The Convict Trail is a self-drive itinerary that starts in Hobart and takes you over 200 kilometres around the Tasman Peninsula.
The trail is partly picturesque, providing ample opportunities to see some of Tasmania’s most beautiful natural scenery, and partly historic, offering you a chance to step back into Tasmania’s convict past.
Depending on how often you stop to see and experience different attractions, the trail takes between one and three days.
Hobart To Richmond
Visit the historic village of Richmond, known for its antique shops, art and craft galleries, tea rooms and colonial past.
The village is an ideal place to begin learning about Tasmania’s history, especially when it comes to convicts.
The village is home to Australia’s oldest bridge, built by convicts between 1823 and 1825, as well as Australia’s oldest goal, built in 1825.
You can also see Australia’s oldest standing Catholic Church, constructed in 1836.
Old Hobart Town
Richmond is also home to Old Hobart Town, a miniature replica of Hobart as it would have looked in the 1820s.
The model is a unique chance for you to glimpse the early history of Tasmania and Australia.
You can get quite close to the model and observe the details, as well as learn about how it was constructed.
Wine and Food
Richmond and the surrounding areas are known for their delicious produce and wineries, many of which are located in the nearby Coal River Valley.
These are part of the Southern Tasmanian Wine Regions and you should consider visiting Frogmore Creek or Pooley Wines to taste some of the regional vintages.
If participating in a tasting, you can also expect to enjoy high-quality regional cheese and olives along with the wine.
Richmond To Port Arthur
Copping Colonial and Convict Collection
On the way to Port Arthur you will encounter the Copping Colonial and Convict Collection.
This unusual museum contains more than 10,000 authentic artefacts from the area’s convict history.
These items include everyday object such as leg irons and mouse traps, along with unique pieces including an original cell door from the Port Arthur penal settlement.
Entry is by gold coin donation.
Make a stop at Eaglehawk Neck, the narrow isthmus that connects the Tasman Peninsula with mainland Tasmania.
Among other things, Eaglehawk Neck is home to a historic site known as the Officers Quarters.
First built in 1832, it is thought to be the oldest wooden military building left in Australia and has been converted into a museum that looks at the history and life at Eaglehawk Neck.
In the region close to Eaglehawk Neck you will find a number of stunning coastal rock formations.
These include Devil’s Kitchen, the Tasman Arch, the Blowhole and Remarkable Cave, which is a window-like cave that looks out onto the sea.
There are also a few walks in the area to better take in the sights.
Port Arthur To Hobart
Port Arthur Historic Site
This UNESCO World Heritage-listed site holds about 40 hectares of convict history and takes between one and two full days to explore.
This is the most intact convict history site in Australia, having been home to 12,500 convicts between 1830 and 1877.
You will find 30 convict-built structures including the Penitentiary, a hospital, a church, historic houses and one of Australia’s first isolation prisons.
Guided tours are available.
Tasman National Park
Before heading back to Hobart, take some time to explore the Tasman National Park, a 107-square-kilometre conservation area located close to Port Arthur.
The national park is home to the tallest columnar dolerite cliffs in the world, along with a number of beautiful lookouts and popular walking trails.
You can choose from walks to Waterfall Bay (One to 1.5 hours) or Bivouac Bay (three hours) if you’re visiting for the day.
Alternatively, you can explore the walks at Cape Huay, Cape Raoul and Cape Pillar.
National Park fees apply.
Tasmanian Devil Unzoo
The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo is a popular stop on the way back to Hobart.
The park is known for its successful Tasmanian devil breeding program and gives you a chance to see the unique creatures up close.
There are other animals at the site and lots of opportunities to interact with and learn about Tasmania’s native wildlife.
- Seeing The Convict Trail – Seeing everything on the Convict Trail can be very difficult for visitors with a tight schedule. The time it takes to navigate to each area, particularly for those who haven’t visited Tasmania before, can make the trip a long one. If you don’t have much time, try to choose a few things to see consider travelling with a certified tour company that can help you to see the best the Convict Trail has to offer in a timeline that suits you.
- Visitors Centres – Each of the main towns along the Convict Trail have visitor information centres for the benefit of travellers. If you aren’t sure what sights to see on the trail (this list is just an overview) drop into their offices and have a chat about which locations are more applicable to your interests.
- Nearby Attractions – If you’re planning on undertaking the Convict Trail over a couple of days, you’ll likely have some time to spare to explore other attractions in Hobart and the surrounding area. These including the Cascade Brewery, Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, Salamanca Market, Mount Wellington and the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).
|Small-Group Tasmania Convict Trail Tour
Join a small group and follow an expert guide to see the highlights of Tasmania Convict Trail. You’ll witness the historic Port Arthur, enjoy a leisurely inclusive cruise, before heading to Richmond where you’ll see the Devil’s Arch, blowhole and Tasman Arch.
- Car: Self-drive is the best way to see the Convict Trail for those with the ability to hire or drive their own car. The most basic version of the trail is 205 kilometres long, with the Hobart to Richmond section taking 25 minutes (27 kilometres), the Richmond to Port Arthur section taking one hour and 10 minutes (83 kilometres), and the Port Arthur to Hobart section taking one hour and 20 minutes (95 kilometres).
- Tour: If you don’t have a car, taking a tour is the only way to see some of the most popular and interesting sights along the Convict Trail, particularly the Port Arthur penal colony. There are a number of tours available including a Port Arthur Tour from Hobart.
- Tasmania is an ideal place to learn about Australia’s convict past, with more than 70,000 men, women and children transported to Van Diemens Land during the early 1800s as convicts. In fact, five of Australia’s 11 convict-related sights on the UNESCO World Heritage list are located in Tasmania.