Australia // Cruising the wild Tasman Sea with Pennicott Journeys
Most people come to Tasmania for the awesome hiking trails that run across this gorgeous island. But if you’re looking for something different, or simply want to give your (sore) legs a rest we might suggest you explore the island by boat!
We had been hearing some incredibly good stories about the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys company offering spectacular boating trips along the steep southern sea-cliffs of the Tasman Peninsula and Tasman Island so we simply had to go there!
We got up bright an early and made our way to Port Arthur. Besides being the jump-off point for our 3-hour boat cruise this town is also famous for the large prison where English convicts were held in the early days of Australia. We couldn’t wait to discover the wild nature of the Tasman National Park, so at 9am sharp we checked in at the Pennicott Wilderness Journeys reception.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys has won numerous Tourism Awards since it was founded in 1999, including three times the prestigious Australian Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism. You can imagine we were super thrilled for this trip!
Before boarding the sturdy 12.5m yellow speedboat we got a quick briefing from the experienced crew and were invited to try on one of the bright red raincoats to protect us from the splashes that would sure be hitting us when we were rolling through the waves of the rough Tasman Sea. Very fashionable!
We started our boat trip along the colorful rocks between Briggs Point and Standup Point, where dozens of Cormorants were taking a break on the rocks’ edges. If it wasn’t for the crew explaining us about these birds we would have sworn they were penguins!
After rounding Standup Point we slowly passed the gorgeous sugar white sandy beaches of Crescent Bay on the western side of the Port Arthur Bay, before crossing the bay and following the impressive southern coastline of the Tasman peninsula.
As we speeded in between the huge cliffs and rock formations along the southern edge of the Tasman National Park – these guys know how to handle a boat! – we suddenly halted to spot some of its cutest inhabitants: the Australian Fur Seals. A few of them were just lazing in the morning sun, others were playing around in the water in search of a healthy breakfast.
We continued our way along the spectacular sea-cliffs and even entered a couple of deep caves carved out by the sea water. We were particularly lucky to be able to do this, as usually the ocean is way too rough to enter these sea caves. But it was a lovely sunny day and according to our skipper some of the calmest waters they had ever seen in this area of the world. The crew was just as excited as us to venture in these remarkable places!
We were making our way through the Tasman Passage, the narrow stretch of sea between Cape Pillar (the most eastern point of the Tasman peninsula) and Tasman Island, when we noticed we weren’t alone here. A fishing boat, returning from what was probably a wild night of octopus fishing was making its way back to Hobart to sell the catch of the day on the fish market. The boat was equipped with dozens of enormous lightbulbs (to attract the octopuses) and covered in black ink. Must be quite a luminescent sight at night!
As we rounded Cape Pillar, we gazed at the towering sea-cliffs above us – the highest in the southern hemisphere! We had a quick look at the astonishing Cathedral Rock before crossing the Tasman Passage towards Tasman Island.
At Tasman Island we saw another colony of Fur Seals, this time about a hundred of them. They sure seemed to have a good day out there, most of them were lying in the sun, yawning and growling away and posing happily for our pictures. A couple of them were having a loud argument about one of the better spots to lie down, but they always made sure not to waste too much energy on this lovely day!
After floating around the Fur Seals for some a while we tightened our flashy red raincoats again and buckled up for the roughest part of the journey: the tour around Tasman Island. As we headed out further in the Tasman Sea to have a good look at the island and its lonely lighthouse high atop the sea-cliffs we saw a couple of Shy Albatross soaring skillfully through the air. These birds really are huge!
During our trip we scanned the horizon for Bottlenose Dolphins, Killer Whales and maybe a lost Humpback Whale – you never know, even outside of the whale season – but apparently they forgot to jump out of the water for us. No worries, we’ll reschedule for next time!
But even without the biggest marine mammals saying hello it remained an unforgettable trip. The incredible scenery, state-of-the-art speedboats and experienced crew explaining all about the history and wildlife of this part of the world make it very much worth your while!
As we were making our way back to Port Arthur the crew had one last little surprise for us: a delicious TimTam cookie. It couldn’t get more Aussie than this! We had an awesome day, thanks you guys!
See you next time Pennicott Wilderness Journeys!
- The 3-hour wilderness cruise costs AU$125 per person. This includes a motion sickness pill at the start and a TimTam at the end of your trip :)
- Cruises to Tasman Island depart daily at 9.15am and at 1.15pm.
- Protect your camera! Sudden splashes can damage both cheap and expensive camera gear :)
- Wear layers. Even on hot sunny days it can get quite chilly when you’re out in the open sea.
- Day trips from Hobart are also possible, as well as combination packages with the historic site at Port Arthur. Check www.pennicottjourneys.com.au for more details.