Port Arthur Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by The_Downunder_Mob
  • The Governor's residence - Port Arthur
    The Governor's residence - Port Arthur
    by al2401
  • All that is left of the Broad Arrow Cafe
    All that is left of the Broad Arrow Cafe
    by balhannah

Most Recent Things to Do in Port Arthur

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    The Isle of the Dead - Port Arthur

    by The_Downunder_Mob Written Jul 28, 2011
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    The Isle of the Dead, originally called Opossum Island, was chosen for the graveyard of Port Arthur by the Rev. John Manton in 1833. Of the 100 people buried there most were convicts. Convicts were forbidden headstones and were buried in the lower southeast part of the island. Officials, soldiers and their families were given the dignity of a headstone and were buried in the higher area. Obviously there were far more than 1000 convicts imprisoned in Port Arthur during its 40+ years of operation so only the lucky few got to be buried with 'the nobs'.

    The headstone edict relaxed as time went on with a convict gravestone appearing about 1854. A convict was even allowed to buried on the higher ground as we can see by a headstone dated 1858.

    On the 19th July, 1916, the Island was proclaimed a reserve under the Scenery Preservation Act but it wasn't until 1971 that it was cleared of undergrowth and maintenance of the grounds, headstones and graves was undertaken.

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    Port Arthur penal settlement

    by The_Downunder_Mob Written Jul 28, 2011
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    The Port Arthur penal settlement started in 1830 as timber camp but soon became important in the penal system. In the first years the bush was cleared and ship building, smithing, brick making and other trades were established. In the 1840's, with a convict population of over 1100 a huge flour mill was built. This later became the penitentiary. A hospital was built as well as the notorious Separate Prison. This saw the introduction of the new philosophy of mental subjugation.

    In 1853 the transportation of prisoners from Britain stopped so fewer transported convicts arrived at Port Arthur but, as it was a notable centre for punishment, it still received a large number of men sentenced from within the colony.

    The 1850s and 1860s saw huge growth in an effort to make the station economically sustainable. Large areas of land were cleared to feed the timber industry. In 1857 the old flour mill and granary became the penitentiary. In 1864 the last great project at the site, the Asylum, was also begun. However, this growth was shortlived. Convict numbers fell and those remaining were either too old or insane. The last convict left Port Arthur in 1877.

    The next chapter sees Port Arthur becoming a residential area! Its name was changed in 1880 to Carnarvon, land was cut into lots and sold, and people started living on site or in the surrounding area. Many of the old buildings were destroyed by fire but the community perservered establishing a post office and cricket and lawn tennis clubs.

    The first tourists also came to see the 'horrors' of the penal settment. In fact, during the 1920's and 30's Port Arthur had three hotels and two museums plus the accompaning guides and infrastructure. In fact the area never looked back which prompted the reinstatement of the name Port Arthur in 1927.

    With all that experience the place is definitely set out for tourists. To see the site properly you need at least one full day if not 2. A day pass, which is valid for 2 consecutive days covers all buildings on the site, a 40 minute guided tour, a boat trip on the harbour and a interactive self-walk tour. A tour guide is produced in English, French, German, Mandarin and Japanese. Trips to the Isle of the Dead and the Ghost Tour are extra.

    Both are worth doing. See my tip on Isle of the Dead. The Ghost Tour is a lot of fun - just don't have a member who takes flash photos right in the middle of the best ghost story!!!

    I arrived early for my ghost tour, had a look around the site, ate at the more than adequate restaurant and enjoyed the tour. The next day I did the whole day including the Isle of the Dead and feel I have had great value.

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    Pirates Bay Blowhole

    by AusPinay Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    the blowhole
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    An area of dramatic geological landscapes, this area is another gem which can only be found in Tasmania. We've seen other blowholes, this one may not be that great but nevertheless the significance of the formations and the diverse resources around it are memorable.

    As described in the PArks and Wildlife of Tasmania website, "The variety of rock types, landscapes, soils and land and soil forming processes are dominating influences on biodiversity, while many of the plants and animals found in Tasmania today are a legacy of the process of continental drift and the breakup of Gondwana."

    The blowhole at Pirates Bay is a unique example of Tassie's natural charm.

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    Isle of the Dead

    by ATXtraveler Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Within the Port Arthur Historic Site is a small island, known as the Isle of the Dead. This place is also known to some as Opossum Island, but was renamed when the island was converted into a burial ground for the convicts that passed away in Port Arthur. This little island is home to the final resting place of over 1000 people.

    It is an interesting cruise that is worth the trip, as the tour guide gives you alot of history of not only the island, but the whole facility while travelling on the boat out to the island.

    What was most interesting to me is the way the convicts were buried in unmarked graves by the water, while the free people who worked and lived in this area were also buried here with tombstones at the top of the island.

    This tour is quite a bit more expensive than the shorter harbour cruise which takes you around the island and is informative but does not drop you off at the island.

    The harbour cruise is included in the price of your Port Arthur admission (currently $28AUD) where the tour is $66AUD.

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    Isle of the Dead

    by al2401 Written Apr 2, 2011

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    The Isle of the Dead, originally called Opossum Island, was chosen for the graveyard of Port Arthur by the Rev. John Manton in 1833. Of the 100 people buried there most were convicts. Convicts were forbidden headstones and were buried in the lower southeast part of the island. Officials, soldiers and their families were given the dignity of a headstone and were buried in the higher area. Obviously there were far more than 1000 convicts imprisoned in Port Arthur during its 40+ years of operation so only the lucky few got to be buried with 'the nobs'.

    The headstone edict relaxed as time went on with a convict gravestone appearing about 1854. A convict was even allowed to buried on the higher ground as we can see by a headstone dated 1858.

    On the 19th July, 1916, the Island was proclaimed a reserve under the Scenery Preservation Act but it wasn't until 1971 that it was cleared of undergrowth and maintenance of the grounds, headstones and graves was undertaken.

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    Port Arthur Penal Settlement

    by al2401 Written Apr 2, 2011
    Main prison building - Port Arthur
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    The Port Arthur penal settlement started in 1830 as timber camp but soon became important in the penal system. In the first years the bush was cleared and ship building, smithing, brick making and other trades were established. In the 1840's, with a convict population of over 1100 a huge flour mill was built. This later became the penitentiary. A hospital was built as well as the notorious Separate Prison. This saw the introduction of the new philosophy of mental subjugation.

    In 1853 the transportation of prisoners from Britain stopped so fewer transported convicts arrived at Port Arthur but, as it was a notable centre for punishment, it still received a large number of men sentenced from within the colony.

    The 1850s and 1860s saw huge growth in an effort to make the station economically sustainable. Large areas of land were cleared to feed the timber industry. In 1857 the old flour mill and granary became the penitentiary. In 1864 the last great project at the site, the Asylum, was also begun. However, this growth was shortlived. Convict numbers fell and those remaining were either too old or insane. The last convict left Port Arthur in 1877.

    The next chapter sees Port Arthur becoming a residential area! Its name was changed in 1880 to Carnarvon, land was cut into lots and sold, and people started living on site or in the surrounding area. Many of the old buildings were destroyed by fire but the community perservered establishing a post office and cricket and lawn tennis clubs.

    The first tourists also came to see the 'horrors' of the penal settment. In fact, during the 1920's and 30's Port Arthur had three hotels and two museums plus the accompaning guides and infrastructure. In fact the area never looked back which prompted the reinstatement of the name Port Arthur in 1927.

    With all that experience the place is definitely set out for tourists. To see the site properly you need at least one full day if not 2. A day pass, which is valid for 2 consecutive days covers all buildings on the site, a 40 minute guided tour, a boat trip on the harbour and a interactive self-walk tour. A tour guide is produced in English, French, German, Mandarin and Japanese. Trips to the Isle of the Dead and the Ghost Tour are extra.

    Both are worth doing. See my tip on Isle of the Dead. The Ghost Tour is a lot of fun - just don't have a member who takes flash photos right in the middle of the best ghost story!!!

    I arrived early for my ghost tour, had a look around the site, ate at the more than adequate restaurant and enjoyed the tour. The next day I did the whole day including the Isle of the Dead and feel I have had great value.

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    LOTTERY OF LIFE

    by balhannah Written Jan 8, 2010

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    My Convict - the 10 of Hearts

    The Lottery of Life is an Interpretation Gallery at the visitor's centre.
    On paying your entrance fee, you are given a playing card, mine happened to be the ten of hearts.

    In the gallery, you wander around the excellent displays until you find a cut out of "your convict" with your playing card attached to him! On the convict are the details of why he was at Port Arthur, what he had done, his age, and if if survived or not! It was quite good, the things that these poor men were punished for was incredible!!!

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    HOSPITAL & ASYLUM AT PORT ARTHUR

    by balhannah Written Jan 8, 2010

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    Hospital

    More 'modern' than the Hospital, the Asylum was capable of housing 100 mentally ill patients at a time.
    Built to a cruciform shape, the wings were occupied by dormitories around a central mess hall. The building was flanked by two 'L' shaped buildings comprising a Keepers' quarters and a bakehouse, and towards the rear was a long wooden building which served as separate apartments for the asylum's more rowdy occupants.
    Patients, many suffering from depression or mental disability, were provided with a 'soothing' atmosphere, where they were allowed exercise and mild amusement!

    The Hospital built in 1841-42 was the third constructed at Port Arthur. It was made up of wards, kitchen, baking room, laundry and morgue. The hospital was staffed by a doctor and a number of untrained convict orderlies and was kept quite busy with accident cases!

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    THE 'CHURCH'

    by balhannah Updated Jan 8, 2010

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    I think this is one of the most beautiful buildings at Port Arthur, it probably is one of the most photographed!

    Built in 1836/37 by convict builders in a gothic style, it is set on a hill overlooking the convict settlement. Quite large, it was never consecrated due to its usage by a number of different denominations.
    Attendance of the weekly Sunday service was compulsory for the prison population

    Standing throughout the convict period, the church was destroyed in an 1884 fire and has since been restored.
    I have seen it before and after restoration!

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    HARBOUR CRUISE - PORT ARTHUR

    by balhannah Updated Jan 8, 2010

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    The 20 minute harbour cruise aboard a catamaran is included in the admission price, and should not be missed!

    We enjoyed this informative cruise, as it was on here that we learnt about the boys prison of Point Puer.............
    The juvenile convicts, were as young as nine, arrested for stealing toys and sent out to Australia. The boys were separated from the main convict population and kept on Point Puer, the British Empire's first boys' prison.
    Like the adults, the boys were used in hard labour such as stone cutting and construction, what a hard life they had.......
    and .......

    The Isle of the Dead.
    Here, hundreds of convicts and ex-convict paupers were interred in mass graves, while the resting places of the 180 "free settlers" who died at Port Arthur are located on the upper part of the Island. Their elaborate headstones were done by convict stonemasons.

    The cruise gave us stunning views of the complete site, passing the Dockyard area where boats were built and repaired.

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    The PENITENTIARY AT PORT ARTHUR

    by balhannah Updated Jan 8, 2010

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    The Penetentiary

    This is probably the biggest and most imposing ruin on the site.

    The Penitentiary (1843) was originally used as a flour mill and granary.

    It wasn't until 1857, that it was converted into a penitentiary capable of housing over 480 convicts in both dormitory-style accommodation and separate apartments.
    It also contained a messroom, library and Catholic chapel, and was flanked by the Watchmens' Quarters, as well as a range of workshops and an ablutions complex.

    It also was gutted by fires in 1897, and since 1960, restoration has taken place.

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    Cottages & Gardens at Port Arthur

    by balhannah Updated Jan 8, 2010

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    Port Arthur cottage & gardens

    Port Arthur not only has historic buildings, but it has Cottage gardens, and lovely maintained grounds with magnificent Oak Trees, Elms and Conifers.
    The paths are the original ones that were walked upon by the ladies and officers who resided at Port Arthur, out of view of the convicts behind the fences and garden beds of the Government Gardens.

    The historic site today mirrors this past. Large swathes of well-tended lawn are interspersed with the ornamental beauty of the reconstructed Government and Commandant's Gardens, and you can see the tidy vegetable plots of an early 20th century residence.

    We visited the well-established early 20th century flower and vegetable gardens and orchard at Trentham Cottage, and the gardens of the Commandant's Residence and Government Gardens.

    A selection of seeds collected from 19th century plant varieties grown at the Site are for sale at the Gift Shop from November to January.

    Access to the gardens is included in the cost of site entry.

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    BROAD ARROW CAFE MURDER'S

    by balhannah Updated Jan 8, 2010

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    Memorial Cross at Port Arthur
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    In the Port Arthur massacre of 28 April 1996, 35 people had their lives taken from them by Martin Bryant, a 28-year-old from New Town, a suburb of Hobart.

    The Cafe, is where 12 people were killed and 10 were wounded.
    It has been left standing as a grim reminder of that day.....

    The day that shocked the whole of Australia!

    Bryant had a meal on the verandah, then came inside the very busy Cafe. The events happened extremely quickly. It was with regret, that a lot of people did not realize that it was a real gun that was being used. After some people had been killed or wounded it was
    only then that the majority of the people in the cafe began to realise what was happening and that the shots were not some sort of noise from a re-enactment at the historical site.

    At this point there was great confusion, with many people not knowing what to do, as Bryant was near the main exit, preventing others from attempting to run past him and escape.

    All of these events, from the first bullet that killed Ng, (from Malaysia) took approximately 15 seconds, during which 12 people were dead and 10 more were wounded.

    There is a memorial cross with all the names of the deceased......
    a very sad spot at Port Arthur.

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    VISIT PORT ARTHUR

    by balhannah Written Jan 7, 2010

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    Part of Port Arthur

    This is a MUST DO if you are in Hobart and have time.

    First of all, to get here............It is a nice drive of approx 1.5hours from Hobart along the Tasman and Arthur Highways that form part of the Convict Trail Touring Route. Sea views, pretty farmlands and little villages, vineyards and a little town named "Doo Town" where it is interesting reading the creative titles of the neighbourhood homes.

    No car.......No problem!......
    A regular bus service operated by Tassie Link connects Hobart with Port Arthur. For details, phone 1300 300 520.

    Port Arthur Historic Site is open every day from 8.30am until dusk, with the Visitor Centre open from 8.30am until the close of Historic Ghost tours at night. Restored buildings are open at various times between 9am & 5pm.

    There are various passes available, so here are the prices for some (2010 prices)

    The BRONZE PASS, which is the one we bought as we only had a day to spend here. This was our 2nd visit to Port Arthur. The pass gave access to more than thirty historic buildings, ruins and gardens, an Introduction to Port Arthur walking tour, Harbour cruise

    $28 adult in 2010

    The SILVER PASS Has as an extra EITHER Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour OR Point Puer Boys' Prison Tour, Audio Tour and Lunch.

    $66 adult in 2010

    There is a gold pass which includes more and costs $98 plus..............

    An AFTER DARK EXPERIENCE!
    Which includes a Two-course meal at Felons Bistro and a Historic Ghost Tour...costs $57adult.

    After dark & Ghost tours both start at 8.45pm & 9.30pm nightly.

    You can ring and book on the number below.....
    1800 659 101 (a free call from within Australia), +61 3 6251 2313

    You need to allow quite a bit of time, probably a day at least, perhaps if doing the night tours, it might be best to stay nearby.

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    TESSELLATED PAVEMENT, NATURAL WONDER

    by AusPinay Updated Dec 20, 2009

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    the tessellated pavements, a natural wonder
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    Another fascinating geologic formation is the creation of seemingly perfect tiles or pavements on the ground caused by sea erosions and other formations thousands of years ago. They are intertidal rock platforms whixch seem to create almost perfect squares like tiles or pavements hence the name.

    They can be best viewed on foot starting from the entrance to Eagle Hawk Neck Lookout. We took the excursion riding an airconditioned coach which proved to be a wide decision as the weather can change dramatically here being in the coastline of Tasman Peninsula. One minute it was windy and cold, then it would become sunny and a bit hot. So layering is suiggested as mode of dressing. Comfy shoes are a must of course!

    The natural wonder that was formed are just near the shore of the beach below Eagle Hawk Neck so you need to be fit to negotiate the walk to the bottom, around 10 minutes walk but steep and winding paths.

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