Port Arthur, Tasmania 6th February 2014

Port Arthur Penitentiary
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Day 10 of our cruise and we’ve arrived at the historic heritage site of Port Arthur. Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula, in Tasmania, Australia. Port Arthur is officially Tasmania’s top tourist 
attraction. It is located approximately 60
 kilometers south east of the state capital, Hobart. 

The site forms part of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage property consisting of eleven remnant penal sites originally built within the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries on fertile Australian coastal strips. Collectively, these sites, including Port Arthur, now represent, “…the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.”

From 1833, until 1853, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British criminals, those who were secondary offenders having re-offended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent here, a quite undesirable punishment. In addition Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.

The peninsula on which Port Arthur is located is a naturally secure site by being surrounded by water (rumoured by the administration to be shark-infested). The Island of the Dead was the destination for all who died inside the prison camps. Of the 1646 graves recorded to exist there, only 180, those of prison staff and military personnel are marked. The prison closed in 1877.

On 28 April 1996, the Port Arthur historic site was the location of a killing spree. The subsequently convicted perpetrator murdered 35 people and wounded 23 more before being captured by the Special Operations Group of the Tasmania Police. The killing spree led to a national ban on semi-automatic shotguns and rifles. The perpetrator, Martin Bryant, is currently serving 35 life sentences plus 1,035 years without parole in the psychiatric wing of Risdon Prison in Hobart, Tasmania.

However, despite this rather tragic history, it has a very tranquil atmosphere and is a beautiful place to visit.

Port Arthur Penitentiary
Port Arthur – the Penitentiary
Seclusion cell
Seclusion Cell
Prisoner garb (the one on the left!)
Prisoner garb (the one on the left!)
Lynda pondering the Penitentiary
Lynda pondering the Penitentiary
Port Arthur, The Astor
Port Arthur Bay and The Astor

 

 

 

 

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About Post Author

Stephen Dale

I’m a life-long learner with an insatiable curiosity about life. I love travel, good food, and good company. I’m happy to share what I know with others….even the interesting stuff! My outlook on life is pretty well captured in this quote from a book about the legend of King Arthur: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King So much to learn, so little time!
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Previous post Hobart, Tasmania: 5th February 2014
Flinders St Railway Station (loved the Victorian architecture) Next post Melbourne, 8th February 2014

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