Remarkable Cave is a natural wonder located just to the south of Port Arthur. Located on the tip of the Tasman Pennisula, this cave has a viewing platform to watch the tides come in, and creates a really interesting natural phenomenon.
The water has eroded portions of the cliff, and is slowly smoothing out the rocks. It was truly remarkable to listen to the rocks getting slammed with the tide, and then the water slowly eroding back and moving these large rocks.
The cave is actually located right near the carpark, but there are about 110 steps down to the cave. It took roughly 15 minutes to walk down, enjoy the cave and make it back up!
The Hospital, which was the third building built in Port Arthur, was built in the early 1840s. It's located up the hill from the prisoners' barracks on Settlement Hill.
The hospital has wards (of course), as well as a kitchen, a baking room, a laundry, and a morgue. The building was frequently used since lots of the convicts worked in high-danger, heavy work such as timber cutting. Lots of accident victims were treated at the hospital (with varying amounts of success - see the tip for Isle of the Dead). The hospital was staffed by a doctor and a number of untrained convict orderlies.
Unfortunately, the hospital was burnt in the 1895 and 1897 fires. The ruins are still standing.
Isle of the Dead
For something a little different, take the tour out to the Isle of the Dead which is right off shore. You can see it from the colony, but being on it is pretty awe-inspiring and also gives you a different view of the buildings on the colony.
About 1,000 people were buried on the island in the mid-1800s. Many were convicts, but there were free people buried there, too. They are on the higher part of the island, and their headstones were often carved by convicts.
The tour takes about 30 minutes, and is well worth the time.
Do the Historical Walking Tour
If you can, take the Introductory Historical Walking Tour as soon as you can after you get to the site. Although there's plenty of reading materials about the buildings and the site in general, it's much better and more informative to do a face to face tour with an expert guide. There's no better way to learn about the Site and it's history.
This guided tour is included in the Site Entry Pass, so you already paid for it!! Might as well take the tour. Tours leave from the Visitor Centre throughout the day. Check there for times.
Take a ghost tour
Every night, guides offer a ghost tour of the colonie. It's really spectacular. Even if you are a non-believer in the supernatural stuff, it's a different way to see a bunch of the buildings. You go into several houses, the jails, and church -- which you can see during the day, of course, but it gives you a whole different feel in the dark. The story telling and the atmosphere of the Port Arthur Historic Site at night-time creates a fantastic experience.
The tour starts at the Visitors Centre and lasts about an hour and a half. They always run - they brag about the fact that they've never cancelled one. Therefore, wear good clothes, including a raincoat if necessary. They don't allow umbrellas because they say it's a safety hazard.
These tours are SO popular - they are almost always full - they do limit tours to 30 people. Make sure you book ahead either at the visitor centre or by calling 1 800 659 101. You usually don't need to book more than a day ahead (even book the morning of the tour), but if you want to be sure, call several days ahead!
In the winter months, there are tours at 6:30 and 8:30. The summer, the tours are at 8:45, 9:00, 9:15 and 9:30. Sometimes they'll have more if there is enough demand.
- Historical Travel
This was one of my favorite buildings on the site. It sits on the west side of the settlement on a hill overlooking the rest of the buildings. It was built to hold over 1000 people, and was a non-denominational church because of the varied religions of the prisoners. It was built in the mid 1830s by the convicts themselves.
- Historical Travel
This probably goes without saying . . .
Check out as many of the buildings as you can.
The jail cells are amazing. It gives you a feel for what they went through.
See the church. You can stand in the "pews" that the prisoners were put into - basically large shoulder-height boxes big enough for them to stand in. They were locked into them during services.
Every building is worth seeing. Take the time to see them all.