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About Port Arthur

Port ArthurPort Arthur is located approximately 100 km south-east of Hobart on the Tasman Peninsula. Port Arthur village has so much to offer - it is so much more than just an historical site.

Whilst staying in the village of Port Arthur you can experience surfing, sea kayaking, bushwalking, explore huge sand dunes and Remarkable Cave.

Although mainly known as a convict settlement, Port Arthur started out as a timber station in 1830. In the 1833 it became a penal colony. The penal colony is famous world wide for its harsh conditions and very black history, but it is also an amazingly beautiful landscape.

The prison at Port Arthur was used for the worst of the British and Irish convicts, as well as convicts who re-offended after arriving in Australia. The prison design was based on Pentonville prison in London. The prison was built in the shape of a cross. This prison shifted incarceration from a physical punishment to a psychological punishment. Port Arthur penal colony had some of the strictest security with shark infested waters on three sides and the only land contact with the mainland, Eaglehawk Neck was crossed by fences and guarded by prison guards and dogs. The prison closed in 1877. Today Port Arthur prison is said to be home to many ghosts. Late night ghost tours are held on the site.

Places to visit in Port Arthur

Guard Tower and Military Complex
The Guard Tower and Military Complex, are perhaps the most sophisticated buildings at Port Arthur. Now in ruins,it was the third military complex built at the colony.

Isle of the Dead
The island, Isle of the Dead was originally called Opossum Island after the ship, the Opossum, which sheltered here in 1827. Isle of the Dead is so named because it became the cemetery for Port Arthur in 183. It was divided into two sections one for free settlers and the other for convicts. Over the years 1769 convicts and 180 free settlers (mostly military personnel) were buried on the island.

Remarkable Cave
Remarkable Cave is situated about 6 km from Port Arthur historical site. It is a spectacular journey to the cave with breath taking coastal views from Safety Cove across Port Arthur to Budge Head, Resolution Point, Yankee Rock, Cape Pillar and Tasman Island. Remarkable Cave is actually a huge tub rather than a cave created by the collapse of the walls of the cliffs.

The Asylum
The beautiful Asylum building was last major building constructed at Port Arthur and was completed in 1867. It was capable of housing 100 mentally ill patients. Today the Asylum is a major museum at Port Arthur.

The Church and Government Cottage
These impressive buildings are located on the hill and look down across Masons Cove towards the Isle of the Dead. Built around 1836-37 it is probably based on a design by the convict architect, Henry Laing and the Deputy Commissariat Officer, Thomas Lempriere . The church was never consecrated or named. The buildings have been partially rebuilt after being damaged fire.

The Model Prison
Located next to the Asylum is the building known as the Model Prison. It was built in 1848 and is based on the design of Pentonville Gaol in London, with separate cells and an exercise yard. It was built by convict labour. Prisoners were given separate cells and called by number and instead of name, total silence was maintained, and hoods were worn in the exercise yards.


Port Arthur’s maximum average daily summer temperature is 18.5 degrees Celsius in January and the average daily winter temperature is 11.5 degrees in June.

Getting to Port Arthur

By Car: Port Arthur is about 100 kilometres south-east of Hobart on the A9. The 1.5 hour drive is along a scenic road which forms part of the Convict Trail Touring Route.

By Bus/Coach: Daily coach services are available between Hobart and Port Arthur.

By Ferry: Port Arthur can also be accessed by ferry or sea plane from Hobart.

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