As its name suggests, Eaglehawk Neck is a narrow bar between Pirates Bay to the east and Norfolk Bay to the west. It is made of sand carried by currents and waves from the floors of Pirate's Bay to the east and Norfolk Bay to the west. This isthmus joins the Forestier Peninsula and Tasman Peninsula and the former Port Arthur Penal Settlement on which it stands in a narrow strip of land which is less than 100 metres wide.
It was here, during the convict penal settlement days, that savage attack dogs were chained from one side of the neck to other within reach of each other to deter prisoners from attempting an escape by land. As a sombre reminder of the location's use, a bronze dog sculpture marks the spot where chained attack dogs were once stationed.
At the neck itself you can visit the Tessellated Pavement, while a short drive south are the impressive coastal rock formations of the Devils Kitchen, Tasman Arch and the Blowhole. The Totem Pole is an offshore favourite with rock climbers and kayakers further south.
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By far the most well known feature of Forestier Peninsula is the Tessellated Pavement, situated a short distance from Eaglehawk Neck on the shoreline below the Lufra Hotal. This unusual geological formation gives the rocks the effect of having been rather neatly tiled by a giant. The pavement appears tessellated (tiled) because the rocks forming it were fractured by earth movements. The fractures are in three sets. One set runs almost north, another east north east, and the third discontinuous set north north west. It is the last two sets that produce the tiled appearance. This tessellated pavement is one of the largest in the world.
High on the hillsides above the Tesselated Pavement, Pirates Bay Lookout gives panoramic views down the east coast of Tasmania Peninsula with spectacular vistas towards Cape Hauy and Cape Pillar, which are both visible on a clear day. The lookout is on Pirates Bay Drive, the turnoff to the left off Tasman Highway being around 2 km before reaching Eaglehawk Neck when approaching from Dunalley. The lookout can also be accessed from Eaglehawk Neck. Simply take the Scenic drive past the Lufra Hotel.
Eaglehawk Neck is not only the gateway to the Tasman Peninsula, it is also the start off point to exploring Tasman National Park. This National Park protects what is one of Australia's most scenic and dramatic stretches of coastline. It's a photographer's delight, with steep rocky cliffs, natural stone arches, underwater and above-the-waterline sea caves, the biggest blowhole in the southern hemisphere, and so much more.
Pirates Bay is the large bay to the east of Eaglehawk Neck. The spectacular rocky coast around Pirates Bay features Australia's highest marine cliffs as well as caves, chasms, a blowhole and the famous tessellated pavement. Divers can explore the underwater rock formations and scattered shipwrecks. It is also the departure point for cruises down the east coast of the peninsula and Tasman Island. The cruises are very reasonably priced and off a close up view of this spectacular coastline, as well as seals and other marine life.
When conditions are right, Pirates Bay can be a great place to surf. At dusk locals head to the jetty in Pirates Bay, near the Blowhole and wet a line for some Mackerel, or head to Eaglehawk Bay where Flathead are sometimes pulled in.
Pirates Bay Blowhole
One of Australia's most consistantly active blowholes is situated at the southern end of Pirates Bay. The rocks in which the Blowhole, Tasman's Arch and the Devils Kitchen occur are permian in age (about 250 million years old) and were deposited as silt and sand on the floor of a shallow sea. It is probably that ice floated on the surface. Most of the pebbles from the ice were dropped as it melted.
Further down the coast from the Blowhole is Tasmans Arch, a natural arch which is really a greatly enlarged tunnel running from the coast along a zone of closely spaced cracks and extending inland to a second zone perpendicular to the first. The roof at the landward end of the tunnel has collapsed but the hole is too large and the sides are too high to form a blowhole. The tunnel was produced by wave action.
Just down the road from the Tasman Arch is yet another piece of evidence of the sea pounding against the coast. The 60 metres deep Devils Kitchen has been formed by a similar process to that which has created Tasman's Arch. Basically, if Tasman's Arch collapsed, it would lead to the creation of a landform like the Devils Kitchen.
The fascinating little village of Doo Town is located on the road to the Blowhole. It is mostly comprising of shacks and holiday homes that have names with the word 'Doo' included.
This is a three-hour hike with views of spectacular sea cliffs, starting from the carpark and lookouts for Tasmans Arch and Devils Kitchen, taking in views of the waterfall across Waterfall Bay, traversing around the bay to the lookout at Waterfall Bluff, which is decidedly worth the effort to get there, and returning by the same path. If you prefer a shorter walk, Tasmans Arch and Devils Kitchen are just a short distance from their respective car parks.
Another sight along the easy trail from Devils Kitchen to the Waterfall Bay lookout is a view down to the sea cave at Patersons Arch. Waterfall Creek is the source of the cascade at Waterfall Bay. At this point there is an opportunity to do a side trip and continue on for approximately 15 minutes to Waterfall Bluff where there are sensational views to the south of Cape Hauy, Totem Pole and The Candlestick.
Waterfall Bay Lookout
Waterfall Bay is known for its tunnels, caverns and caves. One of the most spectacular is known as Cathedral Cave with its huge entrance (maximum water depth 21m) extending back into smaller caverns with narrow tunnels and cross passages, often with large schools of fish near the entrances. They are considered as Australia's best ocean cave dives, walls covered in sponges and colourful invertebrates normally found in much deeper water.
This walk begins at the Waterfall Bay carpark. Follow the clifftops for about 15 minutes to Camp Falls, where the waterfall careens down the rocks. At Camp Falls, a sign points towards Tatnells Hill. The track climbs steadily and fairly steeply up the valley, criss crossing the creek, through wet rainforest, with its resident leeches taking some interest as we passed. Near the top of the ridge is a side track to Clemes Hill.
The flat rocks at the top of Tatnells Hill offer a panoramic view up and down the coast. You can either return the way you came or follow the ridge line up to Cashs Lookout, then back down to Eaglehawk Neck. At Cashs Lookout there is a hang glider launching pad with excellent views of Eaglehawk Neck and Pirates Bay. Cashs Lookout can also be reached by car via Pirates Road.
At a car park opposite the Lufra Holiday Hotel the most famous convict escape across the Neck is recalled in a small monument which reads: 'To mark the centenary of the death of Martin Cash - Gentleman Bushranger 26th August 1877 and his escape from Port Arthur across the Neck in 1843 with two companions, Cavanagh and Jones. 27 August 1977'. The error of dating seems to have remained undetected.
Cash was, by any measure, a remarkable bushranger. Born at Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland in 1808 he was convicted of house-breaking in 1827 and sentenced to seven years' transportation. He arrived in Sydney in 1828 and shortly afterwards was assigned to work in the Hunter district. He served out his time without incident until he was granted his ticket-of-leave.
In 1836 he engaged in some local cattle duffing and before he could be apprehended had fled to Van Diemen's Land where, in 1839, he was convicted of larceny and sentenced to seven years' hard labour. It soon became clear that Cash had no intention of serving out his sentence. He escaped three times in the next three years. On his third escape Cash met up with two other convicts and the trio began bushranging along the road between Hobart and Launceston. Because they rarely used violence they gained a reputation as 'gentlemen bushrangers' which saved Cash from the gallows when he was finally captured. It was this reputation for 'gentlemanly' conduct which allowed Cash to become a rarity among Australian bushrangers - he lived a full life and died of old age.
After his recapture Cash was sentenced to transportation for life and sent to Norfolk Island for ten years. In March 1854 he married another Irish convict, Mary Bennett, and later that year he was granted a ticket-of-leave and returned to Tasmania. For the next twenty years he lived quietly working as a farmer and as the overseer at Hobart's Botanic Gardens. He died at his property near Glenorchy on 27 August 1877.