Monday, 28 February 2011

Port Arthur Historic Site

Towards the end of our week in Tasmania we visited the Port Arthur Historic Site. Port Arthur was home to a convict prison first opened in the 1840s.

The historic buildings are built around a natural harbour. The wide open spaces and empty, often derelict, buildings were eerie and awe inspiring at the same time. You don't often visit museums on this scale.

Included in your ticket is a 45min guided tour. You don't visit the inside of any buildings with your guide, but get a short lecture on the history of the penal colony. It was an interesting start to our visit. As a working prison it produced ships, had logging and various other chain gangs. During much of it's life the prison ran at a profit. It also experimented with various reform programs that were quite advanced at the time.

The prison closed in the 1870s and almost immediately became a tourist attraction for day trippers from Hobart. Two bush fires in the 1890s caused widespread damage, as did subsequent years of neglect creating the site you visit today.

It was really interesting to have free reign to wander round and in and out of buildings, both with and without roofs. We popped in over two days to see everything that we wanted to.

Definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

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