Sunday, 17 April 2016

A pictorial look into our past.

After much deliberation for reasons discussed  further down , we made the decision to go and visit Port Arthur .
Port Arthur was a  penal settlement  at the bottom of Tasmania established around 1830  to house the worst of the  convicts who had been  transported to Australia, the more hardened criminals mostly  ended up at  port Arthur.
This post will  contain a lot of photos, but I feel they tell the story of life  during those hard times.
We arrived  early, purchased our tickets and the first  thing we did was went on the cruise to hear a little of the history of Port Arthur.
We were shown a scale model of what the entire settlement of Port Arthur originally looked like.
As you walk to the  dock, you get  see a  really striking  view of the main  prison.
From the water you get a great view of the settlement, and also what was   the white shipyard managers home.
We also circumnavigated a small island which we were told was called"The Isle of the dead" which we were told over 1100  people( including, convicts,free men and women and  young convict boys) were buried on that small island.
We visited "The Broad Axe Cafe,  which is now just a shell,
On the 28th April 1996 a crazed gunman entered  Port Arthur and went on a  tragic shooting rampage. many innocent lives were lost that day, many of them in the cafe and the decision was made to  demolish  all but the walls which are left as a memorial to all those  poor souls. I agree with the decision to leave the walls as to  completely  remove the building also  leaves no trace and I think we need to see this to  remind us of the devestation he caused to all these families.
A memorial garden  has been established with a reflection pool, and I found this a very calming area  to be.
For this reason we nearly didn't visit Port Arthur, but we  decided  that  if all the  tourists stay away it will fall into disrepair and  so much history will be lost.
The following photos show the main  prison   and surrounding buildings.
We also viewed "The Commandants House", which also was a hotel  at some point.
I especially loved the display of what a typical pantry of bottles goods would have looked like.
It would have been a hard life in those days, there were small cramped loft accommodation   in quarters at the rear of the building for junior servants.
The "Seperation Prison" was also very interesting to go through. The very worst of the prisoners were bought there, they were hooded and were not allowed to see or speak to each other, the guards used sign language to  converse and a  pop up symbol system on the doors was used  when the prisoners need a guard. There were small seperate exercise yards also. This type of psycological   punishment was a new innovation at the time, as authorities were trying to move away from harsh  physical punishment which was the norm.
Some of the  people that passed through the seperate prison.
There was also a beautiful  church at the settlement, multi denominational, which I think is  brilliant, but it is also just a shell too, next to it is a small wooden church that is currently still in use today.
There are many  beautifully restored and conserved homes in the settlement.
When the  prison closed in 1877 many of the buildings were demolished. There has been an ongoing  initiative to bring as much as possible back to life.
Port Arthur has a long and brutal history, but it is our history and for that reason it must not be allowed to be forgotton.
Beautiful gardens  and lawns  surround the  settlement, and are extremely well maintained, they really are a credit to the staff that work there.
We had a  really  good day wandering around Port Arthur, we were there for a full day, the entry pass  allows you to come for two days, and if you  went on all the walking tours and cruise tours  it probably would  take the two days. We learned so much about our  early convict history  and appreciate it all a little more now.I am so glad we made the decision to  visit.
On our return to Hobart we called in to the nearby "Tessallated   pavement on the  foreshore at Eaglehawk neck , a really unusual rock formation  that was definately worth a look.
We had a big day, a powerful day, one  that brought many emotions to the surface, that  I find it difficult to express. I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone visiting Tasmania to go to Port Arthur, I for one am extremely glad I did.
Our holiday continues, we are having such a wonderful time.
Until we meet again,


  1. How interesting. Reading about the history of Australia is nothing compared to seeing it in real life. It is all beautifully preserved. I agree, the gardens look lovely.
    What was the 'Isle of the dead' about? Were people buried there? (Sorry, I didn't get the end of your sentence).
    How sad about the shooting in the cafe. I didn't know about that. It's good they made a sort of memorial.
    Thank you again for sharing the photos. I feel like I've been on a trip too.
    Greetings from Spain,

    1. Hi Lisca, yes the Isle of the dead was the cemetery for the settlement, such a small island for so many.We were told that only in the later years did convict burials have headstones..I have no relatives buried there that I am aware of. Sorry about not finishing the sentence..have fixed it up..cheers.

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  2. Very interesting day. You must be clocking up the walking kms. Where are you staying? Caravan parks, motels, friends....

    1. We certainly did do some walking, it has been lovely. We stayed in a mix of motels and cabins in caravan parks. The original plan was to do all cabin stays as we thought that would be the cheaper option, but we found that there were many lovely motels out there equally as cheap and in many cases much cheaper.
      t always pays to check.
      take care

  3. i found port arthur to be sad & fascinating, i fell in love with the cottages & the beauty with which they simply decorated them.
    glad you had a wonderful holiday
    thanx for sharing

    1. I have to agree Selina, I too found Port Arthur sad as well, but also an amazing place to wander around.
      It is just so hard to imagine what those poor souls must have gone through.
      We did have a wonderful time, but have been extra busy on our return to the farm.
      Take care