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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.