The Port Arthur Historic Site welcomed the first visit for the season by a big cruise ship, the Sea Princess, with around 2000 passengers on board, and offered another first, a new tour to the Coal Mines, an offer taken up and enjoyed by many of them.
The exclusive day tour, entitled Convict to Coalface, offers the opportunity to experience two World Heritage Convict Sites in the one day. Let by a knowledgeable guide drawn from Port Arthur’s professional guiding team, participants explored the ruins of houses, barracks, offices and the dark, damp underground cells of those who once lived and worked at the Coal Mines.
Located in a now peaceful bush setting on the north western tip of the Tasman Peninsula near Saltwater River, around a 30 minute drive from Port Arthur, the Coal Mines, while less well-known than its famous neighbour, was an important element in the great experiment in crime and punishment on which the Australian nation was founded. Operated by convict miners, the Coal Mines was a place where the ‘worst of the worst’ reoffenders were sent for punishment, and also an attempt by authorities to make prison institutions self-funding or even profitable.
The tour includes coach transfers between Port Arthur and the Coal Mines Historic Site, a tour of the Coal Mines and a Tasmanian-themed gourmet morning tea, as well as a guided tour and harbour cruise at the Port Arthur Historic Site.
Around sixty passengers of the Sea Princess took the inaugural tour yesterday, and their feedback indicated that they were impressed by the experience. Port Arthur, which boasts a sheltered deep water harbour, is an increasingly popular day port call for cruise vessels, with no fewer than eight port calls booked for the current season.
The Convict to Coalface tour is an exclusive group tour available only by advance arrangement with the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority.