We made an early start to Port Arthur, via Sorrell, stopping at Tessellation Pavement, the Devil’s Kitchen, Tasman Blowhole and Admiral’s Arch. The rugged coastline made it easy to understand how so many convicts, attempting escape, met their death. It also gave some insight into how bad things must have been in penal settlements.
The Port was easy to get to and had so much to offer, just as all the reviews suggested. The ticket was $39 each for adults with no concession and included a 40 minute tour of the near garden, the penitentiary, asylum, hospital, commissary residence and the church.
After this we had some time to wander at will until our boat trip (also included in the cost) to neighbouring Puer Island (a prison for boys under 15) and Isle of the Dead, as well as giving some information about the bay and the escapes that had been planned, the early ship-building and other industries. The tour guides were very informative and although we could have spent the day there, we both felt that we had received good value, memorable stories and outstanding photographs.
A very Aussie fancy dress – The funniest story we heard was about a convict who had been a tinker and traveller. He decided that to escape he would need a disguise and a guard would be too hard, a civilian was too much like a convict, so he caught and skinned a kangaroo. Draping the skin over him, he made his way to the narrow stretch of land that would lead him to freedom, where guard dogs were kept hungry in order to catch any escapees. The dogs smelt him but the soldiers, rarely seeing fresh meat, also thought the big kangaroo was worth a shot. Realising that he was close to being killed, he called out that it was he and was caught, sent back to the penitentiary and received 100 lashes.
Port Arthur is definitely worth a visit. Publications say you can spend a day there and I can see how that is possible. Many stay or arrive for the ghost tours. We were there for about 4 hours and we didn’t see some things, but I felt it was fine. We had time to buy up at one of the souvenir shops, so I’m happy.
Safe travels. It may be cool but you’ll need suncream, water and hat because the sun bites.