Port Arthur, Tasmania – Maiden Call
When we woke and got up, we found some toiletries on the bathroom floor that had fallen due to last nights swells. Thankfully our sleep was not disturbed by the rough seas, perhaps even enhanced by the motion.
While we were having our breakfast, Queen Elizabeth made her final approach into Carnarvon Bay, within sight of historic Port Arthur. After breakfast we went back to our room and grabbed our camera, bottle of water and some sun protection. At the waiting area, priority was given to passengers who had booked excursions. But I must say, the transfers were very well coordinated and breezy, we didn’t wait that long until our numbers were called to board a tender to take us ashore.
Port Arthur is one of Australia’s most significant historic areas, a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula about 100km from Hobart by car. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Tasmania’s top tourist destinations. During its time, it was not just a prison, it was a community with a hive of industry producing a large range of products and materials. Today, with restored buildings, galleries, beautiful gardens and daily tours, Port Arthur is a must place to tick off on your bucket list when visiting Tasmania. Entry fee applies to all visitors to the site, for us it was included in our itinerary.
What to see!
The whole site can be appreciated by a slow paced walk, just follow the visitor guide map. There are sound recordings and interactive videos at several historical points as you walk around. Highlights of the tour include the following: The Military District, Point Puer Boys Prison (by Ferry), Memorial Garden, Convict Administration, The Dockyard, Welfare Area, The Penitentiary, Smith O’Brien’s Cottage, Water Supply, The Church, The Separate Prison, Civil Officer’s Row, Government Garden, Carnarvon Township, Isle of the Dead (by Ferry) and much more.
There is also a sadness when you visit Port Arthur, not just the lingering spirits and lost souls of history of old but the more recent atrocity of April 1996. A mass shooting in and around Port Arthur that left 35 people dead and 23 wounded. A memorial and reflection garden has been established in the grounds of the former Broad Arrow Cafe to honour those who lost their lives.
Back On Board
We tried so hard to get mobile connectivity in Port Arthur so we could update our socials but both our networks (Vodafone and Optus) could not establish a signal at all. Wifi on board is not included and internet packages are pricey.
Late afternoon lunch at Lido Buffet followed by a couple of drinks at the Lido Pool Bar, we watched the last tenders ferry the final bunch of passengers back. Immediately after that, Queen Elizabeth started to fire up her engines, blasts of the horns signalling her departure. A pilot boat guided her as we sailed into the open sea. We moved up to the Sports Deck on the viewing platform for panoramic views, dolphins joined us jumping out of the water ahead of the ship as we made our way into a spectacular sunset. We moved down to the main lobby to check out some bargains and souvenirs on offer and find a few niceties for family and friends. For luxe shopping, there are specialised designer boutiques on board.
It’s hard to believe that we are now cruising back to Sydney. Just two nights and a full day and we are back home, holiday is over. Tonight’s attire is semi formal and we are back on our 8:30 sitting at Britannia restaurant. It was nice to see our regular servers along with the other guests we had gotten to know as each evening arrived.
Tonights menu was quiet interesting. We ordered the following entrees, Smoked Salmon served with caper berries, cucumber, avocado, sour cream and toast shards, and timbale of Duck Confit and Aubergine with caramelised shallots. For main, Seared Sesame Tuna in sweet and sour pineapple, stir fried noodles, bok choy and pickled radish, and Chicken Tikka Masala served with Basmati rice, cucumber raita, naan bread and a poppadom. We chose an Italian wine to go with our dinner, US$37.95 – Frappato Nerello Mascalese from Terre Sicily Italy. We finished off with two luscious desserts, Italian hazelnut cake and low sugar almond cake.
Tonight’s entertainment in the Grand Lobby included the regular pianist and harpist. Casino area was drawing some crowds, it was very tempting to place a bet, who knows if the lucky black cat was travelling with us. After a couple of pints at the Golden Lion pub we went up to Yacht club for some late night entertainment before retiring around 1am, tonights walk back was very smooth thanks to the calm sea.
To be continued: Day 5
E_deliciou_S paid for this cruise.