Port Arthur Tasmania Travel Guide

Port Arthur Travel Guide
A Vagabond Life

Port Arthur Tasmania Travel Guide

Port Arthur is in Tasmania, Australia and in the 1800’s was home to the worst of the British convicted criminals transported to Australia.

Set on a peninsula and surrounded by water Port Arthur was said to be inescapable

The prison used psychological punishment versus physical punishment as it was believed that these convicts were so hardened physical punishment was ineffective.

Convicts did hard labour such as stone cutting, construction and timber felling. 

Boys as young a 9 were also sent to Port Arthur, they were kept separately from the rest of the convicts on Point Puer, however, were still put to hard labour. 

The convict who died at Port Arthur are buried on the Isle of the Dead which can be seen from the boat tour which is included in the entry fee.

The Port Arthur penal settlement was a brutal and savage place where convicts had no hope of leaving.

Port Arthur was also the site of the largest mass shooting in Australia’s history when in April 1996 a lone gunman killed 35 people and injured another 23. 

Strangely today Port Arthur is a peaceful place with a strong sense of calm.

Port Arthur is 100km SE of Hobart

Port Arthur Penitentiary

The Port Arthur Penitentiary is the most imposing building on the site and the first building you notice. It was originally constructed as a grain and flour mill and then converted to house convicts. 

The penitentiary was built over 3 levels with 136 cells on the two lower floors and a dorm for 348 men on the top floor.

The building was destroyed by bushfire in the 1890’s.

Port Arthur Asylum and Separate Prison

The Port Arthur Separate Prison, built in 1849, was based on a Brtish design of 4 wings coming off a central hub. Next door is The Asylum which house Ports Arthurs mentally ill, today The Asylum is a cafe.

Port Arthur Guard Tower

Built in a medieval style the guard tower has clear views of the harbour and convict quarters. Behind the guard tower was the officers and overseers houses.

Port Arthur Hospital

The Port Arthur Hospital is set high on a hill the catch healthy breezes. The hospital had beds for 80 convicts along with a morgue, kitchen and laundry. The building was destroyed in the 1890’s by bushfire.

Shipwrights House & Limekiln

Set in the Dock Yards and built for the Master Shipwright when the dockyards close in 1853 the limekiln next door was used to make mortar and plaster.

Port Arthur Civil Officers Row

Pretty cottages set on the hill overlooking the convict area these cottages housed the senior magistrate, the chaplain and the senior and junior medical officers.

Port Arthur Isle of the Dead

Port Arthur Isle of the Dead is the penal colonies cemetery. 1646 graves have been recorded on the island however only those of military personnel and prison officers have headstones, the rest are unmarked.

The Port Arthur Church

Over 1100 people attended the Port Arthur Church each Sunday. Built in 1830 from stone carved out predominately by young boy convicts the Port Arther church was never consecrated and was badly damaged by fire in 1884.