Today this area is silent and almost empty. But if you had been here between 1834 and 1848, you would have found the busiest and most productive ship yard in Van Diemen’s Land.
Here, convict labourers crafted hundreds of whaleboats, ship’s’ buoys, brigantines and barques for private and government customers.
One of only three dockyards in the British Empire to have used convict labour to build the yard and the ships, it is also the best preserved.
Master shipwright David Hoy worked in the Port Arthur dockyard from 1836 until its closure in 1848. Read more about his life here.
Local artists Ben Booth and Colin Langridge have created the 25-metre long ship sculpture which sits in one of the Dockyard’s slips, evoking visions of the scale of the ships that were made here.
Embedded in the grass are steel outlines of the buildings which stood here—boat sheds, steamers, a sawpit, the overseer’s hut and blacksmith’s shop. As you pass by, the sounds of long-vanished industry surrounds you—the clattering of hammers, sawing, capstans rattling, a mother calling her children to bed.
The Dockyards is an evocative and fascinating part of the Port Arthur Historic Site, the product of years of archaeological and documentary research, and innovative technology and interpretation.
The Dockyard precinct is a short stroll along the waterfront to the north of the main site. Fact sheets can be found at the entrance to the dockyard.