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The mountain coast off of Port Arthur in Australia

Port Arthur, Australia

The very small town of Port Arthur offers a fascinating introduction into the history and culture of Tasmania—indeed, of Australia as a whole. About a 100-kilometer (62-mile) drive southeast of Hobart, Tasmania's capital, Port Arthur is best known for its past as a penal colony. The Port Arthur convict settlement, which spreads over 40 hectares (100 acres), operated from the 1830s until 1877. Today its stone buildings make up one of several UNESCO-designated Australian Convict Sites on Tasmania. The whalers, miners, farmers and bushrangers who once lived in this region have given way to artists, foodies and rock climbers. The dramatic landscape ties it all together, infusing the identity of the people as well as the incredible food, drink and culture scene, for which Tasmania has become renowned. From the towering sea cliffs around Port Arthur to Hobart's historic Salamanca Place, southeast Tasmania holds much appeal for adventurous travelers. Add in artisan wineries and distilleries—and possibly one of the world's strangest museums—and you have a destination that’s easy to fall in love with.

Featured Shore Excursions