The Port Arthur Historic Site is open for business and operating at full capacity again following the bushfire emergency that closed the Arthur Highway, the only road access to the Tasman Peninsula, for nearly ten days in early January. Visitors are again enjoying the World Heritage listed attraction in sunny Tasmanian summer weather.
All attractions, activities, facilities and tours are operating normally; guided tours of the Site, the harbour cruise, tours of the Isle of the Dead cemetery and Point Puer Boy’s Prison tour and nightly ghost tours are all available daily. The new, award-winning Paranormal Investigation Experience is available on the last Saturday of each month and our cafés and Felons Bistro are all operating normally.
Our seasonal presentation of the Port Arthur History Plays continues until this Saturday, 26 January and our school holiday Family Fun activities conclude on Sunday 27 January.
Around the region, other attractions, tours and accommodation providers are operating normally and, like Port Arthur, welcoming visitors to this spectacular region.
While the bushfires caused considerable damage to areas north of the Peninsula, particularly around Dunalley and Murdunna on the Forestier Peninsula and fire damage is evident along the journey, there is no fire damage around
Port Arthur itself nor at most of the scenic spots along the way.
Tourism and business operators in the region agree that one of the best ways to help affected regions overcome the impacts of these fires is for people to visit and spend some time experiencing the world-class activities and attractions available. Local tourism operators encourage all Tasmanians and visitors from further afield to come back soon and discover what makes this part of the world so special.
From Prison to Refuge…
The Forcett bushfire, which took a devastating toll on property particularly in the seaside towns of Dunalley and Murdunna, started some 50 kms north of the Tasman Peninsula and spread south during record breaking temperatures accompanied by fickle but gusty winds on Friday 4th January. Fortunately, there were no lives lost as a direct result of these bushfires which is likely due to the ‘early warning system’ enacted by the authorities which enables direct alerts to be sent to mobile telephone as well as via other communication modes.
Given the sudden onset and ferocity of the bushfire it was necessary to close the highway and as a result, many of the visitors to the Port Arthur Historic Site that day were not able to return to Hobart. The Port Arthur Historic Site became a safe haven for stranded tourists and local evacuees and was ably supported by a mixture of staff that remained on site as well as local community volunteers who worked to feed, advise and care for stranded visitors and evacuees, and make them as comfortable as possible for the duration. Our tourism industry partners worked steadily to evacuate tourists by boat to Hobart to ensure they were able to continue on their planned trips or return home safely.
The Port Arthur Historic Site is extremely grateful to all those that assisted to take such good care of our guests and local community. Staff and management of the site were pleased to be able to play such an important role during this anxious time and look forward to welcoming those visitors whose plans were disrupted, back to the Port Arthur Historic Site again to enjoy all that we have to offer. The care provided to our unexpected guests was definitely appreciated.
“Have no words to describe the amazing work and hospitality of all the staff and CEO during the bushfire. Attending 500 people every day, they never stopped making everyone feel comfortable and safe. And the big bonus was 3 first class meals every day. Guys, greetings from Francisca and Garry”.
“I have just returned home to NSW. We were stranded on the Tasman Peninsular for 5 days. All staff and volunteers who looked after us at the site during this period were absolutely amazing. I was, and still am, overwhelmed by the care and generosity given. Thank you so, so much, we will be returning to your beautiful part of the world xoxoxoxox”.
“Thank you Port Arthur staff for looking after us so well while we were trapped by the fires. Your actions were truely amazing. Even though you were all exhausted, you still found time to make sure we were all comfortable, and even crack a joke or two. Also a big thanks to the locals of Carnarvon who were amazingly supportive and welcoming. Your kind actions will not be forgotten.” – Clan Mackenzie (Norway)
Comments posted on the PAHS Facebook page