Children were sent here, some were born here and some, sadly, died here. Port Arthur is known for its harsh history as a prison of discipline, labour and isolation for adults as well as boys as young as nine years old, but this penal settlement was also home to civil servants and their families. They spent their formative and curious years in this beautiful yet brutal place.
Today, children are still a part of our story and Port Arthur is full of big and little things that will keep the kids, both young and old, entertained:
1. Pick a Card
On arrival, you get a playing card on which you will find one of many characters who helped create the life and times of Port Arthur as we know it. Perhaps a scoundrel, a shopkeeper or even the big man in charge. More about them can be found in the Port Arthur Gallery, as well as the information boards scattered on the site. Some of these are just for the older lot, but there are also those aimed at our younger folk.
Hint: Look for the 2’s and 3’s for the younger convict stories.
For an early introduction, there are some people we would like you to meet (find them on our Home page)
2. Activity Book
Learning by stealth and giving them a job as they look out for the answers! And if you can’t find it, there are always our tour guides around the site who can give a hint or two. Ask for the Activity Book at the Visitor Centre when you pick up your tickets.
Like kids don’t know how to get out of things already?! But more inspiration awaits on the Escape from Port Arthur tour as tales of boat stealing, bush wrangling and kangaroo skin dress ups are told.
A more sombre 90 minutes can be spent on the Isle of the Dead, where the number of headstones is far less than bodies buried and stories to share.
Or perhaps take in the landmarks the way of the gentry and treat your family group to a Commandant’s Tour.
4. Ghost Tour
Any guide will admit that our night time tours can lead to some interesting family fun and/or feuds. Warning – don’t try to be the ghosts, because the ghosts will always do it better! Or it can simply backfire in a spectacular way.
This one is for the older kids (we recommend 14 years and over)
5. Let them run free!
We have grounds and gardens galore – take advantage of the space to let them burn off the holiday spirit or even BYO a picnic lunch. Quick grab-and-go sandwiches and snacks are also available at our cafe if you need the extra supplies.
Have your children guide you and make up stories on what life would have been like back in the 1800s as a convict or free person. Imagine trying to learn in that tiny one-room Free School, what games the girls and boys would play, being taught a trade as a young man or how much trouble you could get away with if you were the Reverend’s son.
You can use the paper map provided at entry, or you can go with our interactive online SITE MAP.
6. Take photos and make memories
We adore getting photos and reviews from our visitors, and there really is nothing quite like a child’s take on what they learned and loved.
For these Summer school holidays we are running an online photo competition called Kid’s Eye View – more details can be found HERE.
Our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/portarthur
Our Instagram page: www.instagram.com/portarthurtassie/
7. Got a mini history buff?
If you want to continue or dive a little deeper into something that grabbed their attention, please check out our website pages on the History of Port Arthur and other educational resources.
Convict records can also be found through Libraries Tasmania.