Tasmania has a rich natural karst (cave) systems, including some of the deepest and best decorated caves in the southern hemisphere, and is the Australian stronghold of Jurassic dolerite, which forms the distinctive mountains and towering sea-cliffs of eastern Tasmania. (source-http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=7766)
Tasman arch itself is amazingly beautiful and is really what was left of a roof of a large sea cave or tunnel formed many thousands of years ago by wave action.
Walking to see the arch is best done during daylight of course and make sure you wear comfy shoes and prepare for changing weather.
This is a humble place that gives a good look on the spectacular sceneries dotting the long coastline around the Tasman Peninsula.
An area of immense beauty, immerse yourself in the tranquil oases that will invigorate your senses! I can only describe so much in words so I urge you to go and see for yourself the enormous wealth of this unique area that is part of Tasmania! Awesome is an understatement!
Tasman National Park protects forest and spectacular coastline from Cape Surville to Waterfall Bay and Fortescue Bay; and from Cape Hauy to Cape Pillar and Cape Raoul. The park incorporates several off-shore islands, including Fossil Island, Hippolyte Rocks and Tasman Island.
The area can be further explored by hiking/walking or through water vehicles, kayak,also cycling, etc.
Part of Tasmania' most dramatic coastline, Devil's Kitchen can be found at Eaglehawk Neck around half an hour's drive from Port Arthur.
Devil's Kitchen is a collapsed arch, part of geological rock formations that dot the area around Eagle Hawk Neck.
The rock formations can be viewed only by walking/hiking a good 15 minutes from the entrance to Eagle HAwk NEck and may be a bit tricky so those who are not so mobile may find it a difficult walk. The views around- the bushlands, the native trees and other fauna around the area are equally fascinating.
CAGES FOR LIONS
When the convicts first arrived in September 1830 they were housed in a hastilybuilt Priseners Barracks of weatherboard huts, forned around a central yard with a flogging yard nearby. More extensive buildings replaced these huts in 1834-35. These were arranged around 2 courtyards. In the first yard were the schoolroom and the overseers accommodation.
The main courtyard contained 16 huts each housing 16-30 priseners. These barracks continued in use until the former flourmill and granary was converted into the Penitentairy. This mill had been completed in 1845 to try to supply all the settlement's flour. It was powered
by both a waterweel, and a convict-driven treadmill. The complex never operated as hoped and by 1848 was 'a large useless store".
The new Penitentiary (1857) had 136 separate cells on the bottom two floors for those whom one Commandant called "the Lions', 'prisoners of bad character under heavy sentence'.
The harsh regime relaxed in the early 1860s. It was gutted by fires in 1897.
You can make a walking trail that takes you 'behind the scenes' of an extraordinary convict-built engineering project. It leaves from behind the Hospital, on the hill above the Pententiary.
ALWAYS ON GUARD
The military area is nexts the administration area. It also sits on high ground, so that the soldiers were able to defend themselves and look out for trouble. Security was their main responsibility. Most regiments posted here regarded it as a low point in their history.
The barracks (1831-1847) were extended several times. The Tower Cottage (1854) provided additional officier housing. The Guard Tower (1842) contained a storeroom for guns and ammunition, a guard room and a watch tower.
After the settlement closed, most of the military complex was demolished.
The 1897 bushfires destroyed much of what remained.
THE CONTROL ROOM OF THE MACHINE.
The Commandant's House (built in stages 1833-56) and the Senior Military Officer's House (1833) are set high on the hill, with the best view and aspect. Here the senior administrators lived and directed the operation of Port Arthur. The Commandant was responsible for all areas of the settlement except the garrison. The Senior Militairy Officer's role was to mantain discipline among the troops and ensure the security of the settlement.
At the Law Courts (1846) the convicts were introduced to the regime of "ceaseless vigilance', disipline and punishment was to transform them from rogues into honest men.
The Commandant's House was a hotel until 1939.
The Senior Militairy Officer's House was destroyed in bushfires in 1897.
The Law Courts damaged by fire in 1897, was rebuilt as a hotel but another fie reduced it to a ruin in 1921.
The Visitor Guide gives a good tip: 'Go to the top of the hill behind the Commandant's House and try to imagine what he might have seen from there.
'a secure and undisturbed resting place'
By the Reverence Manton, 1833
About 1100 people were buried here. Even in death, strict social order was mantanined. The lower half of the island was reserved for convicts, invalids and paupers. The high ground was reserved for civil and military burials.
In later years a convict gravedigger lived on the island. John Barron grew flowers but said that "he could not eat vegetables grown from that soil".
Make a walking tour on the island and hear tales of tragic loss and loyal affection from the expert guide at Port Arthur's picturesque burial ground.
THE LOST AND THE SAVED
"little depraved felons"
By Governor Arthur 1833
Point Puer was the first boys' prison built in the British Empire, intended to save these boys from the evil influence of older men and teach them some skills to equip them from a law-abiding future. It got off to a bad start.
The first 68 boys arrived dead drunk; they had consumed six dozen stolen bottles of wine on the journey down.
Point Puer operated between 1834-49. Most of the boys, street kids from British slums, were adged 14-17. Unskilled and physically weak.
Discipline was harsh and punishment was relentless. A heavily supervised gaol area lay to the end of the site. A boy who lost a knife and fork spent 20 days her on bread and water.
The station was closed in 1849. Point Puer's influence can be seen in juvenile detension centres of today.
Make a walking tour and your guide will reveal the fate of Point Puer's young convicts.
One of my favorite parts of this trip to Port Arthur was toward the end of the day, when we stopped in at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park. This beautiful little area outside of Port Arthur is worthy of more time than we gave to it.
We stopped in at about 4pm, and I believe the park closes at 5:30pm, so the lady at the counter offered us a 2 for the price of 1 special. Since there were four of us, this was perfect and we enjoyed the last feeding of the day for these little devils. There were also other native Australian animals here, but when you are in this park, you are really here to see the devil!
I was amazed at how easily the devil can chew through a kangaroo tail, bone and all!
Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park - open daily (except 25 Dec) from 9am to 5pm, later in summer.
Devils in the Dark - Nightly from dusk* - times vary.
(* Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat - Easter to September.) Call 1800 641 641 for bookings and daily details.
Vineyard Cafe - Daily from 9 am.
Port Arthur National Historic Site is the former location of the Port Arthur Prison. There are many layers of history to this site, all of which were beautifully presented by our tour guide. The history of Port Arthur as a prison really started in the 1780s with the independence of the United States. Prior to this time, England had been sending prisoners to America to ease the over crowding of the small island. For prisoners, Port Arthur was created to be a "hell on Earth", and considering the isolation and distance from England, this was pretty well accomplished. Geographically, this prison was as isolated as could be from not only Australia, but the rest of the world.
As the rest of Australia prospered as a penal colony, other establishments held first time offenders, and Port Arthur became infamous for its worst of the worst criminal offenders. As the years passed on, the prison moved from simply being a convict's hell to an insane asylum where convicted criminals who were truly insane were sent. Within the establishment, there is a "prison within a prison" for the criminally insane here.
Without sharing all the detail of this facility, I can just say that I would highly recommend this site if you are looking at visiting Tasmania, as any visit to Tassie without seeing Port Arthur would not be nearly as significant.
Port Arthur Historic Site is open every day. The grounds and ruins are open from 8.30am until dusk.
The Visitor Centre is open from 8.30am until the close of Historic Ghost tours at night.
Tours operate and restored buildings are open at various times between 9am & 5pm.
At the Port Arthur Historic Site you will find the old buildings from a jail. Which are really impressive!! The jail was build in the 1830s.
In 1996 a young man from Hobart woke up one day and decided to take a gun and shoot people on his way. He also went to Port Arthur Historic Site. Up here he killed about 20 people. On the site of Port Arthur you will find a memoral for the people who got killed. Be aware (when you are visiting Port Arthur) that the people up there don't like to talk about this shooting. Please give the people of Port Arthur their respect.
Email for bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org
When you are in Port Arthur, you should do a Ghost Tour. You will go through a part of the Historic Site. The guide will tell you a story about the Ghosts. The tour will last about 1,5 hours. Several tours are there every evening.
If you want to do a Ghost Tour, it is essential that you book in advance as it is popular to do such tours.
Besides the prison in Port Arthur, there is also some beautifully sculpted coast line to view including this remarkable cave cut from the rocks by the poindidng surf. Once you get to the car park it is a short 5 min walk down some wooden steps to see the cave. Make sure and go at high tide as the surf will be flowing underneath the viewing stand. Well worth a look.
I have been to the site twice now and thoroughly enjoyed it... and I still haven't explored everything! The penal settlement began as a timber station 1830 and was the site of many industries over the years convicts lived there until 1877. In the early 1900's it was already becoming quite a tourist attraction and that has been the pull to the region ever since.
The current site has a visitor centre that opens at 8:30am and stays open until the close of the ghost tours every night, but most of the buildings on the site close at 5pm, so I recommend getting there early!
The main entry fee is valid for 2 days and includes:
Introductory Guided Walking Tour, Harbour Cruise, Interpretation Gallery & Access to more than 30 buildings, ruins and restored houses on the Site
Adult - $ 25.00
Child (4-17) - $ 11.00
Family - $ 55.00 (2 adults & up to 6 children)
Concession - $ 20.00
The interpretation gallery in the bottom floor of the visitor centre is fun and interactive and takes awhile to explore before you even get out in to the site! They schedule you times for the 30 min cruise that takes you around the Isle of the Dead and the island that was the site of the boys prison, but doesn't stop at either island. There are optional tours that do. They also schedule your time for the guided walk that is interesting info - you don't go inside buildings during this tour, but can explore those at your own pace. There are ruins of the church, the solitary prison, the military barracks, the actual prison, the hospital, and various other buildings. There are also fairly in tact buildings such as the commandant's house that is still furnished like it was at the time.
There are cafes at the visitor centre and also the museum where the asylum used to be. I really enjoyed the experience because of all the history and just the beauty of the location. Just be sure to plan at least 6 hours there. We have only made it about lunchtime and I didn't get to see everything!
Before or after your visit to Port Arthur Historic Site, it is worth it to stop at Remarkable Cave. It is only about 6kms beyond the historic site. There is a short walk down a trail with lots of steps to a little platform where you can watch and listen to the waves come in through the cave. It was rather mesmerizing to stand and listen. Rest up before you head back up because there are a lot of steps going back up. But don't worry, you can stop a few spots along the way back up and look out at the beautiful coastline. :) I'm sure it will have you saying 'That was REMARKABLE!' :)