Port Arthur Visitor Centre - TAS

  Point of Interest

Position

DEG: -43.145675 147.850438
DMS: 43º 08' 44.43" S 147º 51' 1.56" E
UTM: 55 G 5222657mN 569154mE
Altitude: 11.86m

Description

Address & Contact

131 Point Puer Road
Port Arthur TAS 7182
Phone: 1800 659 101
Email: reservations@portarthur.org.au
Web: https://portarthur.org.au/what-to-do

Information

Port Arthur's main claim to fame is the extensive ruins of the penal colony that operated from 1833 to 1867. It was named after George Arthur, the lieutenant governor of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). It was initially established as a timber station in 1830.

Visitors are introduced to Port Arthur tourist area through a new and extensive visitor information centre. This building sells entry tickets and includes a cafe, restaurant, gift and tourist shop and toilets. And seats for the weary. It is built over two levels with entry at the upper level and access to the historic area from the lower floor. The whole area is wheelchair friendly.

Port Arthur was the destination for convicts who, having been transported to Tasmania, had again offended once or twice. It had a reputation as a harsh punishment environment but was intended as a place of rehabilitation. It reflects the understanding of punishment and rehabilitation of offenders of that day, which is vastly different to current ideas.

As you leave the visitor centre to begin your tour, you well see the remains of the original penitentiary building before you. The tour guide will bring you to this point and present you with a potted history. The penitentiary started out as a flour mill, driven by a water wheel or convicts on a tread mill. The venture was not successful so the building was converted to a two level jail. The building was largely destroyed by fire after its closure. Steel frames support many of its walls.

The next philosophy to be tried was the Separate Prison, which was built about 500 meters to the right. Under this scheme inmates were known by number instead of name and were not permitted to communicate with each, not even by sight. This building is in much better condition than the original jail.

Behind the penitentiary building much of the remainder of the site is set out on a hillside. The area include the guard house, troop accommodation, the hospital and at the far end, the superintendent's home. This building is well restored and used as a museum that contains rooms furnished as they originally were, plus other displays and information.

Off to the right of these buildings is the asylum that was built to house convicts who developed mental problems. It now contains a coffee shop. Further to the right still, past the Separate Prison is what remains of the residential area and two churches, a smaller building and the ruins of the cathedral, also destroyed by fire. This area faces onto the official gardens.

After the flour milling venture failed the two major industries were brick making and boat building. Port Arthur is located on Carnarvon Bay which in turn opens onto Port Arthur inlet. It is a significant body of water and opens to the south between headlands that are part of the rugged south coast of the Tasman Peninsula. The boat building area is on the north shore. The ruins of buildings and the slipways have been restored to the point where a good understanding of the operation can be obtained.

The entry price to Port Arthur includes a cruse on a modern motor catamaran that takes visitors into Carnarvon Bay, past the site of the boys prison on Point Puer, past the Island of the Dead where all burials were conducted and out into the waters of the main port.

The ticket allows entry on a second day. If you have time plan to stay in the area, although it is less than two hours from Hobart by road and closer to Richmond.
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Wildflowers

Weather

Closest Weather Station

Tasman Island at 17/08:30pm EDT
Distance from Port Arthur Visitor Centre 16.15km SE
TemperatureFeels LikeRel. HumidityDew PointPressureRainfallWind DirectionWind SpeedGusts
12.8°C6.7°C85%10.3°C1003.1hPa0.0mmSW33km/hr
18knots
80km/hr
43knots

Closest Climatic Station

Tasman Island
Distance from Port Arthur Visitor Centre 16.15km SE
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C17.917.416.814.913.211.310.811.512.513.415.416.5
Mean Min. °C11.411.511.19.88.67.26.56.66.77.58.910.1
Mean Rain mm75.351.167.568.673.471.871.079.388.161.954.961.3

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