George Town in Tasmania is Australia’s 3rd-oldest city behind only Hobart and Sydney. But it is difficult to focus on the history of this vibrant north coast town as you drive in through beautiful orchards, lavender fields, berry farms and vineyards. Once you get over the stunning inbound drive, head over to the Old Watch Museum. This retired lock-up is now a history museum for George Town and the area. You’ll be impressed by the depth of the area’s maritime history.
When you’re done touring the museum, pick up a self-guided George Town Heritage Trail brochure. The pamphlet will walk you through town past some of Australia’s most historic sites. But save some energy for hiring a bicycle. The 4-kilometer ride to nearby Low Head Pilot Station takes you down a scenic coastline to an 1805-built pilot building. The building, still in use today, was erected by free convict labour at the dawn of European history in Tasmania.
The Tamar River pouring into the Bass Strait at the edge of town gives visitors unlimited potential for water sport. George Town is a popular beachside destination for swimmers and surfers. Long sandy beaches and the cool waters of the strait are perfect for a summertime cool-off.
Fisherman flock to George Town to charter boats into the deeper waters of the strait where some of the planet’s healthiest fish live. And boating enthusiasts love George Town’s Bass and Flinders Centre where they can oggle at a nice collection of historical boats. You can even board a replica of the 1798 sloop Norfolk.
Being Australia’s third-oldest town, George Town has its share of historical buildings including the 1805-built pilot building and the 1843-built town gaol. The gaol has been refurbished and it reopened in 2004. It now features a history museum as well as a gallery. And art lovers descend on the town to attend the annual Lighthouse Regional Arts Festival.
George Town has it’s own little penguin colony at Low Head Beach. You can sit on the beach at dusk to watch these little guys fight the tiny surf to get back to their beach homes. The little creatures come back to land on in formations called rafts and they call out to each other before retiring for the night in their sandy holes.
With its rich maritime history as well as its seaside and riverside location, George Town is attractive for those who love the sea. The town is full of adventure tour outfitters excited to arrange a fishing expedition for you. You’ll also find a collection of historic boats at the Bass and Flinders Centre. And you can tour one of the oldest pilot houses in Australia built at the mouth of the Tamar River. It’s still in operation today.