Cruising the Rugged South East Tasmanian Coastline

He reminded me of Steve Irwin.

Quick with a joke and a smile, a passion for nature, and enthusiastic about the rugged beauty of South East Tasmania’s coastal wilderness.

Rob Pennicott is a Tasmanian celebrity. He has been running Tasman Island cruises along the coastline of Port Arthur since 1999.

It started as a small family business, and now because of their world-class service and sustainable coastal wilderness experiences, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys have a staff of over 70, have won numerous awards, and now run several island cruises in the area.

25% of the business profits are donated to conservation projects and in 2011 Rob circumnavigated Australia in a 5.4 metre dinghy raising over $290,000 for conservation and to assist Rotary in eradicating polio.

Not a bad tour guide.

I was fascinated by Rob, as much as I was the stunning scenery and the seals that waved to us from the sea.

seals waving

Rob’s yellow boats, the 4WD of the sea, allowed us to maneuver close to the cliff faces and go inside the sea caves. Rob ensures he’s always respecting the animals space and comfort levels.

“Okay, let’s get moving now, the seals have had enough.”

“No we won’t get any closer to the penguin, you can see he’s not that interested to talk to us today.”

Rob Pennicott tours Hobart Tasmania
We’ll race you back

We were promised lots of marine life sightings: Australian and New Zealand fur seals, bottle-nose dolphins, cormorants, diving gannets, and little penguins.

“For the past week, we’ve seen orcas every day. Just yesterday one breached right near us.”

I was excited. My eyes and camera were at the ready for the entire 3 hour trip.

We were cruising to Tasman Island, the turning point for the racing Sydney to Hobart yachts and home of the flying fox and haulage-way that carried supplies up to the lightkeeper’s houses.

It reminded me of my favourite children’s book, “The Lighthouse Keepers Lunch.”

It was isolated and eerie, a lonely place to sit and watch with only seals on the rocks below as friends.

Tasman Island

Tasman Island lighthouse (1)

seals (4)

The entire coastline is isolated and rugged and unspoilt.

We stopped to explore sea caves, wildlife, passing lobster fisherman, dolerite spires and sea stacks named the Candlestick and Totem Pole ( I mistakenly imagined it was something else–imagination please people),  and the highest sea cliffs in the Southern hemisphere at Cape Pillar.

Cape Pillar Tasmania
Cape Pillar- the highest sea cliffs in the Southern Hemisphere

But, no whales. And no dolphins either which Rob was shocked by. The dolphins are always the main attraction and never fail to show.

That was until we crossed over the open ocean to arrive back into Port Arthur. The swell was large and I held on as I stood next to Rob chatting. He skillfully moved us safely across the water while sharing his story with me of how he turned his passion into a lifestyle.

“There they are there.” someone shouted.

Dolphins were jumping and playing beside the boat. We all let out a cheer at our good fortune and followed them as they surfed the waves.

And of course as every traveller understands, the SNAFU comes into place, when you have an amazing opportunity for great camera footage. In all your excitement you didn’t notice that you turned the camera off instead of on.

Such is life.

I thoroughly enjoyed my Tasman Island cruise with Rob Pennecott. I would definitely add it as a worthwhile experience when you visit Tasmania.

Rob Pennecott Tasman Island Cruise in photos

Leaving Eagleneck Hawk

Eaglehawk neck Port Arthur (1)
Getting ready to board at Eaglehawk Neck
Port Arthur (3)
Eaglehawk Neck
Rob pennicott tours Tasmania
Such a beautiful day
Rob Pennicott tours Hobart Tasmania
Let’s drive this thing

Fortescue Bay

Tasmania coastline (2)
Rugged coastline
Tasmania coastline (1)
Pounding waves
Tasmanian coastline
Wild
Seaweed
Some of the world’s best seaweed
Tasman Island cruises (2)
Exploring sea caves
Rob Pennicott tours Hobart Tasmania
Local lobster fisherman
Catching lobster Tasmania
Today’s catch
Mummy Smiles
Nat from Mummy Smiles enjoying the ride
A Beach Cottage
Sarah from A Beach Cottage
Tasman Island cruises
Another of Rob’s boats come to say hi
A beach cottage (2)
Give us a smile!
Rob Pennicott tours around Tasman Island
Enjoying the scenery
Tasman Island cruises (3)
Gorgeous colours

Tasman Island cruise seal friends

       seals (6)

seals (7)

seals (8)

seals (9)

seals (11)

seals (3)

seals (5)

Arriving back to Port Arthur

Port Arthur
Returning home to Port Arthur
Port Arthur (2)
Beach near Port Arthur

Rob Pennecott Tours – The Facts

Disclaimer: I travelled to Tasmania as a guest of Tourism Australia on the T-Qual Tick Race. Read more posts on Tasmania here.

Caz
Caz Makepeace is the co-founder of y Travel Blog and has been traveling the world since 1997, first solo, then with her husband, and now with her two daughters. Get her free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow her on Google+

19 Comments on “Cruising the Rugged South East Tasmanian Coastline”

  1. I did the Bruny Island boat tour a few weeks ago, it was excellent!

    We got stuck in a storm that wasn’t on any radar, so the experience turned into more of a jetboating trip than a scenery trip. Everyone on the boat was laughing like kids.

    To apologize for the sudden change of trip, we were all given a free pumpkin soup and 10 dollars worth of merchandise from the store (I chose wool socks!). The crew also offered to dry any clothes that got wet in the storm.

    Now I want to do the Port Arthur tour next time I’m there…
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    • Great story Beatrice!! As long as it is a story to tell in the end. I’m considering doing the Bruny Island tour later this year when we go to Tassie

      Reply
  2. These photographs are absolutely amazing. I love boat tours, especially when the local wildlife is cooperating! Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Reply
  3. Oh my gosh what incredible scenery and wildlife! I’d be happy enough just to enjoy the sea caves but to see all that incredible wildlife too!? Amazing. And great to hear that you had such a great guide; they really can make or break the trip.

    Reply
    • Yes. Rob was the best. And just imagine that you often see whales on this tour too!

      Reply
  4. Photos like that just make me want to explore home more and more. I often forget just how diverse Australia. Great post Caz, have to make tassie a stop off for me next time I’m home.
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    • You will love it Chris. One of my favourite Australian states. Australia blows my mind.

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  5. Gorgeous photos and what an amazing abundance of wildlife! Love the seals
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  6. I’d love the wildlife experience, the brilliant view of the scenery and the cliff. This is an awesome tour. Exploring this place is magnificent.
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  7. Amazing shots CAZ ! The sea animals are so cute and lovely. Sceneries are really beautiful.

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  8. Hi Great to see my home state through the eyes of another.Stunning photos. Glad you enjoyed your time here..Makes me appreciate where I live even more..Thankyou

    Reply
  9. I had no idea Tasmania had a coastline like that – just spectacular. It’s always a bit of a let down when the wild animals don’t show. Today I was hoping for woodland caribou or a moose on a hike – and no luck either.
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  10. Breathtaking! I’m so relaxed just by looking those photos, specially the sea animals and sea caves. Mouthwatering with those lobsters you have in one of the photos. Awww.. and those cute Seal, i just love it! If I am going to visit Tasman Island, I will really try Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. And I will make sure not to miss out Port Arthur tour as well. Thanks for sharing this. One great helpful post you got!
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  11. Wow nice. Nice article.

    Awesome pictures of tasman island.

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  12. […] the yellow boats, the signature boats for Rob Pennicott’s Wilderness Journeys. I had done the Tasman Island cruise earlier in the year, and was keen to check this one out, this time with my […]

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