New daily Museum House talks at Port Arthur

November 7, 2012

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 ere, some date from the post-convict township of Carnarvon.

Port Arthur Guides are now offering daily talks in two of the most popular of the convict-era Museum Houses at Port Arthur. Visitors can 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.

Junior Medical Officers House

The Junior Medical Officers 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.

Commandants 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.

Talks schedule

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

10.30am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm

Commandants House

11.30pm, 1.30pm and 3.30pm

A Port Arthur Guide with visitors at the Junior Medical Officers House

A Port Arthur Guide with visitors at the Junior Medical Officers House

Visitors inside the Junior Medical Officers House at Port Arthur

Visitors inside the Junior Medical Officers House at Port Arthur

The Commandants House at Port Arthur

The Commandants House at Port Arthur

The Junior Medical Officers House. Photos by Alastair Bett

The Junior Medical Officers House. Photos by Alastair Bett