Monday, April 24, 2017


Historic Port Arthur

One of the "must see" places in Tasmania is the ruins of the historic Port Arthur convict settlement. Port Arthur started as a small timber cutting station in 1830, but quickly grew into penal settlement with over 1100 convicts. The convicts worked at timber getting, ship building, brick and shoe making. The first 5 photos are of the large penitentiary, which actually started out as a flour mill (note the small bear climbing on the foundation stone). The large flat area of land in front of the building was initially the harbour, but one of the physical punishments inflicted on the convicts was to make them cut trees, haul them down to the harbour and sink them with stones and earth to build gardens and lawns. Tree trunks are visible in the drains here today. Imagine the immense number of trees buried here and the hard labour imposed on the convicts. The 6th and 7th images are of the Asylum, a separate prison where the worst convicts were kept in solitary confinement and where most of them went mad. The last 2 images are of the guardhouse at the entry to the penitentiary, and the ruins of the guards' barracks. The barracks were a small castle with turrets; not much remains today. Port Arthur closed as a penal settlement in 1877. On April 28, 1996, Port Arthur was the site of one of the worst acts in Australian history when a gunman, Martin Bryant, killed 35 tourists and injured 23 others before being captured. This was one instrumental in leading to Australia's strict gun laws. Mum was visiting Port Arthur just the day before. More photos of the site are coming. A good summary of the history of Port Arthur is on the website

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