A little piece of history in Port Arthur

It’s a glorious late autumn afternoon when I’m walking among the warm honey coloured sandstone ruins. It feels almost surreal that a place that is so haunting and enriched with so much terror still have such natural beauty.

Port Arthur

Port Arthur is today one of Tasmania’s top tourist attractions, but in the 1830s this small town on the Tasman Peninsula was anything but an attraction. For twenty years it served as a penal colony for British and Irish convicts, most of which were hard criminals with a series of offenses.

It was many reasons as to why Port Arthur was the perfect spot for a maximum security prison. Unlike most prison there were no big stone walls or fences. It wasn’t needed. The elements of the harsh nature surrounding the prison was enough. The closest city (Hobart) being 80 nautical mile away. A swim through the freezing cold Southern Ocean, which is known as having some of the roughest seas in the world. And also said to be shark infested. A journey no sane man would attempt. And if he did, (let’s face it a lot of men did go insane in this place) well he would not last very long…

Unfortunately the bloody history of Port Arthur does not end when the prison closes down in 1853.  In April 1996 Port Arthur was once again the scene of brutal horror. When Martin Bryan after having lunch in the on site Café picket up a semi automatic weapon and randomly started shooting people. 35 people died that day in what still is one of the deadliest shootings committed by a single person worldwide.
Port Arthur

Port Arthur is a must on any Tasmanian adventure. And when you visit, make sure you have more than 3 hours to spare. A whole day is probably more appropriate. Or why not pay the settlement a visit after dark? The facts are that there were many who died in Port Arthur, and maybe just maybe a few of those souls have stuck around? A sceptic or not, but when the night falls, Port Arthur becomes a very different place… The are no special effects, just you, ten other people,  an excellent guide that loves telling stories that makes your spine curl when you walk among the ruins with only a lantern to guide you through the darkness…

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