Port Arthur, Tasmania C. 1910

I recently went hunting through YouTube to try and find some old footage or pictures of Port Arthur in Tasmania. I was amazed to find  the images below by J. W. Beattie (1859-1930) taken around 1910. I was also taken by the second video that looks at not only Port Arthur but other area as of significant interest to us as we delve into the convict history of Tasmania.  When I came across them I knew they were well worth checking out. For us it is an opportunity to deepen our learning about Port Arthur and the Convicts with images of what it was like through Someone else’s viewpoint and in a by-gone era….. These are well worth watching, Enjoy!

Thanks to Colpeperite for sharing these videos….

Photos from a trip to the former Port Arthur convict settlement and the Tasman Peninsula c. 1910 by J. W. Beattie (1859-1930). Places shown include Tasman Island, Cape Pillar, Tasman’s Arch, Port Arthur, the Isle of the Dead, Point Puer (the boys’ prison) and Saltwater River (coal mines).

Eric Portman reads Lovelace’s famous poem on freedom, with pictures of some Tasmanian colonial gaols – Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbour; Port Arthur, Tasman Peninsula; Cascades Female Factory, Hobart; the Isle of the Dead, Port Arthur.


Archaeology at Port Arthur

One of the many reasons we decided to spend Australia Day at Port Arthur this year was for the children to enjoy their Archaeological Digs. The Children have been learning about Ancient History and how we find out about the past. In doing so we have looked at Archaeology in particular and the ways in which it can help us learn about the past, it’s people and how they lived.

So to be able to go to Port Arthur and see the work of some real Archaeologists was a pleasure. But to be able to learn about the history of our convicts through the findings of an Archaeological Dig was even more impressive.

First we had to examine documents and any photographs of the area where the Archaeological Dig was to take place.

Then we got to see what a section of an Archeological dig would look like. This picture is of the 20th layer on the dig.

We were then shown a drawing made by an archaeologist of the dig site were were looking at. It was very interesting to see all the detail they provided in their drawings.

We then got to ‘clean up’ some artifacts that were found at Port Arthur. This was real hands on and a lot of fun!

Here are some of the artifacts we ‘cleaned up’. Can you see some of them actually fit together…

We also found some of the items had stamps on them. These stamps gave us information and clues as to when the times was made and what it was used for….

We then had to do what all good archaeologists do, document and draw the artifacts we uncovered and cleaned up…

And the best part… Tata had as much fun as the children did and we all learnt a lot!

A Convicts Life #1 – Leonard Hand

Funnily enough, it does not matter how often we return to Port Arthur, there is always something new being done and more information being shared. This time the changes were evident in the separate prison complex. When we went there around 18 months ago, they were excavating this part of the prison and we were unable to go into parts. However this time they had new information displays available on each old cell door.  Very interesting indeed.

This wall shows 171 images of Convicts that were taken around 1873-1874, by an unknown photographer. These images are only a small representation of those men who were subjected to life within the separate prison walls. Upon entry to this prison, Convicts where stripped of their names and whilst in the separate prison they were never again used. These men were put into solitary confinement for around 23 hours a day, only being let out for around 1 hour exercise in a separated exercise area.

This is just one of the separate exercise areas a convict would be able to exercise in - when permission was granted to do so.

At times the convicts may have found themselves allowed to go to Church ( connected to the prison – in the middle) for a mass service. Even under these conditions, convicts were put into individual sections that allowed them to look forward to see the priest and shielded their view of any other person attending the church service.

Inside the Church looking back at where the convicts would have been kept.

Upon reading the information provided about the lives of the convicts that were interned in the separate prison, the life of Leonard Hand was one that struck us as tragic, due to the young age he achieved upon at his death.

Port Arthur Convict - Leonard Hand

Port Arthur – January 2012

During the summer holidays (and at other times throughout the year), Port Arthur has many hands on activities happening around the place.

This year they had the following hands on activities happening (and many more) when we visited on Australia Day…

  • A series of three Historical Plays – The Man Who Threw a Stone, The Shingle Strike and A Boy’s Life 
  • Carved in Stone: the stonemasons who built Port Arthur
  • Port Arthur Beneath Your Feet 
  • Unearthed! Archaeology at Port Arthur 
  • Gardens of Exile 
  • Discover Port Arthur’s Furry and Feathered Fiends 
  • A 30 minute harbour cruise aboard the MV Marana

We enjoyed the Harbour Cruise, one of the historical plays and the beneath your feet archaeology at Port Arthur as well as roaming around the grounds looking at all the historical buildings and reading all the information provided.

We would have loved to have been able to see all three of the plays. The children especially, as they very much enjoyed ‘The Shingle Strike‘ and asked to see more of the plays. With so much to see and do at Port Arthur we did not get time to do everything even though we arrived at 10.30 and and never left until well after 7pm. It is amazing, but no matter how many times we go there we are always able to find something new and interesting to see and do, just like this time when we learnt about the young convict Leonard Hand

We have promised though – to return next time DJ is staying with us, so that we can experience more of Port Arthur and what it has to offer and hopefully see some more plays, join in some more activities and also go on the Ghost Tour, which the children also asked about so so so many times, throughout the day.

Thankfully we purchased aTicket of Leave‘ so can return as many times as we like over the next 2 years without paying again!