Built in 1842, the Guard Tower was one of two towers and a key element of the military precinct that watched over the site.
The Guard Tower contained a storeroom for guns and ammunition, a guard room and a watch tower. Three cells were provided for soldiers, civilian offenders and female convict servants. They were locked up for minor crimes like drunkenness, or waited here to be sent to Hobart for trial for more serious offences like assault.
The soldiers of Port Arthur were responsible for security and for pursuing and capturing escaped convicts. A small number of soldiers were accompanied by their wives who washed, sewed and provided basic nursing care for the men in their husband’s company. Children of the soldiers and lower ranking settlement officials and free staff were educated together in the adjoining Free School.
After the settlement closed, most of the military complex was demolished. The 1897 bush fires destroyed much of what remained.
Today the Guard Tower stands as a ruin on Settlement Hill. Climb the stairs to the viewing platform at the front of the tower, and take in the beautiful views across the cove – a perfect lookout point even now.