Still firm believers that Sydney Harbour is the most spectacular on the continent, we learned this week, that it is one of only 3 natural deep water harbours in Australia. The other two are right here in Tasmania – Hobart and Port Arthur. Like Sydney, they were discovered early by all those seafaring captains who settled this land. (Hobart is in fact the second oldest city of our Nation.)
Taking advantage of the Harbour, Port Arthur Prison was built in the 1830’s as a secondary penal colony for repeat offenders, and it was truly harsh. So harsh, that 10 convicts transferring from Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour near Strahan, sailed a boat out Hell’s Gate and made their way to Chile (in the most successful convict escape of the time) rather than go there.
The day of our visit was brilliant sunshine and a warm Tassie day, so the mood was perhaps not as bleak as it might be. Thus it was, that Port Arthur was an interesting learning experience for us all about how the people lived here and the attitudes of the government of the time, to punishment and reform.
On purchase of our entry, we were funneled straight into a walking tour, booked onto a ferry ride into the Harbour, issued with kids workbooks and allocated 10 playing cards which would help us to follow the story of a particular convict who had come to Port Arthur. We spent the day exploring and learning – a highlight being the play performed behind the penitentiary of “A Boy’s Life” which gave us all the story of “George Hall”? (I think!) – a bushranger who was incarcerated in Port Arthur.
Here are some snaps from our day…
In keeping with the Port Arthur work ethic, we put in a little more of our own hard labour to establish our campsite on the Tasman Peninsula. Thrown a curve ball when the campsite double booked the Bolger’s cabin, Team Tasmania rose to the challenge erecting tents and setting up camp together complete with roaring fire.
Good to be back to our usual holiday setup together…