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Port Arthur Historic Site

Home > Hobart > Adventure | Family | Historic Houses | Photography | School Holidays
by Jane McKinnon (subscribe)
I am a mum who is learning how to use my camera. I post on Instagram janes_photo_gallery. Having so much fun.
Published May 15th 2017
Our Past and Heritage awaits you
My first trip to Tasmania could not come quick enough. It was a place I have always wanted to go. One of our cruise stops was Tasmania. It was only one day at Port Arthur.

The cruise ship's tenders made sure we got to the jetty early. I left my family eating breakfast because I knew they would not keep up with my slow pace photographing everything!

Port Arthur
Arriving at Port Arthur by cruise ship.

It was just as I imagined - absolutely beautiful. This was in January and it did rain a little throughout the day. If you go over by car, it is just a 90-minute drive from Hobart. But I only had a day and I made the most of it.

Port Arthur was a penal settlement.

Port Arthur shoreline
Would not have looked like this in 1816 when Joseph Hatfield, my ancestor arrived.
Most Australians would have a convict or two in their history from Hobart. I do, my Grandfather's Grandmother was a Hatfield from there. Her father was Joseph Alexander Hatfield was put on the convict ship -"Fanny", bound for NSW then Tasmania.

old buildings
Old ruins still standing today

The English were sending their convicts to American for awhile but after the War of Independence that was no longer an option for them. So what better place than sending to Van Diemens Land by ship, which took about 100 days. Many children and adults never made it.

Their crimes were trivial compared to today's crimes. My Joseph Hatfield was in trouble a bit in Port Arthur over his years there. Once was for having a quantity of mutton on him which they thought was stolen. Hmm mutton! How different it is now.

old stone buildings
Beautiful stone work-Guard Tower

Port Arthur as a convict settlement closed in 1877. Many a story it holds. If you ever do your family history, don't be surprised if you find yourself related to a convict. They were the toughest to survive back in the 1800's, both here and in England. The poor were poor.

old stone buildings
Stone buildings preserved beautifully

The gardens around the site are kept in magnificent condition. First thing I noticed was the bees, I have never seen these before and could not keep up with them.

large bees
Beautiful flowers

The gardens were made to resemble what it looked like in its original state when the convicts planted the gardens.

Port Arthur gardens

When they were re-doing the gardens they relied on old photographs, drawings that had the gardens in them and they could identify plants and flowers from that. It was also used for growing their vegetable and fruit as t hey had to be self-sufficient.

Port Arthur gardens
Garden paths

I found it so interesting walking around thinking what it would be like if I was a convict back then. I did not do a guided tour, which you can do there are quite a few to pick from. Tickets are
Adult $39, Child $17, Family $99 and Concession $32.

All Entry passes are valid for daytime entry for two consecutive days, visitor guide with a map and 40-minute guided walking tour.
There is the Visitor Centre and the Museum and the Asylum building. Also a 25 minute harbour cruise on the MV Marana.

old stone buildings
The old Hospital

stone ruins
The Penitentiary

Be prepared to not only to be overwhelmed by the surroundings you are in, but the photo opportunities are endless. Take as many batteries as you have and all the lens.

stone ruins
Photo opportunity at every turn.

You can do an audio tour while you are there. I wish I had. It would have been amazing listening to the stories in your headphones while taking these photos. Just download the tour App from the App Store to your iPhone or iPod for $2.99 or hire it from the Visitor Centre with the tour pre-loaded for $6.00.

It is about two hours to complete the audio tour. Just replay it and keep clicking away on that camera.

Fairy Blue Wren
Blue fairy-wren

These elusive very quick birds are fun to try and get a good shot, they are surprisingly used to people and don't fly away at the slightest movement. I found a family of them and stayed for awhile running off many shots.

Garden flowers

All I can say about Port Arthur is if you have not been, go. I would love to go back and spend more time looking at all the things I would have missed. You can not take it all in when you are a crazy photographer like myself. Tasmania is another one of Australia's beautiful secrets. A photography trip with other camera buffs would be a great way to visit again.

Tasmania is our secret garden
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Why? Holiday for a family
When: All year
Phone: Phone (Aus): 1800 659 101
Where: Port Arthur Historic Site Arthur Highway Port Arthur Tasmania 7182 Australia
Cost: Adult $39 / Child $17 / Family $99 / Concession $32
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