I hadn’t planned on visiting Port Arthur on our trip as I’m not terribly familiar or interested in Australian history. I did however, want to see The Isle of the Dead in Port Arthur. Can’t see one without the other so we went for a day and I’m so glad we did.
I could go on about the history of Port Arthur in this blog; but, really you could research that in your spare time. There were a few things that did really fascinate me while we were here and so I will make mention.
The way the tourists are managed throughout Port Arthur is very well done. I have a degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management which really doesn’t get much of a workout. What I do like to check out while at tourist attractions is how the attraction manages the tourists and I thought Port Arthur did this very well. As part of the bronze ticket, the cheapest ticket you can buy, you get an ipod with a self guided tour so you can walk around on your own and have all the information at your finger tips. You are also entitled to participate in an introductory tour which goes every hour and a guide will walk you around and provide you with the information found on the ipod and other relevant stories.
I also found the tour guides and staff in general to be fantastic. They are obviously passionate and very knowledgable about Port Arthur and liked to share stories about the convicts, the jailers and their families to really make the experience come alive for us visitors.
As the main motivation for visiting Port Arthur was The Isle of the Dead tour we booked and went on it first. The Isle of the Dead is a small island off the Tasman peninsula. It was used as the graveyard for Port Arthur from 1833 to 1877. Around 1100 dead are buried here. Basically anyone who died was buried here so not only the convicts but officials, soldiers and their families. On the lower side of the island the convicts were buried, mostly without headstones in mass graves. It was forbidden to place headstones on a convicts graves; however, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule. The soldiers, officials and their families were buried on the higher north-western corner of the Island, class rules were strictly enforced in life and death for these people.
The tour guide was engaging and obviously loved her job, she told us stories of some of the dead, the grave keepers, families and interesting burial facts.
The other place I wanted to make mention of in this blog is the Coal Mines Historic Site. Port Arthur is on one side of the Tasman Peninsula and the Coal Mine is a drive to the other. It’s free to see, you just drive up and park. We didn’t know anything about the Coal Mine; but, a guy at the caravan park said that we had to go and see it so we did. We were the only people there at the time so had the whole place to ourselves and it was spectacular.
We had a detailed information brochure and map of the area so we self toured around. It was worth the short drive out to see it.
Hey Mon I hope you are going to bring some of this amazing stuff back with you????? I didn’t know about the coal mine either while at Port Arthur. Love you miss you.
I’ll bring some back mum 🙂 love you too
Australian history, it will grow on you 😉
It did! Tasmanians are lucky to have such amazing historical sites that really help the history come alive. Much more interesting then learning from a book in a classroom!
I love the Tasman Peninsula as a whole. Every time we travel to Tasmania I try to visit the historic site. I generally don’t have much passion for modern history, but the historic site really lures you in, now I have read every scrap of information about the site and the people I come across.
Hope you got to see all the natural wonders on the peninsula while you were visiting the historic site. The tessellated pavement is magic….
Cheers & Happy Travels
Hi Sean, thank you for your comment. The Tasman Peninsular is stunning. I didn’t write about it in my blog but we also went to Fortescue bay, the blow hole, tasman arch, devils kitchen, white beach and the Tassie devil park and loved it. You’re right about getting lured in, I think I might do a bit more research about the isle of the dead because I found it so fascinating. We didn’t see the tessellated pavement, I’m not sure what that is. I will go and google it though 🙂
I just checked out your Facebook page… Seems you have seen a good amount of Tassie already… I was born in Longford in the North, there is a little caravan park their (https://www.google.com/maps/place/Longford+TAS+7301/@-41.5927939,147.1221517,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0xaa709911a3d97829:0x403c94dd0ddeec0) on the Macquarie River. Makes a good base for going and seeing things in and around Launceston. Also, Woolmers Estate and Brickendon are literally just up the road. Both places are open to the public for a small fee, they are still working farms, but they where established by free settlers and worked with convict labour. Woolmers also has the National Rose Garden… The area immediately around longford will easily fill in a day or two, it isn’t as well advertised as some of Tassie’s other tourist destinations.
If you get down to the peninsula again, make sure you see the tessellated pavement – I have never seen anything like it, and the whole surrounding area is gorgeous.
While still in Tassie you should be able to find a copy of a book called “Isle of the Dead – Port Arthur”. A lot of the information and pictures the guide would have shown you on your tour are from that book. I got my copy from the gift shop on the way out lol 🙂
So, if you can’t tell, I am a real advocate of Tasmania lol 🙂
Thank you so much for your recommendations Sean. We have been here for 5weeks and are heading back on the ferry so we’ve run out of time. We haven’t seen everything so we will be back. You’re very fortunate to live in such an amazing place 🙂
Oh… I haven’t lived in Tasmania since I was a kid. I have lived in Brisbane since 1996.
So where are you guys off to next?
Ah right, we hVe just spent 3 years in Brisvegas. We are heading back up there and then off to the Cape. I must say, we are missing the QLD weather.
Well head slowly, I think half of everything is blocked north of Townsville on accounts of the cyclone damage.
No need to miss the weather here, it is raining and cold… besides, what is wrong will the cold 🙂
I know, I don’t know if the cape will be accessible by the time we head up but fingers crossed.
The only thing wrong with the cold is that it’s not warm 😄
I loved Port Arthur and found the history very interesting and the guides really brought the place to life. If you want hot come over to WA it is still in the mid 30’s but cools to a pleasant 16c at night so can get a good nights sleep.
Sounds like the perfect temperature. We are heading back up to Brissy now for a wedding so we should be in for some warmer weather
Should be warmer than Tassie… 🙂