Historic George Town has plenty of maritime stories to tell, and plenty of penguins to accompany them.
Located at the mouth of kanamaluka / River Tamar, the town is Australia's third-oldest European settlement, founded in 1804, just behind Sydney and a year after Hobart.
For a hit of history, go to jail: the former lock-up is now the George Town Watch House, and includes a display on women convicts incarcerated here from 1824 to 1834.
For a deeper dive into the town’s fascinating maritime history, visit the Bass and Flinders Maritime Museum. The star attraction is a replica of the Norfolk, the 10m sloop in which George Bass and Matthew Flinders sailed around Tasmania in 1798-99 to survey the island. It’s been faithfully modelled on the original ship, which was stolen and run aground in NSW by escaped convicts in 1800.
Just north of George Town, Low Head is a narrow tongue of land that juts into Bass Strait. Low Head Pilot Station was built by convicts in 1805 to guide ships into kanamaluka / River Tamar. It’s the oldest group of pilot buildings in Australia and it still operates today. So does the Low Head Lighthouse, Tasmania’s second-oldest light station, at the very tip of the headland.
At sunset every night, the Low Head Coastal Reserve is mobbed by little penguins, the world’s smallest penguin species, waddling in from the sea. Tours are essential; book with Low Head Penguin Tours.
George Town is also Tasmania’s newest mountain bike destination with two world-class trail networks offering a diverse range of trails for all abilities.
George Town is a 40min drive (50km) north of Launceston.
- Cycle or walk the kanamaluka Trail, a 6km shared-use trail from George Town to Low Head Lighthouse.
- To soak up the area’s history, stay at the self-contained Low Head Pilot Station Cottages, built in 1825.