“Port Arthur was a key part of the colonial system of convict discipline. Remote, harsh, with no chance of escape, this was the perfect destination for hardened, repeat offenders. … The Port Arthur Historic Site covers around 40 hectares (100 acres) of land containing more than 30 historic buildings, extensive ruins and beautiful grounds and gardens.” (Port Arthur web site).
In its day, Port Arthur was considered a model penal settlement, on the leading edge of reforming the worst criminals.
Port Arthur Historic Site is around 95 km and a 1.5 hour leisurely drive from Hobart. At the bottom of Tasmania, near the Southern Ocean, Port Arthur is often overcast and light drizzle is common. Wear warm clothes and bring a rain coat or umbrella. On the day that we visited (mid summer) it was overcast and cool, but not unpleasant.
We started our visit by taking in the 40 minute guided walking tour of the site. We then explored the site on our own and had lunch at the coffee shop. We finished our visit to Port Arthur Historic Site by taking the harbour cruise on Carnarvon Bay to see the Isle of the Dead and the site of the Point Puer Boys Prison — both important parts of the site. You can not get off the boat, but do get too see the sites and hear their fascinating story from the tour guide.
I am not sure my two children, seven and four years old, understood the historical significance of the site and the terrible things that went on there. I remember my parents taking me to Port Arthur some 30 years ago on our family visits to Tasmania — I hope my children also remember their visit.
On the way home from Port Arthur Historic Site back to Hobart, we stopped in at the Sorell Fruit Farm. My girls had a wonderful time picking fresh fruit. There was a wide range of fruit in season, including cherries, raspberries and strawberries. Picking your own fresh fruit is certainly one of the highlights of visiting Tasmania at this time of year.
These photos are from my Tasmania road trip — further photos and stories about this road trip can be found by following the Tasmania trip tag.