Difference between revisions of "Port Arthur"
Revision as of 03:38, 26 July 2014
Port Arthur  is a small town and former penal settlement on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania, the island state of Australia. The town is about one and a half hours drive from the state capital Hobart.
The major attraction of Port Arthur is the Port Arthur Historic Site, the 40 hectare (100 acre) site of a former convict colony. Many highly recognisable ruins remain, including the penitentiary, the hospital, the insane asylum, and the church. Some portions of the site have been recreated but much is in the original condition. The Port Arthur Historic Site is Australia's best known historical site from the convict era.
Port Arthur was first established as a timber station in 1830, supporting the infant colony of Van Diemen's Land. It became the site of a major penal (prison) colony for male convicts from 1833, a place of secondary punishment for re-offenders, in the 19th century era of convict transportation to Van Diemen's Land (the former name of Tasmania). It very quickly gained a reputation as a "hell on earth". At its peak in the late 1840s, Port Arthur became a near self-sufficient settlement, driven by the labour of its tormented inmates. Ultimately, after a couple of decades of decline in the 1850s and 1860s, Port Arthur finally ended its days as a penal settlement in 1877.
In 1996 Port Arthur Historic Site became the site of Australia's deadliest gun massacre when a single shooter opened fire on visitors, killing 35 people. Memorials to those who died can be found at the site.
Port Arthur is located about 100 km south-east of Hobart on the Tasman Peninsula.
By car, Port Arthur is a day trip from Hobart, although the Historic Site is quite large and it is good to plan at least 4–6 hours there. The roads between them is sealed and in reasonable condition, although much of the trip is on narrow country roads, not highways. Drivers from Hobart should take the Tasman Highway past Hobart airport to Sorrell and the Arthur Highway from Sorrell. The road is well signposted as "Port Arthur" from the airport onwards.
Bus tours of the Historic Site are available through:
Port Arthur Historic Site
Admission to the Historic Site is via the Visitors Centre from the car park, alternatively via the dirt track next to one of the car parks. Parking at the site is free. There are several levels of entry available:
Family tickets include 2 adults and up to 6 children.
There are no tickets granting entry only. Tours of the Isle of the Dead and of Point Puer may be purchased with a Bronze Pass at the Visitors Centre or bought on the ferry: each tour is $12 adults, $8 children and $34 family.
Having arrived at Port Arthur, most people view the ruins on foot. All tickets include a 30 minute ferry trip. Visitors who purchase guided tours of the Isle of the Dead or Point Puer take this ferry to the two locations: there are no self-tours of these locations.
For the less mobile traveller, Visitor Centre facilities allow for independent access, including the Café, Restaurant, Gift Shop, Interpretation Gallery and Rest Rooms. The remainder of the Historic Site comprises a variety of areas, some of which provide independent access, and others which require assisted access. Disabled parking is provided adjacent to the Visitor Centre entry. A courtesy buggy provides a regular drop off and pickup service around the site for disabled visitors. (Enquire on arrival, at the information counter, for times of operation).
Bookings can be made online 
Port Arthur Historic Site
The Historic Site is open every day of the year from 8:30AM. Visitors may tour the site until dusk, and those on a Ghost Tour remain until the conclusion of their tour in the late evening.
Some of the Site is ruined, less from neglect and more as a consequence of several severe bushfires in the 1890s. Ruins are partially restored but the Site does not intend to reconstruct them completely. The major points of interest inside the Historic Site are:
Gift Shop is in the visitor's centre.
There is accommodation nearby in Port Arthur. Many travelers see Port Arthur in a day trip from Hobart.
This is an outdoor site with highly changeable weather. It can be quite cool even at the height of summer: prepare for daytime temperatures as low as 10–15℃ (50–60℉) in summer. Wearing comfortable walking shoes and being prepared for possible changes in weather will ensure you have an enjoyable time. Hat, sunscreen and raincoat are strongly recommended.
The Historic Site generally tries to maintain a respectful attitude towards the convict-era inhabitants of the colony, many of whom led unimaginably difficult lives. They do not role-play or renact convict times.
However you are unlikely to actually offend or hurt someone by making light of convict times: it is the subject of the 1996 massacre about which visitors should be careful. Please do not discuss the massacre with staff or local residents of Port Arthur, unless they bring up the topic. Many locals and Historic Site staff were present in the area or were at the site of deaths that day and others had friends die. Appropriate respect and decorum should be observed in the Memorial Garden also: friends and family of those killed still visit the site. Pay particular attention to this on the anniversary of the massacre, the 28th April.