Visitors experience the Commandants House - a convict heritage museum at Port Arthur

Visitors experience the Commandant’s House - a convict heritage museum at Port Arthur

Museum Houses

There are a number of historic houses at Port Arthur that have been restored and furnished to offer visitors an insight into daily life at the settlement.

While most date from the convict era, some date from the post-convict township of Carnarvon.

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NEW: Daily Museum House Talks

Port Arthur Guides are now offering daily talks in two of the most popular of our Museum Houses at Port Arthur. Join them to hear about the history of the house and details about some of the occupants, their lifestyles, the conservation of the building, and some of the highlights of the house's furnishing and design. 

To hear these talks, simply be at the respective museum house at the times listed below. Access to these talks is included in the cost of Site entry.

Junior Medical Officers House, on Civil Officers Row

10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm

Commandants House

11.30pm, 1.30pm and 3.30pm

The Commandant’s House is a heritage museum displaying Australian colonial artifacts
Commandant's House

The Commandant was Port Arthur’s most senior official. A residence befitting his rank and position was erected on high ground on the fringe of settlement in 1833.

The Commandant's House, originally built as a simple wooden cottage, had a commanding view over the rest of the settlement. It evolved over the years to become a many-roomed complex fringed by ornate gardens and pathways and separated from the rest of settlement by high masonry walls.

As Tasmania’s period of convict transportation drew to a close in the late 19th century, the building changed hands to become the Carnarvon Hotel in 1885 and then a guest house which operated until the 1930s.

The Roman Catholic Chaplains House is a historic building at Port Arthur, where many Irish convicts were imprisoned
Civil Officers Row

The Junior Medical Officer's House (1848) was originally built for the Commissariat Officer Thomas J. Lempriere.

It is one of five houses which form Civil Officers Row. This building, along with the Parsonage (1842), The Accountant's House (1842), The Magistrate's and Surgeon's House (1847) and the Roman Catholic Chaplain's House (1843), were all constructed during the 1840s and intended for the most important officials of the settlement.

Today, the Junior Medical Officer's House and the Parsonage are furnished and open to visitors, while the Accountant's House serves as our Education Centre. The Parsonage also houses a display that celebrates the post convict-era history of the area.

Trenham Cottage at Port Arthur is one of the post convict Carnarvon era historic buildings that has been preserved

This cottage, typical of the post-convict Carnarvon period of the settlement, was built around 1900 for the Trentham family and has been restored to appear as it may have done around 1915.

Smith O’Briens’ Cottage is a significant historical building once home of the Irish political prisoner who was incarcerated at Port Arthur
Smith O’Brien’s Cottage

Originally built as a stable, this building was converted into a cottage to house one of Port Arthur’s most famous political prisoners, Irish Protestant Parliamentarian William Smith O’Brien. Following the closure of the Port Arthur prison, the cottage was used as a private residence, then as a youth hostel.