Tasmania’s convict trail

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Its colourful history means that you can’t get to know the real Tasmania without a tour to learn more about the state’s convict past.

Of the 11 convict sites that have been officially recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, five are located in Tasmania.

From Richmond to Eaglehawk and the Port Arthur Historic site, the island state is dotted with reminders of the colourful characters who came to call Tasmania home.

Our four-day tour of the state’s main convict sites begins with Richmond, which is home to the first military garrison town and the Richmond goal.

This can be followed by a drive through the Coal River Valley and a tasting session that  samples some of the best cold climate wineries in the country. However, it is impossible to enjoy good wine without also eating gourmet cheeses. With this in mind, it might be a good idea to turn your wine tasting session into a delicious lunch date with friends. The Wine Centre in Richmond or Wicked Cheese on the way there are two suggestions.

After a quick drink and nibbles it is time to continue our drive to the Port Arthur Historic Site. This part of the tour can also include a visit to nearby Point Puer Boys’ Prison and Coal Mines Historic Site – two locations that are must see destinations for history buffs. There is also a ghost tour of an evening for those who aren’t afraid of shadows and the real history of the place.

With close proximity to the city (less than an hour and half) means that it is easy to catch a glimpse of some of Hobart’s main attractions, and those of the wider area, including Tasman National Park.

As if to point out the cruelty of the conditions these men and women endured, the natural beauty of this area makes it hard to believe that otherwise rough individuals could coexist with white sandy bays and beaches, rolling hills, temperate forests and sweeping plains.

The other part of our convict heritage is on show at Ross with another impressive convict built bridge and the remains of the Ross Female Factory, and nearby near Longford,  Woolmers and  Brickendon – farming outposts which used ‘normal for the time’ convict labour.

There is one other, but that entails a trip to the East Coast and an island journey – Darlington on Maria Island.

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