Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Australia - Tasmania / Melbourne - Day 4 (Part 2 - To do/see, to stay, to eat)

To do:
Port Arthur Historic Site
Port Arthur, Tasmania 7182, Australia
Opening hours: 0900 till dusk (closing times for buildings are much earlier)

There are more than 30 historic buildings and ruins plus beautiful gardens to explore. The harbour cruise which is included in all the passes passes the dockyard, point per boys' prison and the isle of the dead cemetery. Commentary provides captivating details of the Port Arthurs' history.

There is several passes to choose for entry to Port Arthur: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Initial plan for us is to get the Bronze pass so we can have more time to explore. However, a last minute change in planning and we end up buying the Silver pass instead. The silver pass includes a a full day on site and an optional tour to go to the Isle of the Dead or Point Puer Boys Prison tour, lunch and an audio device to explain the various points of interest on the site. It is quite a good decision as i really enjoyed the narration and a much better understanding of the place than i will ever find out on my own. At the ticketing counter, i requested for the lady to help to mark out the must see of the site. Thankfully we did that because its quite a huge place actually to explore for half day. I left Port Arthur eventually at 4 pm and its still a mad rush as we had a next tour booking at 8 pm at Bicheno. Time is especially tight as the GPS shows that its more than 3 hours drive from Port Arthur to Bicheno

Its is also rather unfortunate that the main building Penitentiary was under restoration when we visit. Hence, the entire building is cordoned off. I guess this definitely cannot be helped.

The most interesting building will be the prison. Particularly the room that imprisons the prisoners to solitary confinement in pitch darkness. The room is really isolated and quiet. You can literally hear the pin drop.

Highlights: Port Arthur after the Dark. This tour is not for the faint hearted. I was very keen on this but my SO disagree to visit. So i can only highlight this tour to you. It includes a 2 course dinner at Felon's Bistro and the ghost tour.

If time permits, visit the coal mine historic site. This is the 2 of 11 historic sites that together form the Australian Convicts Sites World Heritage Property.

Bicheno Penguin Tours

The tour pick us up at our hotel and after us they continued picking up several more guests. Its a full bus load this night. The penguin tour is a 45 min tour of the private beach premises. There are plenty of penguins to see on the tour. But the penguins do not come up really close to us. So, we can only see it from maybe a feet away. Weather while penguin watching is cold and wet. Its was raining on and off through out and very cold at night.

The location of the beach is adjacent to diamond resort. Hence if you don't wish to pay for the tour, book a night at the Diamond resort. Do note that dining at the resort for outsiders are not permitted. How do i know? Because i tried. :(

To Eat:
Port cafe - 2.5 stars, budget
On the premises of Port Arthur

There are two selection for mains. I personnally feel that the pizza is the better option. Dessert has more choices and taste good. In general, the food is acceptable.

Delmare Caffe and Bar - unrated, mid-range
On the premises of Best Western Beachfront Bicheno

Due to time constraints, we only are able to order french fries for dinner. But the menu of the restaurant is quite varied.

To stay:
Best Western Beachfront Bicheno
Tasman Highway, Bicheno, Tas 7215

The room is HUGE. It is big enough to have the entire family. The room that i booked has 2 single beds and a queen size bed. Its also comfortable to sleep and easy access to the swimming pool.

Breakfast is served daily to your room with you specifying the timing of delivery. Order needs to be made by a certain time in the evening.

Its one of the most value for money rooms that we had on this trip.

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