The Port Arthur Historic Sites are two of Australia’s World Heritage-listed convict heritage sites – the Port Arthur and Coal Mines Historic Sites, both on the Tasman Peninsula around 100km south-east of Hobart. The sites combined with powerful storytelling and activities offer meaningful and memorable experiences that connect visitors with Australia’s history and culture.
From 1830 until 1877, Port Arthur was the place where convicts who reoffended after arriving in the colony of Van Diemans Land (now Tasmania) were imprisoned. A key element of the colonial system of convict discipline, Port Arthur was located in a remote, harsh area that offered no chance of escape, the ideal destination for hardened, repeat offenders. In its time, it was a groundbreaking attempt to deal with issues of crime and punishment that all societies continue to address today.
Port Arthur was also much more than a prison. It was a complete community—home to the military personnel and free settlers who worked here, an industrial complex producing a huge range of resources and materials and a working farm.
Today the Port Arthur Historic Site is one of Australia’s most visited heritage attractions and has won many awards including being named Best Heritage Tourism Experience in Australia by Australian Gourmet Traveller Magazine in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Spread over an extensive landscape of gardens, parkland and natural bush, the Site contains more than thirty historic buildings and ruins. Some of its structures were partially destroyed in bushfires in the late nineteenth century; their remnants give the place an eerie yet dignified countenance.
As you walk within the Site, the powerful, personal stories of convicts, soldiers, free settlers and their families will reveal themselves to you. Port Arthur’s tale is told in many ways. It will stay with you long after you have departed.
Port Arthur is a place that every Australian should visit. Spending a night or two in the area will allow time to experience Port Arthur’s famous Ghost Tour, enjoy a meal of fresh local produce at Felons Bistro and visit the Coal Mines Historic Site at Saltwater River, about a 25 minute drive from Port Arthur, and to explore the stunning coastal scenery of the region.
Bookings and more information
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