Port Arthur

infoPort Arthur Info

The Hospital at Port ArthurPort Arthur is located on the southern end of the Tasman Peninsula roughly 95 kilometres south east of Hobart. Driving to Port Arthur from Hobart takes roughly 90 minutes. Port Arthur holds great historical significance within the history of Tasmania. In 1830 Port Arthur started out as a prison base for convicts in Tasmania. The 100m wide entrance to the Tasman Peninsula, at Eaglehawk Neck, was guarded by dogs and over time rumours spread that the seas were infested by sharks; though this did not stop everyone from attempting to escape Port Arthur's rather harsh approach to reform.

Port Arthur prison operated until 1877. The regime of the prison was harsh both physically and mentally. Mass graves, for those inmates that died in prison, exist on the 'Isle of the Dead'. More recently, in April 1996, tragedy struck Port Arthur when 35 people were killed by a gunman right in the heart of this picturesque historical site.

Port Arthur is one of Australia's most significant heritage areas with the open air museum officially Tasmania's top tourist attraction. During the day the architectural splendour takes centre stage, but during the evening and the cover of darkness the ever popular Ghost Tours take place.

The Asylum at Port ArthurYour expert ghost tour guide will take you on a spooky ghost tour of the most haunted areas of the historic site and share with you some Port Arthur history and wonderful tales whilst exploring the perfect backdrop for that all anticipated potential ghost sighting!!

The Asylum (1868) offers an interesting museum area, together with a convict study centre and nice coffee shop. The Penitentiary (1857) is perhaps the most photographed of all buildings, possibly due to its size.

Starting life as a flour mill and granary rather than a place of incarceration it was converted into the four storey Penitentiary that is now famous partly because of the growing convict number and the fact that it failed in its original task of providing sufficient flour for the settlement.

The worst of the prisoners being 'prisoners of bad character' were located on the two lower floors containing 136 cells. The top floor had sufficient space for up to 480 convicts to sleep in bunks, but was reserved for those more behaved.

The Penitentiary at Port ArthurNearby there was originally an area containing workshops where many worked and learned a skill or trade such as shoemaking, nail production and timber milling. Others would work on brick production, shipbuilding, and the worst convicts were often used for coal mining.

The Isle of the Dead, an island dominated by the cemetery being the final resting place for more than a 1000 convicts, military, even women and children who died at Port Arthur between 1833 and 1877. A cruise can take you close to the island with an actual tour of the island being possible.

In addition, the Point Puer Boys Prison Tour is popular. Between 1834 and 1849, three thousand boys from the age of nine years were sent to Point Puer for their crimes. Point Puer was the first reformatory built by the British Empire exclusively for young male convicts.

Port Arthur Accommodation

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