Port Arthur Historic Area

We woke in the middle of the night thinking we were in the middle of a huge thunderstorm. The noise was deafening. When we got up in the morning, the whole area was white. We’d been hailed on! At least both tents coped!

Today was a trip to Port Arthur. It was something both me and my wife really wanted to see. It is such a part of Australian colonial culture and more recent history following the Port Arthur massacre.

The kids loved getting the playing cards and following the convict lotto story. But didn’t really like being chained up in irons. I was quite happy to leave them there but the wife had other ideas.

View across the green

We then joined the informative, if bitterly cold, walking tour around the main penitentiary to get a potted history of the site. Your ticket gives you two days at the site, which I think you could easily fill. But unfortunately we only had a single day.

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After the walking tour we jumped on the cruise boat to head out into the harbour for another perspective. Again, limited time meant we couldn’t visit the islands, as much as I would have liked to..

Highlights for me were the governors cottage and its history as a hotel. The boys were amazed by the bell pulls in the rooms and had a great time following them around the building. The were also amazed by the trap door in the old hotel bar to under the building which served as a cool room. The idea of having no fridges seemed to be almost incomprehensible to them .

The silent prison was definitely an eye opener. An experiment in reform prisoners were forbidden to speak and having to wear masks to hide their identities many of them were driven insane. When locked up the prisoners could pull a string to make a flap sitck out of the cell door to indicate to the guards that they needed something.

The chapel seats were divided into ‘coffins’ so again they prisoners were isolated. They boys couldn’t resist giving the pulpit a go.

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After a few hours walking the kids were a bit over Port Arthur, whereas I could easily have spent many more hours there.

View across the grounds
View across the grounds

The kids activity book was a good idea as the boys loved running around trying to find the clues and collect stamps from various locations.

I had to satisfy my inner nerd and we headed back to camp via the devils kitchen and arch which are located a little way from the campground but are relatively close together. The boys were a bit nervous about walking over the arch 🙂

Devil's Arch
Devil’s Arch

We headed back to camp and after dinner everyone was soon fast asleep after a day on our feet! Thankfully no rain or hail at night but it was still a cold night.

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