Select from a 50 minute, 75 minute or a 90 minute Guided Walk. Be aware of other activities you have booked to enable us to timetable your visit appropriately.
Tour Stop Descriptions
Use these stop descriptions to decide which Tour Number is relevant and useful to your areas of teaching. Talk to our Education Officer if you need more information.
Comprising: Guard Tower, Senior Military Officer’s Quarters, Officers’ Quarters
For most of the convict period, the Senior Military Officer’s Quarters was the home of the Military Officer in charge of the soldiers at Port Arthur. 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 adjoining Free School.
The Penitentiary Precinct
Comprising: Prisoners’ Barracks, The Penitentiary
In the early days of the penal settlement, convicts were housed in rough timber huts. This area is next to the Police Station. Later, as convict numbers increased, the flour mill and granary was converted into a four-storey Penitentiary, due to its failure to supply adequate flour for the settlement. The Penitentiary’s two lower floors contained 136 cells for ‘prisoners of bad character’. The top floor provided space for 480 better behaved convicts to sleep in bunks.
A very large industrial area near the Penitentiary included workshops where prisoners worked and were trained in a range of skills including carpentry, shoemaking, wood turning and blacksmithing. There is no longer any visible evidence above the surface.
The Church represents the important role of religion in convict reform at Port Arthur. Up to 1100 people attended compulsory services here each Sunday. Much of the decorative stonework and joinery in the church was crafted by boys from the Point Puer Boys’ Prison.
Smith O'Brien's Cottage
This cottage housed one of Port Arthur’s most famous political prisoners – Irish Protestant Parliamentarian, William Smith O’Brien (right). Transported for life, he was sent to Port Arthur after an attempted escape from Maria Island.
The Separate Prison
The Separate Prison was designed to deliver a new method of punishment, of reforming the convicts through isolation and contemplation. Convicts were locked for 23 hours each day in single cells. Here they ate, slept and worked, with just one hour a day allowed for exercise, alone, in a high-walled yard. A major conservation program for the Separate Prison began in 2007.
Civil Officers' Row, Government Cottage and Government Gardens
Comprising: Visiting Magistrate’s House, Roman Catholic Chaplain’s House, Junior Medical Officer’s House, Accountant’s House, Parsonage, Government Cottage, Government Gardens
Civil Officers’ Row separated senior officers and their families from the convict population and provided them with housing suited to their status. The Government Gardens offered a quiet and beautiful space, free from the unwanted presence of the convicts.