Port Arthur | Tasmania

port arthur pano
Port Arthur3 (1 of 1)-2On our recent trip to Tasmania we visited Port Arthur historic site, a definite “must do” on anyone’s list visiting for the first time. It is officially Tasmania’s top tourist attraction.

portarthur18-It was initially used as a timber station in 1830 but is best known for being a penal colony. From 1833 to 1853 it was the destination for some of Britain’s worst criminals. It also housed re-offenders and problem convicts from other sites. It was harsh and brutal.

It was found to be the perfect spot as it is mostly surrounded by sea and just has a 30 metre isthmus at Eaglehawk Neck, so easily guarded. It was heralded as being inescapable but a handful of convicts did escape and one poor unlucky man, who thought he could get past the guards in a kangaroo skin, found himself being lined up in the sites of the guard’s guns, but not because they knew it was a convict but because they were half starved and wanted to eat the kangaroo. He realised this and quickly lost the guise and gave himself up.

For the prison staff and their families the contrast was extreme. At first glance you would think it was a lovely village with houses, gardens, parks, vegetable patches and fruit trees. Sitting on a harbour, it is a pretty scene.


Looking deeper you see the cells that housed the convicts and especially the Separate Prison System that had prisoners isolated and forced not to speak. Some could not tolerate the harshness and committed murder to which the punishment was death, just to escape its hostile shores.


Unfortunately violence reared its ugly head again on 28th April 1996 when a crazed lone gunman went on a shooting spree and massacredportarthurreflection2-quite a few people throughout the site. Today there is a quiet  memorial garden set aside beside the old cafe where he started his killing spree.  This serves as a monument for the 35 people that were killed. 35 people were killed in cold blood with 23 being injured. It will never be forgotten.

“Death has taken its toll
Some pain knows no release
But the knowledge of brave compassion
Shines like a pool of peace.
May we who come to

this garden
Cherish life for the sake
of those who died
Cherish compassion for the sake
of those who gave aid
Cherish peace for the sake
of those in pain.”

Because of this act, our Prime Minister at the time brought forward new gun control laws that are amongst the strictest in the world.

A heritage listed site with a colourful history.

Categories: Photo JournalTags: , , , ,


  1. Fabulous photos Kaz, and an informative write up of Port Arthur’s colourful past. A sad place, but very pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading your post and admiring the pictures I thought that Tasmania is a beautiful and very colorful country. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review, Karen. We were there early 90’s, so it looks a bit different. I’ll never forget April ’96 when I heard the news on a business trip to England 😐


  4. Lovely photos and information Karen. I have been there a few times, I recall a school trip and drawing the old hospital building, later there was a family trip, however, I have to say it is not one of my favourite places to go as it has a disagreeable aura to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Fascinating to see Kaz and a good point about strict gun laws!! I was born in Burnie, Tasmania and I love seeing parts of its history and culture 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your photographs are superb. Thanks also for sharing the poignant and interesting history of the place. Should I ever embark on my dream tour of Australia, I will be sure to visit this historic site.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Karen..all these photos are terrific..you see things from such different angles too..thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Good pics and text. I just can’t feel good about Port Arthur after being there only once many years ago. Too much haunting history and too much Inhumanity to man. Some books I have read about it make me cry inside. But it IS part of our history and as such to be kept as a reminder perhaps that we need to show compassion instead of violence to people who are in trouble and need help to become what they can become for good. I am not saying the people incarcerated there did not deserve to be there, that’s not for me to comment on, but their treatment passed the line of acceptance. I don’t know what the answer should/could have been but nothing can be changed in this or any other history, only in future events can we make a difference with better results.
    The later tragedy was nothing but that, a terrible tragedy in the lives of so many people. Thanks for the words of the memorial garden being printed in your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanjss so much for your comment so well said. Yes it was inhumane. All I could feel was sadness. Those poor people coming all this way from their families to such harsh treatment sometimes for minor crimes committed. If not for these people I would not be here. They are the backbone of our country and what makes us unique.


  9. Fab shots Karen! Hoping to get there one day..Were there no other ‘ tourist’s ‘ there? so nice to have a quiet wander round.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tusks Glen. We stayed across the road and got a pass from them which enabled us to use the “back door” so I madly clicked away for a few shots before heading to the main area to get our tags.


  10. Great set of images Kaz – what a place of amazing contrasts! As you say on first glance it looks like a lovely village somewhere – I’m watching Downton Abbey at the moment and the first shots made me think of a ruined country estate in England somewhere! The darker side of the place is hard to imagine…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I could definitely live in that mansion!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Armchair traveler I am with you. I savor end the green and beautiful blooms—this morning waking up to frozen trees and 4 inches of snow. And felt some serenity with some of the calming black and whites. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. fantabulous!! I especially love the gate!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. PS but another beautiful place with a sad history!

    Liked by 1 person

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