Port Arthur and Hobart

June 24, 2023  •  2 Comments

Today we headed to Hobart for the conclusion of the tour.  On the way we stopped at Port Arthur.

Taken from Wikipedia:

Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula, in TasmaniaAustralia. Port Arthur is one of Australia's most significant heritage areas and an open-air museum.

The site forms part of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage property consisting of 11 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."[3]From 1833 until 1853, it was the destination for the hardest of convicted British criminals, those who were secondary offenders having reoffended after their arrival in Australia. Rebellious personalities from other convict stations were also sent there. In addition, Port Arthur had some of the strictest security measures of the British penal system.

As punishment, the prisoners would receive the bare minimum of bread and water.[7] Under this system of punishment, the "Silent System" was implemented in the building. Here, prisoners were hooded and made to stay silent; this was supposed to allow time for the prisoner to reflect upon the actions which had brought him there. Many of the prisoners in the Separate Prison developed mental illness from the lack of light and sound. This was an unintended outcome, although the asylum was built right next to the Separate Prison. In many ways, Port Arthur was the model for many of the penal reform movement, despite shipping, housing, and slave-labour use of convicts being as harsh, or worse, than others stations around the nation.

We took both  a land and boat tour of the area.  Our guide on the land tour assumed  the role of one of the convicts and told us some pretty chilling stories about the horrific treatment of the inmates.  There was also a boys' prison with inmates as young as nine years old.  I went into one of the rooms(unlike the one in the photo)  where some inmates were punished by serving time in isolation.  The prisoners had to live in pitch black rooms in isolation.  After a few seconds in this room, I couldn't wait to get out.  I can only imagine how living in these conditions would affect a person for hours, days or weeks.

Not much space in the rooms.  I'm not sure where the bed was.

I had forgotten that on April 28, 1996, this site was the location of a massacre.  Thirty-five people were murdered and 23 wounded before the perpetrator was captured by the Special Operations Group.  Subsequent to this, a national restriction was placed on high capacity semiautomatic shot guns and rifles.  The 28 year old is now serving 35 life sentences plus 1,035 years without parole in the psychiatric wing of Risdon Prison in Hobart.  

After the prison was closed in 1877, the buildings started to fall into disrepair and decay.  The property was put up for auction but not sold until 1889.  The decay was seen as something positive, as the Tasmanian population wished to distance themselves from the dark images of Port Arthur.  Those who bought Port Arthur property began tearing down the buidings.  This distraction was continued with the the fires of 1895 and 1897 which destroyed the old prison house.  Also earthquake tremors led to more damage.  In 1979, funding was received to preserve the site as a tourist destination, due to its historical significance.  Today  Port Arthur receives over 250,000 visitors a year.  The government continues to put a lot of money into the upkeep and repairs.

In the evening we drove up to the top of Mount Wellington which overlooks Hobart.  The drive was along a 22 km narrow road- fortunately, we didn't see very many animals when we left to go back to the city.

One of the buildings on top of Mount Wellington which overlooks the city.    The mountain rises to 1,271 metres above see level.  

Alan and I did some off trail hiking to find our spot for the sunset.  We had to walk quite a way in order to get a good view of the various layers of mountains.  


On our last morning, we drove to Mount Field National Park to check out a couple of waterfalls.  Mount Field National Park was founded in 1916, making it, along with Freycinet,  Tasmania's oldest national park.  It was very scenic with various waterfalls.

On my last night in Hobart before leaving for Melbourne and back to Toronto, I walked down to the water.   Hobart is the capital of Tasmania and the most  populated city of the Australian island state (pop approximate 243,000).  


These are fantastic images of some locations I visited. You are an amazing photographer. Captured a definite "feel" for each location, Congrats!
Bill Porter(non-registered)
A "different" place and not known here, Port Arthur.
I didn't remember the massacre either.
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