Port Arthur - a place of tragedy and beauty

Port Arthur – a place of tragedy and beauty

A visit to the historic site of Port Arthur in Southern Tasmania is quite an experience.

A few years ago I spent half-a-day there as part of a three-week trip to the Apple Isle, and I was filled with a sense of awe and wonderment at the sheer scale and grandeur of the place.

However, there is a dark side to the old convict prison site which, up until 1870 was home to thousands of convicts from the United Kingdom.

The former penal colony contains more than 30 historic buildings, extensive ruins from a spate of bushfires in the 1900s, and some of the most beautiful grounds and gardens you will see anywhere.

It caters for tourism these days, rather than punishment – and is obviously vastly different from those dark old convict days of the 1800s.

The facilities at Port Arthur are extensive, with tours of the main jail building (called the Penitentiary) and surrounding areas, leaving every half hour or so.

The one-day bus trip I took with Tours Tasmania to get to Port Arthur was also quite extensive – taking in Eaglehawk Neck, Waterfall Bay, Pirates Bay and the Devil’s Kitchen on the way to Port Arthur.

On the way back we stopped at the gorgeous old historic town of Richmond – famous for its convict-built stone bridge – and the Federation Chocolate Factory to mention just a few places.

As a final ‘icing on the cake’, our friendly and knowledgeable driver Dan took us to one of the highest points in Hobart – the Hobart lookout – from where we had an amazing view right across the whole harbour, the river Derwent, the Tasman bridge and even the massive cruise ship ‘Ovation of the Seas’, which was docked in Hobart harbour.

By Mike Peeters

Port Arthur - a place of tragedy and beauty
Port Arthur – a place of tragedy and beauty










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