Heading south just out of Taranna you will need to make a quick decision at the junction of Nubeena Road and the Arthur Highway.
You can continue straight ahead on the Arthur Highway to Port Arthur, some ten minutes away, or turn right to take the longer but much more scenic route via Koonya, Premaydena, and Nubeena. To travel to Port Arthur via this route will take you about thirty minutes if you don’t stop – but you will stop – as there are so many reasons to do so. The scenic route is thoroughly recommended.
After few minute’s drive along Nubeena Road you will arrive at Koonya but don’t blink or you may miss it. Pause here as you pass through what is now a quiet farming village to see convict buildings on both sides of the road, including a cell block and officer’s quarters. Fresh apples can be brought from the side of the road – honour system – in season.
The convict site is now a fully restored and was a comfortable B&B, right on the edge of Norfolk Bay. (Recently closed). More details of its fascinating history as a convict settlement can be found HERE
Premaydena was also the site of a substantial convict station; however little remains of it today. The village’s main claim to fame nowadays is that it has the ‘Premaydena Old Trading General Store’ – the Tasman Peninsula’s version of a combined High Street Grocer/Delicatessen/Garden Nursery/Hardware Store/Petrol Station – all packed into a small but pretty shop. It’s definitely worth a wander through as there is not much you can’t buy here. A standout feature is the abundance of fresh and packaged local produce.
Once again you have a decision to make; stay on Nubeena Road and continue through to Nubeena and Port Arthur, or turn right to explore the Saltwater River area. Allow an hour or two at least if you do.
Should you elect to turn right, enjoy a fifteen minute drive along the breathtaking coastal Saltwater River Road, then turn right again into Coal Mines Road to the remains of the notorious Plunkett Point underground coal mine and convict station. This site is now managed by The Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority. but entry is free.
The pithead and the dreadful underground cells which housed the convicts can still be seen and explored – well worth the round trip. The remains of other convict era buildings silently emerge from the bush as you pass, and stand watch from the roadside.
The convict station was used as a punishment establishment for the worst offenders from Port Arthur from 1833 until 1848. The mine supplied coal to Hobart and Port Arthur from 1833 until 1901. More details of the terrible history of this place can be found HERE.
Shortly after resuming your journey along Saltwater River Rd, its name changes to Gwandalan Road and it takes you to another beautiful beach at Slopen Main. Well worth the drive and a stroll on the beach.
Then retrace your steps to Premaydena and on to Nubeena. Alternatively, if you want to stay for a while try The Convict Beach House