Thursday, December 15, 2011

Port Arthur....

Port Arthur is a World Heritage listed historic site. It is south-east of Hobart situated on the Tasman Peninsula.

This penal settlement is 'part of the epic story of the settlement of Australia'.

Port Arthur was established in 1830 and was the place where the 'worst' convicts from the Australian colonies were sent. It was remote, harsh and extremely difficult to escape from.

It is  a truly intriguing and fascinating place. It was one of those places where I wanted to read every sign and look in every nook and cranny. The kids however, had probably been all 'prisoned' out by the time we arrived here.

There are more than 30 historic buildings and ruins at Port Arthur. Alot of these buildings were built by convict labour.

Several of the main prison buildings have been badly damaged over the years by bushfires. So tragic!!

Such as....

The Main Penitentiary .....

This building started life as a failed flour mill as wheat didn't grow to well around these parts. 

Once converted, it housed about 600 convicts. The better behaved convicts slept on bunks in the upper floors and the others in cells on the lower floors.

The ruins of the Hospital...

Sadly, not a lot left of the hospital building...

Our tour guide told us a story about one poor convict who was held down and had his arm amputated with NO anaesthetic!! The operation took ten minutes and the arm was then 'cauterised' with a burning hot cooking pan!! Heavens knows how the poor fellow survived, but he did!

The Watchtower....

The ruins of the Church...

The church was built in 1837 by the convicts. It was never consecrated because it had to be used by different denominations. Sadly a fire caused destructive damage to this gorgeous structure in 1884.

A little bit more cartwheel and handstand practice perhaps not overly appropriate in the church.........

One of the most amazing buildings (which has been wonderfully restored) is the Seperate Prison.

This prison was used to implement a new method of prisoner reform. The prisoners were isolated in their own cells where they ate, slept and worked (all in silence). They were only allowed one hour of exercise per day.

This prison was used for the very worst of convicts. A lot of these convicts sadly (but not unexpectedly given the conditions) went 'insane'.

Whenever these prisoners were out of there cells they wore facemasks...such horrid looking things!!

Because of the strict seperation methods the convicts even wore their masks to the custom built chapel. The masks were removed when they were in their own seperate cubicle in the chapel..

And of course there is the usual game of 'lock your siblings in the solitary confinement cells'...

The Isle of the Dead is literally an island graveyard where 1100 convicts, military and civil officers, their wives and children are buried. 

Point Puer (right in the below picture) was where a  Boy's Prison was established (1834-1849) . 

Most boys were aged between 14 and 17 and though the conditions were very strict here, they were educated and some boys learnt 'trade' skills. 

As beautiful as this historic site is, it is hard not to visit this place and not carry around a 'deep, deep feeling of sadness' about the utterly horrendous events that occurred here on the 28th of April, 1996.

(35) innocent people lost their lives at Port Arthur and nearby.

Watching the reports of this insane event unfolding on TV was incredibly unreal and unbelievable. 

A tranquil Memorial Garden has been established around the remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe (where 20 people were killed during the massacre). 

It was created as a place of remembrance and reflection.

An incomprehensible event!!

A tragic chapter added to the history of Port Arthur...


  1. Hello beautiful people! I have just be updating myself on your blog on this dreary
    Brisbane day. What a fabo place is Tasmania! lots of great exploring to do...
    I am looking forward to a few chardy's and a hug and lots of updates.Merry Christmas to you all and see you in the New Year! Love Tina and boys x

  2. My Mum loved Port Arthur,she said it was just like being in England again.Lovely pics Megan.

  3. Beautiful post as always Megan. Isn't it a shame that Port Arthur is now so well known for all the wrong reasons. I had chills reading that list of names.
    I know the human libertarians would be a little upset by it, but maybe some of our current criminals would be less likely to re-offend with a little Port Arthur style hospitality. Maybe not the anaesthetic-free amputation however.


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