 👍

Marrawah


Edge of the World


Arthur River

Julius River




Lake Chisholm





Trowutta Arch